Pedro Melo Alves: In Igma

Karl Ackermann BY

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Pedro Melo Alves: In Igma
Jazz has had a presence in Portugal since the mid-1920s but had found itself in decline from the 1970s. The revolutionary jazz scene in Portugal, circa the 2010s, has produced a profusion of rising stars. Violist Ernesto Rodrigues, trumpeter Susana Santos Silva, Orquestra Jazz De Matosinhos, and the Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble are among those who have emerged as influential beyond the Portuguese border. Two driving forces in that country's improvised music—drummer-percussionist Pedro Melo Alves and experimental guitarist Abdul Moimême—team with veteran American bassist Mark Dresser and French pianist Eve Risser on In Igma.

Just out of his twenties, Alves has already established himself as a genre-defying improviser, and he blurs lines here combining primal and ethereal elements. Beatriz Nunes, Mariana Dionísio, and Aubrey Johnson's vocal contributions emphasize the latter, soaring in high-pitched discord. Moimême and Melo Alves utilize a wide array of effects from customized electric guitars and percussion. Dresser's deep, earthy tones and Risser's reflective prepared piano sometimes act as anchors but are just as often a further expansion of the music.

The five tracks on In Igma flow together as a suite; intuitive, asymmetrical lines painted in extensive brushstrokes. It is a purge and celebration together in a richly detailed fantasy world. The altered voices are alien but expressive, with pleasing little minutiae like a spray of throat singing against the backdrop of Dresser's droning bowed bass, single notes from Moimême's custom-made guitars and then a swirl of sound where nothing seems earthly. Melo Alves' nuanced musicality is rendered in his precise use of cymbals and gongs. In Igma has an air of mystery which can be dense and piercing, its movements distorted in unfamiliar ways. But, in totality, it is a highly satisfying and wholly inimitable work of art.

Track Listing

Crack; In Igma I - Code; Organum; In Igma II – On Meaning; In Igma III - On Void.


Pedro Melo Alves: drums; Eve Risser: piano; Mark Dresser: bass, acoustic; Abdul Moimême: guitar, electric.

Additional Instrumentation

Aubrey Johnson: vocals; Beatriz Nunes: vocals; Mariana Dionísio: vocals.

Album information

Title: In Igma | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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