Tag Archives: Joao Paulo

Improjazz review by Luc Bouquet



The New York City Jazz Record review by Fred Bouchard

Palle Mikkelborg/Thomas Clausen – Even Closer (Arts Music)
Dennis González/João Paulo – So Soft Yet (CF 243)
Giovanni Falzone/Bruno Angelini – If Duo – Songs (Abeat)
Three duos between veteran trumpeters and pianists come in from Denmark, Portugal and Italy. Veterans of cold wars and glacial ice-bound ECM silences, pianist Thomas Clausen and trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg weave ice-fogged, watercolors of shining aqueous hues and drifting interplay on Even Closer. Their melodic offerings, distilled into eerie exhalations and carved in icy sculpture, are straight forwardly crystalline. Glinting, spooky muted Miles Davis (cryo preserved from 1957) looms gently over the minimalist “When Lights Are Low” and “My Funny Valentine”. Anything but fragmented, these miniatures evoke Arctic winters: the cryptic “Do Not Speak” fades with unearthly whale whimpers, the flamenco-tinged “To Read Is To Dream” blurs on a shimmery horizon and the outer-spacey title track echoes Gershwin’s strawberries, freeze-dried on a glinting floe.

So Soft Yet is cantabile poems in a classic Euro-folkstyle. Texas trumpeter Dennis González plays four-square with little vibrato and affectation; Lisbon pianist João Paulo sounds classically schooled with a down-home bent. They weave in special effects from track to track, fueled by motoric rhythm loops. González pre-programs thirds on “Broken Harp” and the spooky closer “Augúrio”. Paulo strokes electric plunking basslines on “El Destierro”, folksy accordion stutters on “Deathless” and “Taking Root”, electric loops on “Broken Harp”. A couple of tracks recall the Enrico Rava/Paolo Fresu Italianate school, with blue fado wisps; one is reminiscent of Jill McManus’ Hopi melodies played sotto voce by Tom Harrell. Yet the duo’s sliding from one easy vamp to the next, rather than building their case with strong melodies, results in a date of pleasant if aimless noodling.

Following the Danes’ chill intensity and the Transatlantic duo’s breezy atmospherics, the team of Sicilian trumpeter Giovanni Falzone and Marseilles-born pianist Bruno Angelini convey nine edgy pieces, credited to Falzone, in a mutually sparking, downright theatrical atmosphere. By dint of varying tempos, timbres and moods, this highly accomplished pair succeed in putting across a vividly dramatic, witty, consistently engaging set. “Marì” leads with splashes of edgy avant guardia, as chance-taking improvisations whirl and fragment. Falzone shows splendid tone and superior melodicism while Angelini dazzles with double-time runs and darting notions that push on into “Salto nel Vuoto” as Falzone opens up handsome flutter-tongue figures. They shuffle “Maschere”(stately) and “Terra” (legato arpeggios) with comically grumbling quasi-scat (“Pineyurinoli”) and a manic off-Broadway two-beat rag (“Wizard”). Other poignant effects are Falzone’s diminutive wah-wah mute expanding to a sweeping legato on “Guardando illago” with Angelini’s comically chirrupy piano, a fast bluesy ostinato named after “Jean Cocteau” and a closing ballad that might complement a genially offhand Charlie Chaplin vignette.

Musica Jazz review by Farnè

In questo cd insolito e raccoman-dabile assistiamo all’incontro fra il pianista portoghese, dalla pronuncia delicatamente narrativa, e il trombettista texano, di sette anni più vecchio, dalla personale pronuncia e sempre rigoroso nella dimensione misticheggiante delle sue collaborazioni. Nell’ottobre 2010 questo duo tenne un concerto a Nova Gorica, all’interno del festi-val Jazz & Wine of Peace, destando interesse tra gli addetti ai lavori per la vena meditativa, imprevedi-bile, divagante della sua musica di difficile catalogazione. Le improvvisazioni di «So Soft Yet», registrato in studio mesi prima, confermano quell’impressione, configurando un’evoluzione natura-le e distesa del dialogo melodico-ritmico, senza enfasi e impennate scabrose. La conduzione dinamica può risultare prudente e un po’ statica, l’approccio emotivo distac-cato, di pensosa austerità, ma la motivazione che guida l’incontro, profonda ed estremamente onesta, porta a momenti di sincera poesia.

