On Live at SMUP, guitarist and composer Jose Dias and his Awareness Quartet have produced a stunning musical landscape centered on Dias' interpretation of literary characters, books and writers. Recorded in 2017 at SMUP, a music venue located in Parede, Portugal, Dias, Francisco Andrade on tenor sax, Goncalo Prazeres on alto and baritone sax and Rui Pereira on drums offer explorations that are explosive and nuanced.
"John Willoughby's Dilemma," the longest cut of the album, begins with a driving head-bopping rock beat brought to life by Pereira's drums and Dias's repetitive riff beneath Andrade's ripping runs. