Tag Archives: Luis Lopes

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

Luis Lopes – Lisbon Berlin Trio (CF 234)
Lisbon Berlin Trio starts with the scratching and scraping of picks across the coils of round wound electric guitar strings. Percussion rattles below and a bowed bass fills the space in between. The muted soundscape grows and soon the guitar is lashing out with distorted chord tones and a disjointed rock-ish melody. By the end of the tune, the song is far from where it began. While it seems like the ten minute long ‘Hang Out With’ covers a lot of ground, other vibes permeat this album as well.

The probing bass on song ‘Mutant Free 1’ invites Lopes to play flowing and rhythmically punchy lines. The percussion adds pulse to the mounting tension, ultimately breaking down into free sputters, scratches and plucks. Most likely entirely improvised, each song is listenable and interesting, featuring thoughtful and controlled playing, but also the willingness to let go and let the moment take the songs where wherever they will go. ‘Song for M’ is a good example of group restraint, whereas ‘Mutant Free 2′ builds to a climax with the guitar shooting syncopated blasts of energy from his fretboard. On guitar is Luis Lopes from Portugal, and on bass and drums, are Robert Landfermann and Christian Lillinger, both from Germany. This collection strikes me as being different than some of Lopes’ other efforts I am aware of, like Humanization 4-tet and Afterfall. The playing here feels more raw and immediate, with a stronger rock elements throughout. The Clean Feed web sites describes the music as the results of musicians who “don’t specially care to give a 21st century content to the jazz format; it just happens they enjoy, and play, different kinds of music, and usually do it crossing boundaries and mixing vocabularies.”

So, perhaps The Lisbon Berlin Trio is and is not a guitar trio. It almost doesn’t matter that Lopes is playing guitar, it really is a whole new instrument in his hands, one that is approached in clusters, shapes and abstract extrusions rather than more familiar “guitaristic” sounds and shapes. Overall, a very nice album in which all the songs belie a telepathy between the musicians. It is a trio that I hope to hear more from in the future.

skug // Magazin – skug – Journalfür Musik review by Noël Akchoté

Luis Lopes Humanization Quartet (CF 105)
Luis Lopes, Adam Lane, Igal Foni – What is When (CF 146)
Afterfall – Afterfall (CF 208)
Luis Lopes – Lisbon Berlin Trio (CF 234)
The week before, or so, I just had seen passing a link to Luis Lopes’s new release and artist pages. I rarely visit such pages, I must admit, but this time I can’t tell why, I felt I really should. So I did. I only had heard about and seen his name before, but never actually remember listening to him more. Luis Lopes is a guitarist from Portugal, living in Lisbon, playing in his own idiom, with his own technique, approach, all in once. As much a guitarist than a composer to my eyes, someone that looks further inside the music, beyond the note, but with it as a departure point. You may remind a certain post free jazz school while listening to him, but he won’t let you there alone, not standing, not “in the tradition”. For me his music rings many more underneath and deep inside, in the core. In fact his way to play and organize his bands, his frames, his landscapes seems much more like someone opening up a new one and bringing all his memories, desires, pictures and momentums inside. Someone looking to dialogue with the elements, with others too. His guitar playing is very subtile, ranging on a large scale of dynamics, some upfront playing, some side ways, sometime bellow and the next moment on top. His bands (each album a different project here), also refletcs this very sharply and smartly. Colorsand People, individuals and orchestral ranges, each a strong role in the same room, altogether. Then we played duet with Manuel Mota in Lisbon, and there he was outside after the show, Luis Lopes, and he gave me those four beautiful albums, and i wanted to tell you about. So I did.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Luis Lopes – Lisbon Berlin Trio (CF 234)
Luis Lopes has been making a name for himself in Portugal and the world at large with some premier avant electric guitar for the Humanization 4tet and other luminaries. His latest album Lisbon Berlin Trio (Clean Feed 234) shows him pulling every musical rabbit out of his considerable hat. It’s Lopes with Robert Landfermann, contrabass, and Christian Lillinger on drums, a very game combination that gives Luis plenty of torque whether it’s for free-falling cosmic onslaughts or pulse-implied torrid burning.

Luis sounds especially inspired for this one–very electric and avant, in his own way a smartly conceived synthesis of Sharrock’s electric barrage with a McLaughlin line scorch and the guitar-color sensitivity of Derek Bailey.

It has moments of relative calm and room for some very interesting bass and rhythm section presence.

