Francisco Pais Quintet: Not Afraid Of Color (2006)
Instead of going for the typical chops-laden style that marks most releases, Portuguese guitarist Francisco Pais takes a more relaxed approach with Not Afraid of Color. Backed by a sure-fire quartet featuring saxophonist Chris Cheek and pianist Leo Genovese, his music is easy on the ears but also provides cerebral enjoyment.
Pais' compositional skills combine elements of American jazz with European classical and pop styles. The first selection, "Water From the Moon, gets my vote for most interesting composition. It begins with a dreamy guitar/sax melody that's then bridged by a dynamic drum solo into a funky swirling pattern with frenzied Fender Rhodes and drum solos leveling back into the calm melody.
But the remaining selections carry the tone of the initial impression: soothing harmony. Pais is a very good musician, much more than just a Rosenwinkel or Metheny mimic: an individual with his own ideas. His playing is light, bluesy and intricate on "Gratiude, allowing the other instruments to take the center until he comes in with a confident and swinging solo.
There are many places where one might want to hear more of Pais out front, but the emphasis is more on arrangements and quintet interaction on "Always Dreaming and "Desert of Colors where the guitarist adds harmonics and slight effects to color the somber mood.
His working quintet of five years understands this cool approach. On "Charmed, Genovese delivers a dissonant and abstract solo into the pleasant melody. The solid rhythm section of bassist Massimo Biolcati and the extremely hot drummer Ferene Nemeth gets a chance to glow on the lively "Melody for Damien, and Cheek's airy saxophone blends nicely with the exotic rhythm of "Transfiguration.
Track Listing: Water From the Moon; Gratitude; Tides; Always Dreaming; Melody for Damien; Transfiguration; Lift your Head From the Sand and Face Reality; Desert Of Colors; Charmed;
Personnel: Francisco Pais: guitar; Chris Cheek: saxophones; Ferenc Nemeth: drums; Leo Genovese:piano, Fender Rhodes; Massimo Biolcati: bass.