The full power of Coreto's music is felt in the combinatorial possibilities that exist with eleven individualists pulling their weight. This particular project is the first of what promises to be many from the Porto-Jazz Association, a collective of strong, modern jazz personalities based in Oporto, Portugal. Though still at an early stage as a cooperative unit, this album is a good indication that the association has the potential to do for its scene what the Brooklyn Jazz Collective has done on the other side of the pond: pool its resources to create intriguing music that bonds its members together as a group, but highlights its unique personalities.
Aljamia focuses on compositions written by João Pedro Brandão, who occupies the band's alto saxophone/flute chair. Brandão's modus operandi is based around constant thinning and thickeningjuxtaposing singular elements against one another, and mixing light with darkand he does all of this quite well. Firm ostinatos often hold things in place, but the band is equally intriguing when left to loose exploratory devices and atmospheres ("Corrente"). Plenty of players get their moment in the sun, as one piece may open with a lengthy bass excursion and end with a drum solo over a seesawing piano ostinato ("Satirico"). Along the way, it's fascinating to see how Brandão builds things up and breaks them down.
Odd combinations, like flute against bass ("Kalenderi"), seem completely normal in Coreto's world, which thrives on the unexpected. While this band seems at home in moody environs, whether creating busy cross-melodic traffic or simply exploring a minor key arena, it's also capable of creating extreme beauty and joyous affairs. The luxuriant harmonies at the outset of "Aeroporto" are ambrosia for the ears, while "Danças a Leste" is an outright aural party.
The members of Coreto (a.k.a. The Porta-Jazz Association) have discovered what many such newly sprouted organizations across the world have realized. While it's nice to do your own thing, and everybody needs their own sound, strength comes not from the individual, but from the collective powers at play when these individuals band together to share their resources and skills.
Personnel: João Pedro Brandão: alto saxophone, flute; José Pedro Coelho: tenor saxophone; Fernando Sanchez: tenor saxophone; Rui Teixeira: baritone saxophone; Ricardo Formoso: trumpet; Susana Santos Silva: trumpet; Daniel Dias: trombone; Andreia Santos: trombone; Alexandre Dahmen: piano; José Carlos Barbosa: double bass; José Marrucho: drums.