At some point in the past, jazz from Europe, like wines from America, was second-class stuff, adequate, but somehow out of sync with the real thing. Nowadays, though, you'd have to be a complete loon not to appreciate the craftsmanship and excellence of European jazz (the same goes for American wine).
Portuguese bassist Zé Eduardo, the leader on A Jazzar No Zeca, together with saxophonist Jesus Santandreu and drummer Bruno Pedroso, shows off a keen sense of jazz that swings like, dances like, and, most importantly, excites like American jazz. Although they interpret the music of the Portuguese singer José Afonso, not knowing the source material is hardly a hindrance, as the group takes considerable liberties in their post-bop interpretations. There's an agitated, almost volatile energy to the group's motions as they dissect each tune, occasionally veering into playful tangents, though always finding their way back to the original theme.
Though all the members have ample space to solo, saxophonist Santandreu comes through as the dominant voice on the album. Sporting an assertive tone and a patient mind, Santandreu's lines flow with assurance and excitement, especially on the wah-wah drenched march of "Canto Moco." Overall, though, it is the group's jerky, syncopated interactions that most delights on A Jazzar No Zeca.
The Portuguese Clean Feed label is doing what many of our own independent jazz labels, notably Blue Note, used to do: discover and celebrate nascent jazz talent. This album, like many other selections in their catalogue, is some of the best jazzAmerican, European, or otherwisecurrently available.
Track Listing: Era de Noite e Levaram; Grandola Vila Morena; Canto Moco; O Que
Faz Falta; Cora da Primavera; Traz Outro Amigo Tambem; Cantar Alentejano;
Escandanavia-Bar; Clean Free