He is from the evidence here rapidly becoming a key stylistic presence in the avant-free guitar world. Miss this one and you will miss something that may cause you remiss. All plectrists and friends of stringers, take note!

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

Afterfall – Afterfall (CF 208 )
Afterfall is an international quintet consisting of Portuguese (guitarist Luis Lopes and trumpeter Sei Miguel), American (tenor and soprano saxophonist Joe Giardullo and drummer Harvey Sorgen) and French (bassist Benjamin Duboc) musicians. Their first meeting in a Lisbon studio is documented here. The methodology is free improvisation, but as the instrumentation suggests, there are strong free jazz elements at work here in both the roles and the textures the band favors, from the Cool-era sound of Miguel’s pocket trumpet – always muted and played in the middle-register – to the vocalic wails of Giardullo’s saxophones. The band is both genuinely collective and spacious, with a shared willingness to let ideas develop in their own time. There’s a certain transparency in the band’s music, with one musician’s voice passing through another’s. Most interesting are microscopic, granular bits of sound that abound here, sometimes ultimately traceable to Sorgen’s subtle cymbal and snare work, but more often to Lopes’ thoroughly electronic conception of the guitar. His gritty waves of barely audible sound contribute much to shape the textures prevalent here and when he takes the lead he has a sense of sonic play that extends from the glassy quarter-tones of the opening “Shut Up Goddess” to the sustained feedback on “Return of the Shut Up Goddess”, his guitar almost shakuhachi-like. While Sorgen and Duboc can provide fields of scintillating detail, they’re also capable of tremendous drive, most notably in the powerful backing they provide Giardullo for his intense tenor exhortation on“American Open Road with a Frog”, a whimsical title likely inspired by the soulful multiphonic roar that the saxophonist develops. The extended “Triptych” is notable for the collective composition of which the group is capable, Duboc (a brilliant arco player) and Lopes developing spontaneous figures that become both insistent support and provocation to the horns. There are musical relationships developing here that bode well for the future.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Afterfall – Afterfall (CF 208 )
We recently encountered guitarist Luis Lopes as part of the Humanization 4tet (see January 13th posting). He returns today as a member of the equally adventurous Afterfall (Clean Feed 208). It’s a free-avant encounter with a quintet that includes Lopes, Joe Giardullo on soprano and tenor, Sei Miguel on pocket trumpet, and a rhythm section of Benjamin Duboc on upright bass and Harvey Sorgen on the drums.

This is five-way interaction, a cooperative date all the way, with all five members sharing the composing credits. What that translates into for the listener is seven musical vignettes, each somewhat different in mood. The freetime feel is pretty constant, with time sometimes more overtly implied and sometimes in a free falling zone. Some numbers are sparser and more reflective, some more extroverted and energetic. Sei Miguel’s always muted pocket trumpet forms a good contrast with Giardullo’s shining soprano or gruff tenor and Lopes’ sound-color oriented guitar.

A high point is Giardullo’s tenor work in “American Open Road with a Frog,” where he is is rippingly muscular over churning drums and bass. “American Tryptich” finds some room for Lopes’ spicy, floating chord voicings and chopping staccato-line crafting, some after-Miles-and-Cherry tartly stating-the-fact trumpet inventions and grainy bowed bass. “Return of the Shut Up Goddess” brings a storm of bowing thunder and weighted brushwork underpinning more Miguel muted eloquence and then vibrato-laced sustained guitar lines of a rough beauty. There are plenty of such moments, each one with a slightly different mix of musical voices, shades and degrees of emphasis.

This is a sleeper. It is so subtle in many ways one has to listen a number of times before the logic of the improvisational language truly speaks to you. But I found that it did after a time. And what it said was most definitely worth hearing.

All About Jazz – Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

Afterfall – Afterfall (CF 208 )
Valutazione: 3.5 stelle
Afterfall è un incontro casuale di musicisti provenienti da diverse parti del mondo e da altrettanto diverse esperienze e percorsi artistici. Quell’incontro casuale dell’estate 2008 – un paio di concerti in Portogallo – diventa il prologo ad una conoscenza più approfondita e l’omonimo Afterfall è l’apprezzabile risultato.
Ensemble democratico, apparentemente senza leader – in effetti dietro le quinte sembra operare la longa manus del chitarrista portoghese Luis Lopes, se non altro per aver voluto fortemente una testimonianza discografica di questo incontro – Afterfall sfugge a qualsiasi tipo di categorizzazione.

