For a multinational unit to persist, it must offer sufficient justifications to outweigh the logistical challenges. For Portuguese guitarist Luís Lopes, his Humanization Quartet clearly earns its existence. Believe, Believe is the outfit's fourth album since the recording of its debut in 2007, even though it is some years since the third Live In Madison (Ayler, 2013). While fellow countryman tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado completes the front line, the rhythm section comprises two Texas-based brothers, bassist Aaron Gonzalez and drummer Stefan Gonzalez, perhaps better known as the engine room for Yells At Eels, in tandem with their father, trumpeter Dennis.
Just what are the group's virtues? Prime amongst them is the contrast between the crisp but simple themes and the exuberant free jazz which they engender. Even though Lopes' name takes top billing, he doesn't hog the limelight. Consequently the outfit convinces as a true band, something affirmed by the spread of writing credits among the foursome. But another of the pleasures is the sustained bustling interplay between Amado and Lopes, which dominates the discourse. Even when the reedman might be thought to be outfront, Lopes' invigorating accompaniment suggests a duet.
But the brothers Gonzalez are no slouches either, able to switch back and forth between precision and pileup with panache, as the exciting opener "Eddie Harris/Tranquilidad Alborotadora" makes clear. Amado and Lopes dig into an earthy riff until the quartet slips its moorings, allowing the saxophonist to wield his thick chewy tone in the service of some broad swathes of skronk over choppy pulsations. Lopes' sparse, attractively twangy lines sound as if each note is being prised individually from the fretboard, though he still enjoys some shredding heroics later in the piece. Similarly rewarding out-of-time exchanges illuminate the lilting swing of the charmingly titled "Engorged Mosquitoes" and the insistent jitter of "Brainlust Distraction."
Two passes at Amado's "Replicate" present looser, more organic development, the author worrying a series of hypnotic phrases in consort with Lopes, until the churning rhythm team lock into agitated synchronization in "Replicate I," while "Replicate II" works up a head of steam, culminating in paroxysms of hoarse beseeching tenor. Between times, in another change of pace, on "She" Amado sketches languid ballad contours, while the main event resides in the caffeinated undercurrent set up by Aaron Gonzalez' tasty fills and Stefan Gonzalez stealthy patter. At just over 35-minutes duration, the quality of the conception, means that although short the experience is definitely sweet.
Eddie Harris/Tranquilidad Alborotadora; Replicate I; Engorged Mosquitoes; She; Brainlust Distraction; Replicate II.