Recorded live four days before the studio session which produced For Sale (Clean Feed, 2015), with three of the same participants, it's not surprising that Chamber 4 shares many of the same positives too. A similar blend of nationalities holds sway. French brothers Valentin and Théo Ceccaldi reaffirm their mastery of cello and violin respectively. Portuguese trumpeter Luis Vicente hereby records another promising entry in his discography, following Clocks & Clouds (FMR, 2014) and Zero Sum (JACC Records, 2014). Replacing drummer Marco Franco, his countryman guitarist Marcelo dos Reis nonetheless contributes impetus and momentum, along with intriguing random elements from his prepared instrument.
As befits their chosen moniker, the band's music does call to mind chamber expression, but also throws into the mix contemporary classical, improv and folky lyricism, with the focus shifting fluidly between them in overlapping layers which gradually modulate as the piece evolves. That's demonstrated straight from the off, as "Green Leafs" at one moment suggest baroque elegance, but then the next Moorish-tinged inflections of Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain. Individual ego is completely subsumed and put at the service of a wonderfully refined group ethos.
"Timber Bells" serves as a good illustration of the restraint needed to carry this off, with Valentin Ceccaldi's cello only joining towards the end of the selection, which begins with dos Reis guitar tolling bell-like while the violin paints a delicate lament, seconded by muted trumpet. An important part of their sound, the lyrical component manifests most obviously in Vicente's trumpet, but echoes persist in both the violin and the cello. Of course, the trumpeter also splutters and exclaims explosively. But whatever he does packs charge, thrown into sharp relief by the austerity of the strings.
The Ceccaldi siblings have absorbed from their studies with Jöelle Léandre the ability to improvise in stark melodically informed lines. The nearest thing to a lead voice surfaces in the insistent keening violin, overlain on a rippling undercurrent of guitar and cello early on during the lengthy "Wooden Floor." From a point edging close to desperation, the mood morphs into one of chortling trumpet and intermittent strummed guitar, before a dirge-like finale. On the closing "Lumber Voices" the wordless ethereal vocals of dos Reis and Valentin Ceccaldi add a triumphal sheen to the swelling threnody, supplementing the emotional kick of the trumpet air for an uplifting conclusion.
Green Leafs; Timber Bells; Some Trees; Wooden Floor; Lumber Voices.
Luis Vicente: trumpet; Valentin Ceccaldi: cello, voice; Théo Ceccaldi: violin; Marcelo dos Reis: acoustic guitar, prepared guitar, voice.