The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

CF 275Lama + Chris Speed – Lamaçal (CF 275)
Lama (the word means “mud” in Portuguese) began in Rotterdam as a trio of Portuguese trumpeter Susana Santos Silva and bassist Gonçalo Almeida with Canadian drummer Greg Smith, the latter two adding electronic elements. They released their debut CD Oneiros in 2011, memorable (in contradiction to the band’s name) for a developed use of space, form and distinctive sounds and textures, whether in Almeida’s compositions or their improvisations. On Lamaçal (the irony continues with a title meaning mud puddle), the group is joined by New York tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Chris Speed, now a regular guest, in a live set at the 2012 Portalegre Jazz Festival. The music here is almost always lyrical, though moods and textures will change, with the band unusually comfortable at slow tempos that support their sonic emphasis. It’s apparent from the beginning of the set with Santos Silva’s “Overture for a Wandering Fish”, a near-dirge that emphasizes a ragged brassy edge to her trumpet that she presses from village band to multiphonics in consort with Speed. Her expressive power takes a different but equally vocalic turn with the muffled half-valves of the concluding “Manta”. Almeida contributed four of the compositions here and his ear for the unexpected makes effective use ofSpeed’s clarinet on the title track, a piece oddly suggestive of both Boulez and traditional jazz, and the middle-East themed “Anémona”. Almeida’s melodic bass playing and subtle electronics stand out on the whale invocations of his “Moby Dick”. There are plenty of strong individual efforts here, but it’s camaraderie and shared invention that ultimately animate the music, from the vitality that the horns bring to the themes to the subtle dialogues that link all the members of the group. The improvised duet between Smith and Speed that opens the former’s slightly boppish “Cachalote” stands out, as do the fleet and edgy contributions of Santos Silva and Almeida to Speed’s Ornette-reminiscent “Pair of Dice”. Rather than sounding like a trio with a guest, Lama + Chris Speed already sounds like a band.

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