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

It’s not merely a matter of expertise. When artistic entities such as Dennis González and João Paulo meet, there’s a third factor in the equation, specifically an instinctive capacity of establishing with deadly accuracy how many pitches should get played, and how long or short they should be. Not to mention how certain silences weigh amidst these muted conversations. So Soft Yet, which follows Scapegrace (same label) is a 59-minute collection of dejected moods, evocative pastels and calm experimentations depicted by trumpet, cornet, acoustic and electric piano. It’s a fine testimonial – better than the previous one, if you ask me – of two musicians attempting to shine by evoking the ghost of an understated beauty instead of hiding behind technical brilliance (an element that, in case of doubt, lies at the basis of both beings). In pieces such as “El Destierro” a clairvoyance of sorts permits a reciprocal anticipation of the respective moves, the resulting music appearing superbly designed in its gradual development. The soulful sedimentation generated by these fragments of higher sceneries is something that a reviewer can’t stuff into a pot: just let the notes flow, realizing that implications are everywhere. Unspoken or less.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

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!

Le Son du Grisli review by Pierre Lemarchand

Dennis Gonzalez / João Paulo – So Soft Yet (CF 243)
Scape / Grace était un disque d’été, dont la musique ondulait au rythme du linge séché par le vent et se gorgeait du soleil qui caresse les collines surplombant Lisbonne. So Soft Yet témoigne des retrouvailles du pianiste portugais João Paulo et du trompettiste et cornettiste américain Dennis González deux ans et demi après l’enregistrement de Scape / Grace. Au cœur de l’hiver lisbonnais, lors du mois de janvier 2010, Dennis González et João Paulo se retrouvèrent donc pour offrir une suite à leur premier disque, gravée elle aussi sur le label Clean Feed records.

Au seul piano joué sur le précédent disque, Paulo lui adjoint ici l’accordéon (sur deux titres) et le piano électrique (sur cinq). La sonorité rêveuse du premier imprime à la musique une certaine nostalgie, tandis que le second crée un climat de ciel obscurci et un paysage de reliefs tranchants. Mais on n’aime jamais autant la musique de ces deux-là que quand elle revient à ses fondamentaux, quand elle réitère le miracle de la première rencontre musicale : piano et trompette, en de longs entremêlements monochromes comme en de plus précipités dialogues irisés.

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

Dennis Gonzalez & Joao Paulo – So Soft Yet (CF 243)
So Soft Yet (Clean Feed) is an album of beauty and depth. For me this latest collaboration between Gonzalez and Da Silva has even more resonance than their first stellar partnership on 2009’s Scrape Grace (Clean Feed). This might be due to the longer relationship together and the new material that feels both more unified and diverse.

“Como a Noite” opens the session in a delightful and romantic fashion. Filling the void with lush poetic tones both musicians are taking you on journey that will include some extraordinary exaltation as well as moments of deep reflection. “Broken Harp” has the feeling of Chick Corea and Miles Davis playing solo. Da Silva switches to electric piano and deploys some terrific and spellbinding notes. It has deep psychedelic grooves with some nice improvising from both men. Gonzalez travels up and down with a crisp and reverberating tone that along with Da Silva becomes hypnotic towards the closing passages.

So Soft Yet is deeply rooted in a more interpersonal manner that allows the listener to sink deeper and deeper into music. “Thirst” sees Da Silva on accordion and the conversation the two musicians have is playful and jubilant. The Portuguese elements are well present on this piece as it feels like you’re traveling blindfolded down the town street just listening to all the sounds and creating your journey. Lovely stuff.

“Sobre Mi Mi Koracon Doloryozo” is my personal favourite. It’s a celebratory piece that is both buoyant and joyous. Gonzalez and Da Silva have a unison that feels like two classical musicians who have performed together for decades. “Augurio” closes the session with dark parameters intertwined past fusion eras with modern eclecticism with beautiful harmonies.

A partnership that started essentially out of nowhere, these two renowned and revered musicians have made two astounding records in just under three years. So Soft Yet is a cool document that expands the floats with high spiritual moments that spread delicately across space and time. Emotional material and highly recommended listening.

San Diego Reader’s Best of 2011 list by Robert Bush

The International Top Ten Jazz Releases 2011
These are the ten best CDs to cross my path in 2011, regardless of geography. Some of them were recorded in New York, LA, and Portugal. Even still, the San Diego connection remains strong. Bert Turetzky, Mark Dresser, Peter Sprague and Geoffrey Keezer all released discs of global importance. Additionally, two musicians on this top-ten list spent years in San Diego: trombonists George Lewis and Michael Dessen. The final SD connection belongs to Jeff Kaiser, whose record label pfMENTUM is also represented.

