Although more associated in popular imagination with the longing, saudade-laden sound of fado, Portugal has long supported jazz, boasting Europe's oldest jazz club, Lisbon's Hot Clube de Portugal, important festivals and an active free improv scene.
From Clean Feed, the Lisbon-based label with a stable of Portuguese (and other) creative musicians, comes RED Trio
, with Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano), Hernani Faustino (bass) and Gabriel Ferrandini (drums/percussion), a non-hierarchical, piano-'led' trio that, like the combos of Bill Evans or Paul Bley, grants equal airtime to each participant. One of the factors contributing to this effect is the closely matching tones and timbres of each instrument: Pinheiro's prepared pianoemitting hammered, muted, scraped and bowed notesis sometimes difficult to distinguish from Faustino's high-pitched harmonics or Ferrandini's scratchy cymbals and buzzing gongs. When all three take out their bows, as during the middle section of "Quick Sand," the album's epic centerpiece, the damped, metallic tones blend together seamlessly, like a factory full of flywheels, dynamos and random generators, each rotating at its own speed. In contrast, "Burning Light" comes on like a blast of cold thin air rushing into a rapidly depressurizing airplane cabin for 62 seconds of insanity. Serendipity
, another equilateral musical triangle, with violin instead of bass, teams Italians Gianni Lenoci (piano) and Marcello Magliocchi (percussion) with Portuguese Carlos Zingaro
. Recorded live at the baritone Jazz Festival, these slightly wizened sound sorcerers engage in a series of moods, from the effortless, leisurely cohesion of the third track to the Harpy-like, three-way screeching of the final piece. This rambling conversation covers a range of topics, each member chiming in when the mood takes him. On the fourth track, Zingaro slaps and scratches his strings, bows with lugubrious intensity or trades legato runs with Lenoci like a pair of porpoises playing in the surf. The Abstract Truth
is the sophomore release by Rodrigo Amado
(tenor and baritone saxophones) with Kent Kessler
(bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love
(drums), a free-swinging session of pulsing percussion and sustained intensity. The most 'jazz'-like of the trios reviewed here, it deemphasizes ecstatic blowing and radical tone-bending in favor of a cooler, calmer soundscape, undulating waves breaking into brief solos or duets, only to regroup in a collective surge. The overall balance, pacing and group interactivity feel unforced yet powerful, unhurried yet fleet.
Tracks and Personnel RED Trio
Tracks: Core; Flat; Coda, Static; Quick Sand; Timewise; Burning Light.
Personnel: Gabriel Ferrandini: drums; Hernâni Faustino: bass; Rodrigo Pinheiro: piano. Serendipity
Tracks: Part # 1; Part # 2; Part # 3; Part # 4; Part # 5.
Personnel: Gianni Lenoci: piano, prepared piano; Carlos Zingaro: violin; Marcello Magliocchi: percussion. The Abstract Truth
Tracks: Intro/The Red Tower; Clouds And Shadows; Human Condition; The Kiss; Universe Unmasked: A Dream Transformed; The Enchanted Room; Enigma Of The Arrival.
Personnel: Rodrigo Amado: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Kent Kessler: doublebass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums.