Lama – Oneiros (CF 240)
Susana Santos Silva has teamed up with fellow Portuguese bassist, Goncalo Almeida and Canadian drummer Greg Smith for Lama. This trio has seemingly conjured up one of the most superb debuts, Oneiros, in the last few months. Silva shows really diversity during this session which is more experimental and ethereal in parts.
“Alguidar” opens with a rousing Latin march beat from Smith which moves quickly into some breathy atmospheric work from Silva before the trio settle into calm melody which later sees some exchanges between Almeida and Silva. The piece then settles gently with crackles, pops and jagged notes into its conclusion.
“Overture for Penguins” starts off like something off an early Chris & Cosey album moving through a number of changes and tempos. All this while each musician demonstrates a rich and highly versatile sense of improvisation. Almeida delivers a lovely solo shortly before the end that is soft yet penetrating.
The melodic and touching qualities of Silva’s playing and the calm pacing present by Almeida create an uplifting atmosphere around “Melodia Minuscula” that is refreshing as it is enveloping. There are moments where you could mistake this trio for John Zorn’s Masada. The well crafted “The Chimpanzee Who Told” has an fast reverberating Eastern quality to that feels likes a bridge between the musical aesthetics. The piece builds quickly and then plummets into a kind of joyous romp that allows Greg Smith to have a great solo opportunity flying the group outward.
“Tarantino” is the most daring piece on Oneiros. Filled with electronics and muted effects its a great display of the diversity of this trio. Silva’s trumpet is high in the mix giving a sense of rising climax to the conclusion of really wonderful journey. More seated in the drone sounds of indie rock than experimental jazz but highly effective indeed.
I’ve had Oneiros on sort of a revolving spin in my CD player for the last month. This combined with Santos Silva’s debut has been a fantastic revelation for me. Both dense, diverse and exploring the unexpected. Oneiros is filled with ideas that will want you having Lama record together again and again on a regular basis. Let’s hope so. I plead them. Highly Recommended!
Dennis Gonzalez, Joao Paulo – So Soft Yet (CF 243)
Dennis Gonzalez over the years has shown himself not just as a creative and masterful trumpet player and important bandleader. He also composes some excellent music and, equally importantly, he plays and conceives most everything with a sort of thoughtful compositional deliberation. I’ve never heard a release of his that didn’t have its own reason for existence, a clear “thing” happening, a kind of focus.
With keyboardist Joao Paulo he has an ideal duo partner. Joao too has a deliberation in his spontaneity, a structural thinking inherent in his note and timbre choices.
So when they got together for a second volume of duets (see the July 6, 2009 article for a review of the first) these factors were again decisive in the resulting music, So Soft Yet (Clean Feed 243).
Joao Paulo gets a sound on the electric piano, plays a folk-free sort of accordion and uses the full scope of the conventional piano strings–plucked and sounded, dampened, regular key articulation, etc., to set the mood of each number. Of course it is also WHAT he plays that sets up the duet interaction. Simple pulsed riffs, freely unfolding tonal-centered flourishes, gospel-like rollers, lyrical balladic freedom, atmospheric ambiance, almost koto-like figures, rapid repeating and varying riffs that expand into free tonal interplay…I could go on.
And Dennis responds with a series of marvelous improvisations on C trumpet and Bb cornet, limber and eloquent, spontaneous and structured.
It’s another enormously engaging series of duets that are as pleasing to hear as they must have been a pleasure to play. Hear this one!
Bobby Bradford, Mark Dresser, Glenn Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
What are the chances that Bobby Bradford would be prominently featured on two disks in a row on this blog? It would be slim only because of the luck of the draw. Nevertheless it is happening today.
And so we have a trio of Mr. Bradford (on cornet) plus bassist Mark Dresser and trombonist Glenn Ferris, Live in LA (Clean Feed 241). There are trios with this instrumentation that seem wholly self-sufficient; others you ask yourself “where’s the drummer?” Live in LA almost seems like the latter. The periodicity of much of the music (in a post-early-Ornette groove) seems to need the equivalent of an Eddie Blackwell back there polyrhythmically pushing it. But no. If that were the case Mark Dresser’s fine bass playing and the liberties he takes might have been lost or hindered a bit. So the trio format allows Dresser to be a more fully front-lined member of the trio. And so it is.
That’s the point of this one, I think. It’s three important improvisers playing out of some head compositions, or improvising from the get-go, expanding their solo work and getting into two- and three-way collective improvisations too. It’s good to hear Glenn Ferris again, onetime youthful star of Don Ellis’s big band and an important member of Billy Cobham’s Crosswinds ensemble. Perhaps his playing is a little less brash today, a little more mature, but no less striking. Mark Dresser is filled with good ideas throughout, as you would expect. And Bobby Bradford sounds terrific, as only he can in the way he does.
By the way, the “live” in the title refers to the immediacy of the music, not to the audience, which is actually not there in any audible sense. It was recorded at Bruce Fowler’s house. The sound is quite decent.
So in the end this is a fine outing for all three, individually and collectively. Do not hesitate.