1. Vinny Golia Octet Music For Baritone Saxophone ( NineWinds) Woodwind virtuoso Golia put together an adventurous and accessible recording with his stellar octet. Terrific arrangements and compositions and excellent solos from everyone, especially Golia’s monstrous “Tubax,” a refinement of the contrabass saxophone.
2. Bert Turetzky, George Lewis, Vinny Golia Triangulation II (Kadima Collective) No charts, no tunes, no discussions, just three of the world’s heaviest players improvising in the moment. Free jazz at its finest.
3. Michael Dessen Trio Forget The Pixel (Clean Feed)
Trombone / electronics master Dessen forges 21st century jazz with very few precedents. NYC compatriots Christopher Tordini’s bass and the multidirectional drums of Dan Weiss nail the constantly shifting metric landscapes of Dessen’s formidable compositions.
4. Bobby Bradford, Mark Dresser, Glenn Ferris Live In LA (Clean Feed)
Bradford has been a beacon for the free-improvising community in LA since the 1960s. This free-bop date sizzles from start to finish with elliptical, swinging solos and rock solid rhythms.

5. Dennis Gonzalez / Joao Paulo So Soft Yet (Clean Feed)
Dallas, Texas based trumpeter Gonzalez turns in an exquisite duet with pianist / accordion player Paulo. Extremely lyrical, the two men communicate on a deep level. Some of the pieces with electric piano hearken back to Miles Davis’ groundbreaking 1970s work. Sublime and surprising. Portuguese label Clean Feed is on this list multiple times for good reason.
6. Dick Wood Not Far From Here (pfMENTUM)
Another excellent example of where jazz might be heading in the 21st century, Woods combines Mark Trayle’s live electronics seamlessly into his core group of Hal Onserud on bass, Marty Mansour on percussion and Dan Clucas on trumpet. Wood takes elements of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn into his writing and improvising, and kicks ass throughout.
7. Trio M The Guest House (Enja)
Bay Area pianist Myra Melford, NYC drummer Matt Wilson and San Diego bassist Mark Dresser explore multiple improvising scenarios with compositions from each member. This collection ranges from the pensive to the furious.
8. Geoffrey Keezer / Peter Sprague Band Mill Creek Road (SBE Records) This disc represents yet another idea of where jazz music might be leaning in the future. Synthesizing elements from the bebop, world-music and free aesthetics, the influences of Chick Corea and Pat Metheny shine through in this album of wide variation and virtuosic execution.
9. Daniel Rosenboom Septet Fallen Angeles (Nine Winds)
Rosenboom’s tart, precise, clarion-call trumpet is joyously combined with the astringent alto saxophone of Gavin Templeton and the startling bass clarinet maneuvers of Brian Walsh in a frontline ably supported by David Rosenboom’s piano, Sam Minaie’s bass and Caleb Dolister’s drumming.
10. Vinny Golia Quartet Take Your Time (Relative Pitch)
Golia’s quartet combines long-time associates Bobby Bradford’s trumpet, Alex Cline’s drums and Ken Filiano’s bass in an ecstatic program of compositions that reference the work of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. Every solo tells a story in this wildly swinging collection.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

Dennis Gonzalez / Joao Paulo – So Soft Yet (CF 243)
Recorded in Portugal, Texas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and Portuguese keyboardist Joao Paulo offer a temperate pastoral setting, grounded on the duo’s intake of regional sensibilities, ethnocentricities and emotive responses to cultural and spiritual components. With the effective use of space acting as a third instrument, the duo strikes an ethereal balance, spanning open-air panoramas, lush phrasings and resonating micro-themes via a largely unhurried gait.

The musicians infuse variable moods amid Paulo’s edgy and darkly woven electric keys to counter the resonating exchanges and peppery upsurges in pitch. Paulo also performs on acoustic piano, and uses the accordion to shade the proceedings with a mild sense of Spanish bravado. The artists sublimely present a study in contrasts, with contrapuntal maneuvers and orbital choruses in concert with an aggregation of softly stated peaks and valleys.

