Mário Franco Trio: Our Door (2014)
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Our Door, the debut album from the Mário Franco Trio, is lush with nostalgia and camaraderie, but also creates a vibrant breath of fresh air, offering hope for the present and future states of Portuguese jazz.
These gifted musicians met at the end of the 80's in Lisbon's Hot Clube de Portugal, one of the oldest jazz clubs in Europe. As emerging players, they learned the unique syncopated genre there, since it is also a music school, where Sérgio Pelágio, their primary guitarist, was the director for 4 years, and is still a professor.
Bassist and guitarist Franco started taking music lessons when he was four years old, and began his career as a chamber and classical musician at Academia Amadores De Música. Before becoming a jazz man, Franco was a member of Portugal's Orquestra Sinfónica Juvenil. Today, he alternates jazz with chamber music and is a member of the contemporary group Sete Lágrimas. On top of that, Franco has been a dancer at the National Ballet Company of Portugal since 1986. André de Sousa Machado, drummer and percussionist, is also part of The Bernardo Moreira sextet, the Andre Fernandes quintet, and the jazz band Spill.
"Backyard," composed by Franco is one of the album's brightest tracks, in which a listener can better appreciate the cohesion these musicians have accomplished together over the years. It displays some compelling creations, like the calm, hypnotic rhythms of de Sousa Machado. Franco employs the bow to caress his bass during certain fragments of the melody, while Pelágio's guitar accents seem to swim gracefully in a peaceful pool.
The trio forged a special arrangement for John Coltrane's 1959 standard "Giant Steps," on which the lead instrument is the bass. Franco was able to transform the hard bop composition without disrespecting Coltrane's memory. The result is exciting and virtuous, even without an iconic sax like the original. "Our Door," the title track, was composed by Franco and features each musician leading the conversation, though most of the time Pelágio's electric guitar is the main focus.
Pelágio studied guitar with John Abercrombie from 1987 to 1989 and demonstrates refined technique and passion, without showing off. If the trio's camaraderie could have a definitive, single sound it would probably be very similar to Earl Zindar's 1964 composition, "How My Heart Sings!." These three musicians play joyfully, and seem to be enjoying their mutual efforts, a confessed love for jazz, and of course their friendship.
Our Door is an intimate recording in which listeners can learn more about not only the Mário Franco Trio's history and multiple talents, but also about the vibrant and growing Portuguese jazz scene.
Track Listing: Número 1; Paramour; Intro to Our Door; Our Door; Giant Steps; Os Velhos;
Backyard; How my Heart Sings; Ballad for Bernt; Vine; Giant Steps
Personnel: Mário Franco: double bass and acoustic guitar; Sérgio Pelágio: electric
and acoustic guitar; André de Sousa Machado: drums
Record Label: Tone Of A Pitch Records
Style: Modern Jazz