Guitarist Francisco Pais was born in Lisbon, Portugal and graduated cum laude from Boston's Berklee School of Music after having studied with Pat Metheny, Peter Bernstein, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Mulgrew Miller, Mark Turner and Branford Marsalis. Following his gradution in 2002, he spent years touring through festivals and venues of Europe, as well as performing with American musicians.
Pais' debut presents nine compositons with his group of five years, featuring Chris Cheek (saxophones), Leo Genovese (piano, Fender Rhodes), Massimo Biolcati (bass) and Ference Nemeth (drums). Pais seems to have composed this music to combine jazz fusion and the more contemporary swirls of electronic coloration which undoubtedly give this album its title.
This swirling sound emerges on the opening track, "Water from the Moon," with Genovese's work on the Fender Rhodes sounding like the fusion keyboardists of the '70s and '80s. As I commented in my review of Mike Tucker's 2006 recording Collage, Genovese's use of electronica and acoustic piano reveals how superior the acoustic portion sounds.
Much to my surprise, Pais is a fine soloist in a most mainstream manner. If you were compare his style to Pat Metheny's, it would have to be the clean articulation and rounded notes of the latter's earliest days for ECM in the late '70s. Relative to Pais' other guitar influences (per his studies at Berklee, e.g. Kurt Rosenwinkel and Peter Bernstein), he clearly manifests the mainstream Bernstein more than the quirkier Rosenwinkel.
Is it my imagination, or do we get to hear Pais playing more during the second half of this album? Out of the sometimes swampy melody lines often comes a cleanly played guitar passage and solo. Pais provides guitar fills for Chris Cheek's soprano sax on "Lift Your Head From the Sand and Face Reality" and then they do a clever reversal on the following track, "Desert of Colors," where Cheek does the same for Pais' guitar lines. Creek previously supplied a sturdy melody statement on "Gratitude."
In a nutshell, I'm having difficulty matching the skill and talent of a new guitarist with his preferred mode of writing and sub-genre.
Personnel: Francisco Pais: guitar; Chris Cheek: tenor and soprano saxophones; Ferenc Nemeth: drums;
Leo Genovese: piano, Fender Rhodes; Massimo Biolcati: bass.