Gonzalez’s concise expressionism on cornet features a myriad of gradually ascending choruses, subtle trills and gently grooving statements. These factors are driven home on “Taking Root,” where Paulo’s pumping accordion lines perpetuate a sequence of drifting melodies and stately inferences. However, the musicians firmly implant the jazz improvisation component into the big picture.

The duo’s deterministic approach and irrefutable synergy provide a baseline for this endearing effort. It’s a change of pace from the respective artists discographies, often centered on avant, semi-free or power-packed structural underpinnings. It’s a symmetrical presentation that casts shadowy environs to complement many luminescent passages and keenly executed improvisational etudes along with dips, spikes and soul-stirring enactments.

Stash Dauber reviews

Some good jazz records, mostly on Clean Feed
I said I wasn’t going to write a lot this month, but then in the middle of a John Fahey binge (Georgia Stomps, Atlanta Struts and Other Contemporary Dance Favorites and Womblife), an envelope arrived from Lisbon bearing the latest from Clean Feed, the Portuguese label that’s established itself as the Blue Note of the ‘teens, including a couple that I just had to hear right away.

Live in L.A. (CF 241) documents a performance from a trio consisting of trumpeter Bobby Bradford, bassist Mark Dresser, and trombonist Glenn Ferris. Bradford’s a Mississippi-born, Texas-bred Californian and familiar of Fort Worth eminences Ornette Coleman (he’s all over Science Fiction) and John Carter who’s led his own Mo’tet since the early ’90s. Dresser’s worked with Anthony Braxton, among others, while Ferris is an Angeleno who’s lived and taught in France since the ’80s. Together they play a cerebral brand of chamber jazz, with Bradford — heard here on cornet — and Ferris intertwining contrapuntal lines and Dresser moving seamlessly between arco and pizzicato attacks. On “Bamboo Shoots,” all three instruments play vocally-inflected lines, to which one of the musicians adds a sung response. An intimately alive and organic set.

So Soft Yet (CF 243) is the latest encounter between redoubtable Dallas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and Portuguese pianist Joao Paulo Esteves da Silva, with whom he shared a previous Clean Feed release, 2009’s Scapegrace. On this 2010 reunion, Gonzalez employs the electronics (mainly an octave splitter) that he eschewed on their first meeting, and Joao Paulo divides his time between acoustic and electric pianos and accordion. On the electric instrument, he sometimes plays percussive and modal figures that give the music the feel of a two-man Bitches Brew. His accordion gives the sound a lyrical lilt. On “El Destierro,” both men play unusually sparsely, using silence and space to heighten the impact of the notes that are played. Impressive artistry, beautifully registered.

Frog Leg Logic (CF 242) is the latest outing from reedman Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet. The ebullient title track explodes out of the gate, showcasing the group’s orchestral heft — impressive for such a small unit — and improvisational aplomb. Cellist Hank Roberts can function as a timekeeper or a third melodic voice, as needed. “Ballade” is a lovely lament that breaks down into a blues following the initial thematic statement. Trumpeter James Zollar plays a solo that shifts seamlessly between muted growls and post-bop angularity. When the theme returns in a wash of lyrical beauty, it gives the track a nicely complete feel. “You Can Beat the Slanted Cards” features a seductively circuitous melody, with nicely spare trap-kicking from drummer Michael Sarin. Ehrlich’s an ace improviser on alto, soprano, and flute, but his true strength is as a composer and bandleader.

In that regard, he’s a direct descendent of his mentor, Fort Worth native Julius Hemphill, who made his initial impact in St. Louis in the early ’70s before heading to New York to found and lead the World Saxophone Quartet, as well as his own sextet and big band. Hemphill’s masterwork, Dogon A.D. — which he originally self-released in 1972 and Arista Freedom subsequently reissued in 1977 — made its first appearance on CD this year via International Phonograph, Inc., in a beautifully-packaged edition (heavy cardboard gatefold sleeve) that includes all four tracks from the original session (“The Hard Blues” wouldn’t fit on the original LP and so had to wait for 1975’s Coon Bid’ness to see the light of day). There are many elements and aspects of Dogon A.D. — the complex themes, Abdul Wadud’s cello, drummer Philip Wilson’s minimalist backbeat — that are echoed on Frog Leg Logic, but that’s no slight to Ehrlich. The Hemphill album’s influence on the last 30 years of creative jazz has been as inescapable as, say, Out To Lunch’s, making its reappearance the most welcome jazz reissue of 2011.