E’ vero che l’aspetto improvvisativo, il dedicarsi completamente alla composizione istantanea sono le coordinate entro le quali si muovono i cinque musicisti ma è altrettanto vero che una serie di contaminazioni stilistiche e di genere in aggiunta alle continue trovate dei protagonisti rendono il tutto piacevolmente sfuggente.

L’inizio sembra nascere dal nulla, qualche crepitio elettrico, qualche percussione di pelli, le corde del basso accarezzato dall’archetto, le vibrazione di un ancia che scuotono l’aria, una piccola tromba con sordina alla ricerca del filo perduto. E’ un navigare a vista senza una meta, un fiutare l’aria per cogliere suggerimenti ed alimentare l’ispirazione.

Poi – piano piano – qualcosa si evolve, le diverse traiettorie sembrano trovare una via comune, anche se l’atmosfera rimane spesso rarefatta, a volte oscura, a tratti ermetica. Ma vi è una forza interiore che scardina le resistenze dell’ascoltatore rendendolo partecipe di un rituale che si conclude come era iniziato: impalpabile e affascinante.

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

Afterfall (CF 208)
By We are waking up slowly, somewhere unexpected. Small sounds are creeping into our consciousness, clicks, moans — slightly spooky — suggesting a less than desirable near future. We begin to focus and clicks become tones, sounds begin to connect, we realize that we are being spoken to, but in a strange dialect. Soon we realize that this language, that while somewhat familiar, is actually comprised of those clicks and sudden accents — a wail or moan is not unintended. It’s all a part of the drama unfolding around us. The pacing quickens and the harmonies thicken.

Afterfall is an international collaboration on Clean Feed records with Luís Lopes on electric guitar, Sei Miguel on pocket trumpet, Joe Giardullo on soprano and tenor saxophones, Benjamin Duboc on double bass and Harvey Sorgen on drums. Lopes, from Portugal, is the group leader, but you may not know it, as he takes a back seat to his other Portuguese, American and French colleagues. In fact, it’s Giardullo whose voice seems to be most prominent.

At first, there is a feeling restraint, like the musicians have colluded in not revealing exactly what they mean. However, things begin to loosen up slowly towards the middle of the album. ‘Cancoa Branco’ builds slowly over eight and a half minutes and only in the last minute of the tune does Lopes’ distorted guitar rise out of the mix along with Giardullo’s sax. But then the communication barrier has been broken open and the music pours forth on ‘American Open Road with a Frog.’ Then it starts making sense, this album is a suite, each piece building up into longer sonic segments and becoming increasingly melodic. Giardullo takes a full throttled free blowing solo, finally saying everything that was being held back for so long. ‘Open Road’ has broken free and how good it feels — it’s almost swinging!

The last two songs find us retreating back into a murkier atmosphere. ‘Triptych’ begins with upright bass bowing a dark chord and plucking choice notes white Lopes’ guitar sprinkles tiny melodies atop. It laboriously builds, adding trumpet, then percussion and finally sax, leading to a fierce collective improv. The last tune, ‘Return of the Shut Up Goddess’ brings us full circle (the first tune is called ‘The Shut Up Goddess’), with small snippets of melody and scratching rhythms. However, this time we are fully awake and ready.

This arching song cycle is illuminating. Lopes’ use of the guitar as a colorist and percussionist (at times) is as non-conventional as you can get. All the sounds and dynamics of the sax and trumpet are explored. The album has some darker undertones, but they function by making us work harder to understand, and I’m fairly certain that we are, by this point, starting to get it.

