Originally released by the relatively obscure CBTM label and newly issued for this top-shelf progressive-jazz entity, we find Portuguese bassist Carlos Barretto pronouncing an up-tempo set which, in part, serves as a testament to his country's fertile jazz scene. And with wider distribution, this well-rounded endeavor could find its way onto many of those year-end top-ten lists.
It's a rock solid set on all fronts as highly-revered French multi-reed artist Louis Sclavis lends his wares on three works. On the opening piece titled "Distresser, Barretto lays down a booming groove that sets the parameters for guitarist Mario Delgado and Sclavis' torrid bass clarinet undercurrents, marked by buoyant unison lines. Moreover, drummer Jose Salguero keeps the train a-rolling with peppery African tom-tom rolls as the band instills notions of an ominously crafted travelogue.
The musicians construct linear motifs while often reversing gears to include the soloists' often-slashing attack. Delgado is apt to slam on his EFX pedal in spots, where the unit engages soul-stirring jazz-rock passages. But the preponderance of these diverse tone poems are redesigned within a Euro-jazz mindset, devised with tricky time signatures and off-kilter shifts in momentum. They explore swing and the free zone. Then on "Searching Delgado's animated and expressive phrasings generate raw heat atop the rhythm section's stinging mode of execution.
Complacency is not part of the group's plan as they execute a Balkan motif during "Asa Celta, sprinkling airy melodies above dramatic forays that instill mystical qualities. Regardless, it would be a criminal injustice if this wondrously absorbing program were to dwell in obscurity.
Personnel: Carlos Barretto: bass; Mario Delgado: guitar; Jose Salguero: drums, percussion; Louis Sclavis: bass clarinet, clarinet, soprano saxophone (1, 4, 10).