Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Macuco Quintet: Friendly Signs


Macuco Quintet: Friendly Signs


Sign in to view read count
Macuco Quintet: Friendly Signs
The Macuco Quartet's joyful and exuberant Friendly Signs suggests a Brazilian seaside or urban landscape where daylight tropical breezes and palm trees sway over a harbor and waves lap gently along a shore lively with music and dancing.

Joel Springer, the composer of all but one of the album's 11 tunes, keeps things on a playful boppish footing for the most part, and the group, composed of saxophonists Allan Chase, Rick Stone (Guitar), and Springer himself, plus Fernando Huergo on bass and Austin McMahon on drums and percussion, embraces the whimsical compositions in a spirited manner.

With their complex harmonies and rhythms, the sax trio sometimes sounds like the World Saxophone Quartet (Springer's liner notes specifically cite Julius Hemphill as an influence and the only cover is the tune "Touchic" which was recorded by the WSQ). At other times, the trio play with a sophisticated Ellingtonian beauty. Often, one saxophonist will solo as the other two match wits with the rhythm section.

While the technique is impressive, what strikes one as significant is Springer's amazing arrangements, which give the players plenty of room to express the tropical influences of the music. "Itajuba" is about the closest thing to a ballad on the album, and in its subtle beauty, it is the only tune on the album that is more pensive than festive. "Friendly Signs" is a happy outburst with a Weather Report rhythm. "Modernismo" feels like a Rio beach scene, further enhanced by the tropical feeling in McMahon's marching solo. About midway through "Os Gemeos" the music becomes more abstract but does not lose its equatorial feel. "Postcard to Carla" is dedicated to Carla Bley. It's like driving a convertible top down on Rio's Avenida Vieira Souto on a crowded Saturday afternoon. "Leaping Over a Black Pool" hops back and forth, the music bubbling like a fresh helping of Sopa de Camarao. "Touchic" works as well, the drums and bass providing a solid foundation to the rhythmic jags of the tune.

Colorful, imaginative, and optimistic, the music on Friendly Signs is smile-inducing. At its best, it elicits memories of a resort, sipping milk from a coconut in the shade.

Track Listing

Macucos; Itajuba; Friendly Signs; Modernismo; More Serious; Os Gêmeos; Postcard to Carla; Sun & Clouds; Leaping Over a Black Pool; Johannzinho; Touchic' (by Julius Hemphill).


Macuco Quintet
band / ensemble / orchestra

Allan Chase: soprano, alto, baritone saxophones; Rick Stone: alto saxophone (right channel); Joel Springer: tenor, sopranino saxophones; Fernando Huergo: bass; Austin McMahon: drums, percussion.

Album information

Title: Friendly Signs | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Lowdog



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Elegy for Thelonious
Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble
Mendoza - Hoff - Revels
Marco Baldini
Hackney Diamonds (2CD)
Rolling Stones


Jazz Hands
Bob James
London Afrobeat Collective
Light Streams
John Donegan - The Irish Sextet

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.