Luís Lopes interview at Bodyspace by Nuno Catarino

Photo by Cristina Cortez

Jazz.pt review by Tiago Morgado

Luís Lopes, Adam Lane, Igal Foni – What is When (CF 146)
O guitarrista lisboeta Luis Lopes iniciou a sua formação musical no Hot Clube de Portugal, mas foi do rock que partiu. Em “What is When” faz-se acompanhar de Adam Lane e Igal Foni, o primeiro um contrabaixista e compositor de excelência que vê em Duke Ellington, Karlheinz Stockhausen e Melt Banana as suas maiores influências e o outro um menos conhecido baterista de Israel que lidera os Genious Goalkeeper.
A primeira faixa do álbum, “Evolution Motive”, funciona quase como um manifesto, com uma dupla dedicatória a Darwin, o teórico do evolucionismo, e a Sonny Sharrock, praticamente o único guitarrista do período áureo do free jazz. É como se nos fosse dado um plano de identificação formal, normativo e simbólico. As referências estéticas são muitas, na perspectiva do avant-jazz, mas buscando contactos com os blues eléctricos, o punk e até a música contemporânea. No tema de abertura, a guitarra entra com um ostinato que vai sendo explorado e desconstruído continuamente. Em “Spontaneus Combustion”, Lopes Trabalha com Texturas de carácter pontilhístico, com o contrabaixo a assumir, num tradicional registo em pizzicato, a predominância a nível do discurso musical, a bateria surgindo apenas com pequenos apontamentos. A estrutura é mais próxima da estandardizada e tem um registo de free jazz, com secções de exposição do tema intercaladas com desconstruções do mesmo. A coesão entre os três elementos é evidente e o modo como funciona a nível de interactividade entre os instrumentistas confere um carácter único à música. “Cerejeiras” arranca com um solo percussivo de métrica livre e quebrada, num jeito quase “ad libitum”, entrando a guitarra de seguida, com motivos de carácter essencialmente tonal-modal, para depois Lane tocar harmónicos com o arco segundo técnicas sul ponticello, pouco frequentes no jazz. O contrabaixo caminha para bordões cada vez mais dissonantes, explorando os recursos do instrumento. “The Siege” faz-nos lembrar algo próximo da música de grupos como Melt Banana, ou mesmo Zu. O nível de sofisticação sobe e se neste tema as conotações são mistas de punk e free, em “Street Clown Girl” as influências da música erudita contemporânea tornam-se óbvias. Regra geral, os músicos dirigem-se progressivamente para um clímax, ao qual sucedem situações mais calmas. Em “Melodic 8” começa o contrabaixo, com Adam Lane a recorrer a “loops”, depois entra Foni e finalmente Lopes, que ganha predominância solística num registo de monodia acompanhada. A nível de tensão e de forma, há um certo carácter de simetria. Em “Chichi Rides The Tiger”, já quase um cartão de visita do contrabaixista americano, essa tensão é cumulativa. Até estilisticamente, indo de um jazz “old school e “straight” para algo no cruzamento com o rock. O final é um dos pontos altos do CD, com um discurso tenso, profundo e arrojado.

Cadence Magazine review by Grego Applegate Edwards

Luis Lopes / Adam Lane / Igal Foni – What is When (CF 146)
“What is When” is a rather exceptional guitar trio. Guitarist Luis Lopes is a new one for me and he is a player of great interest. He tends to play on the outside and alternates between a dryly electric and a high impact straight tone. Beefheartian guitarists, Sharrock in his early period and Ulmer in his outer moments are touch points in describing his style, but only as rough approximation, for he has a distinct bag. Adam Lane goes far in making this a formidable lineup. Arco or pizzicato, he makes a strong contribution with his all-over playing attack and keen sense of drama and momentum. The drummer is new to me but is very musical and capable of Free Swing-Rock inflected outness and open-timed assaults with definite taste. The pieces have good variety and nothing comes near to outwearing its welcome. Some could even have been expanded without undue wear and tear on the listening ear. Just a couple of highlights will suffice to give you an idea of the music. Take “The Siege.” It begins with bass and distorted guitar doing some original sounding, abstract but Rock fused motifs that the drums follow. Then the guitar gets out in a fanfarish, notely way while Lane’s bass blasts a distorted line that has deep resonance and the drums freely rock without a beat or pulse. This is powerful. Now Adam goes it alone with distorted chaos and really digs into it. Then back to the head while Lane flips out! “ChiChi Rides the Tiger” has a swinging head with a densely rhythmic, minor bluesy line all participate in, then a funky riff in seven and off to a guitar solo against the riff for the bass and drums. Lopes plays some nice guitar. He’s not big on chops but what he plays is right and conceptually out with Rock overtones and a dry distortion. I’d much rather hear that than just super technique for its own sake. He’s got big ears and plays out in interesting ways—with distorted chords and bends while bass and drums rock out boisterously in seven. The piece signs off with some vintage Hendrix-like feedback. The album concludes dramatically with a blazing Adam Lane in “Perched Upon An Electric Wire.” It’s Lane alone, riveting the listener with a strongly droned bass sawing. It is a stunner of an ending. This is very easy to recommend. What is When is a cornerstone release among the outside guitar trios I’ve heard of late.
©Cadence Magazine 2010 www.cadencebuilding.com