Daily Archives: June 6, 2014

Publico review by Gonçalo Frota

Rodrigo Amado abriu a porta ao mais fascinante improvisador vivo. Uma prova de força do saxofonista português — totalmente ganha.

Rodrigo Amado precisava deste gesto de risco. Num claro movimento ascensional desde que encontrou em Miguel Mira e Gabriel Ferrandini a base para o Motion Trio, tem vindo a galgar sucessivos limites para a sua música, em parte através dos músicos convidados que tem trazido para a sua orla — Jeb Bishop no excelente Flame Alphabet, Kent Kessler e Paal Nilssen-Love na dose dupla Teatro e The Abstract Truth. Mas abrir a porta a Peter Evans era provavelmente a ambição mais desmedida que Amado podia anunciar. Evans será hoje o músico mais fascinante, imprevisível e versátil no contexto da música improvisada terráquea. E abrir-lhe a porta é convidar o génio, mas também saber que o som daquela trompete pode eclipsar todos os instrumentos ao seu redor.

Essa prova de força de Rodrigo Amado e respectivo trio é ganha em ambos os registos com Evans. Em perspectivas totalmente diferentes. No LP Live in Lisbon, registado no concerto do Teatro Maria Matos em Março de 2013, o tom é muitas vezes de perseguição, como se Peter Evans arrancasse desde logo em sprint e fosse espalhando um caos inclemente, ficando os três músicos portugueses obrigados a não o perderem de vista e a evitar os detritos que o norte-americano vai deixando pelo caminho. É um registo de tensão permanente, abrasivo, mais facilmente codificado numa linguagem de improvisação construída a partir dos alicerces (escaqueirados) do bop.

The Freedom Principle, gravado em estúdio passados dois dias, é um CD de estudo mútuo. Evans, como peça volante, deixa de chamar a si um papel de destabilização óbvia, procurando antes o espaço entre os restantes instrumentos, gerando uma dinâmica completamente nova, mais avançada e funda do que acontecera com os anteriores convidados do Motion Trio. O tema título, aliás, presta-se a uma imagem clara: Evans passa largos minutos num voo de insecto (é a isso que soa, não é metáfora rebuscada) por entre Amado, Mira e Ferrandini, como que olhando a música de cima, intervindo de uma forma cirúrgica — totalmente contrária à prodigiosa falta de subtileza que emprestara ao concerto do Maria Matos. Em ambos os casos, nestes dois discos de notável encontro, a acção de Evans não é indiferente ao Motion e vice-versa, e os arrazoados diálogos entre trompete e saxofone são, frequentemente, algo que apenas confirma Rodrigo Amado como um dos músicos mais inventivos da música improvisada mundial — deixemo-nos de escalas locais.

CF 297A prova, de resto, está bem patente em Wire Quartet — Amado, Ferrandini, Hernâni Faustino e Manuel Mota. Saxofone, bateria, contrabaixo e guitarra eléctrica, portanto. O nível não anda muito longe da parelha de discos do Motion com Evans, sobretudo quando o quarteto não cede à tentação de dinamitar a música e levanta o jogo colectivo em crescendos que não desembocam na saída fácil da chinfrineira desregrada, percebendo sempre onde está a armadilha da vulgaridade. Para esse desfecho é essencial um Manuel Mota que está longe do onanismo habitual nas incursões das guitarras nestes cenários, contribuindo para a música e não imaginando que tem por trás uma banda-papel de cenário. O vai-vém constante de Abandon yourself, o longo tema de abertura, em subidas e descidas sucessivas, junta-se às melhores coisas que Rodrigo Amado gravou até hoje. Algo que, como já se terá percebido, não é coisa pouca.
http://ipsilon.publico.pt/musica/critica.aspx?id=335386

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

CF 289Matt Bauder and Day in Pictures – Nightshades (CF 289)
Nightshades is the most accessible offering to date in Brooklyn-based tenor saxophonist Matt Bauder’s burgeoning discography. Brimming with nostalgic melodies, rich harmonies and elastic rhythms, the highly appealing session shares more than a passing resemblance to classic records issued by Blue Note in the 1960s, recalling a time when jazz still reigned as the popular music of the day.

Following in the footsteps of the group’s 2010 self-titled Clean Feed debut, Bauder’s Day in Pictures continues to explore intricate structural nuances of the post-bop continuum, hemming ever closer to conventional forms. Enjoying the support of a fairly stable lineup, Bauder is once again joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley, bassist Jason Ajemian and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, while pianist Kris Davis takes the place of Angelica Sanchez. Davis’ appearance is noteworthy; where Sanchez brought a penchant for expansive contrapuntal harmony to the group, Davis takes a more focused, linear approach, offering a profusion of melodic invention in her brisk, chromatic delivery.

Davis’ quicksilver pianism meshes well with Ajemian’s supple bass lines and Fujiwara’s spirited kit-work; their skillful interplay yields a modulating undercurrent of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic activity that inspires daring excursions from the versatile frontline. As one of the key young masters of new trumpet technique, Wooley makes a fitting foil for the leader, underscoring Bauder’s sinuous refrains with coruscating asides tempered by an increasingly sophisticated lyricism. Bauder reveals a diverse array of expressionism, whether waxing romantic on the lush ballad “Starr Wykoff,” swinging with full-throated verve through the second line-infused title track, or plying nervy multiphonics on more assertive fare like “Rule of Thirds.”

Although the material on Nightshades is stylistically similar to the quintet’s previous effort, each tune investigates slightly different territory, ranging from the slinky deconstructed bossa nova groove of “Octavia Minor” to the collective New Thing-inspired rapture of “August and Counting.” The duration of each piece hovers around the ten minute mark, allowing individual members time to extrapolate on Bauder’s melody-rich themes.

In direct contrast to some of his more experimental projects, like Memorize The Sky, the material performed by Day in Pictures highlights Bauder’s most conventionally jazz-oriented writing. The end result is a historically aware exploration of the tenuous divide between freedom and form – a bold, but beautiful album.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD47/PoD47MoreMoments2.html

Point of Departure review by Brian Morton

CF 297Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (CF 297)
Rodrigo Amado’s music is a letdown. Which is not to say that it is a disappointment. Quite the reverse. This is his most thrillingly realized and coherent recording to date. But the music’s determining trajectory is always downwards and deeper. Patterns of four, five, six descending tones in the opening sequence evoke nothing less than being slowly ratcheted down a mine-shaft, observing strata, minerals crystallizing, feeling the internal pressure build and the air thicken. When most of our laudatory paradigms for music involve elevation, ascension, transcendence, Amado takes us toward the core. Or maybe off shore, and then a deep dive. That opening piece is a veritable descent into the maelstrom. A quiet introduction on tenor and guitar (the highly impressive Manuel Mota) suggests a backstage encounter between Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall. It’s thoughtful, pleasingly discursive, but soon gives way to a fierier group attack which might unwarily be mistaken for by-the-yard Fire Music if it weren’t for the highly disciplined way Amado organizes the group round those bunched saxophone tones and terse phrasing.

Then when one is almost ready to shout despairingly with Poe’s narrator and prepare for a last plunge into the whirlpool, it pulls up quietly on damped cymbal tones (Gabriel Ferrandini) that gradually evolve a fascinating dialogue between drums and bass (Hernani Faustino). The group’s center of gravity shifts, but in such a way as to reveal its essential democracy. The set’s divided, in whatever sense it’s divided at all, into three sections – “Abandon Yourself,” “Surrender,” and “To The Music” – but the mood and concentration are sustained from first to last, and the titles merely confirm the feeling that by replugging a few expectations of what happens in improvised music, not least its repetition allergy and need to move ever on-and-up, we’re being taken further into a rich seam of exploration.

The Scottish-born poet Kenneth White (who has spent most of his working life away from Scotland) is a pioneer of what he calls geopoetics and of a hidden, transnational arc of creative activity that extends from the Nordic countries to Portugal and into North Africa and the Mediterranean, with mirrored activity on the Eastern seaboard of North Africa. He calls it “Atlantic” culture, and it’s a surprising latecomer to intellectual discourse given how powerful political Atlanticism has been in Europe since the war. Rodrigo Amado is the perfect “Atlantic” artist. His music looks West, to the great saxophone players of modern jazz, but also back to Atlantic crossers like Don Byas (who else shaped a boppish phrase like that?) and there’s even a hint of Dexter Gordon in the way Amado worries at a phrase, musing over it mid-conversation, wondering if he’s saying the right thing, offering an alternative.

It’s a most surprising record, this. Its antecedents – its genre, almost – seem familiar to the point of predictability, and yet nothing about it conforms easily to what we know and expect about such groups. The guitar and bass playing are revelatory. Mota plays in a no-style that seems to bundle up Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock and Arto Lindsay in a single phrase. Faustino should be renamed “the Lisbon earthquake,” if he isn’t already, and Ferrandini is one of the most musical drummers I’ve heard in years. Amado himself is a proven quantity, an artist of real and still growing stature. He’s been away on his own European Echoes imprint for a while. This feels like a kind of homecoming.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD47/PoD47MoreMoments2.html

All About Jazz review by John Sharpe

CF 294Eric Revis: Eric Revis: In Memory Of Things Yet Seen (CF 294)
Although the title to bassist Eric Revis’ quartet offering appears to pay homage to some of the early AACM documents (think pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ unaccompanied manifesto Things To Come From Those Now Gone (Delmark, 1975)), the actuality is a different animal entirely. Having rung the changes since the acclaimed City of Asylum, Revis’ outfit acts primarily as a vehicle for exploring imaginative charts drawn from across the band, along with two free jazz classics and two group inventions, this time without a piano in sight. And with a resume extended from a longtime home base with Branford Marsalis to include dates with reedmen Peter Brotzmann and Ken Vandermark, Revis defies easy categorization.

That ethos persists when considering the baker’s dozen of cuts on this studio session, as the ensemble encompasses a wide range of terrain. With this end in mind Revis has assembled a versatile top notch cast. Alto saxophonist Darius Jones plies his customary blend of sweet sour tunefulness and atonal skronk, contrasting with the more muscular motif-driven legato of tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry. Drummer Chad Taylor handles whatever’s asked of him with graceful assurance, from rhythms either funky or intricate to balls to the wall pulsation.

In spite of the talent on hand, the fare remains less about solos which tend to be concise, and more about group interplay and mood. Nowhere is breadth of intent better illustrated than in the opening two tracks, where Taylor’s vibes infuse the wistful Satiesque “The Tulpa Chronicles I” framing the leader’s spare melodic variations, while the structured improv “Hits” commences with a clarion burst alternated with short explosive vignettes from each member before a final unruly collective. Revis revels in darting lines, hocketed themes (whereby a tune is shared between two or more instruments), and multiple layers of action, evidenced by the joyously awry “The Tulpa Chronicles II” and the vibrant “The Tulpa Chronicles III” which features an energetic arco workout by the bassist.

Of the two covers, Sun Ra’s “Shadow World” hews close to the version on Magic City (Saturn, 1966), featuring suitably extraplanetary shrieks by the two horns, as Taylor pummels to a frenetic crescendo, while Sunny Murray’s “Somethin’s Cookin'” juxtaposes slowly percolating saxophones against busy bass and drums. Revis’ erstwhile employer guests on the boppish “Unknown” inserting a knotty tenor outpouring into the buoyant limber swing, and again on the improvised “FreeB” joining a melee of bickering reeds crashing like waves on the shore. Overall there is almost too much to savor. Five numbers clock in at less than three minutes and even the longest is just over seven, so it would be great to hear them stretch out on all of this material in a concert setting.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/eric-revis-in-memory-of-things-yet-seen-eric-revis-clean-feed-records-review-by-john-sharpe.php#.U5GK33KwL-s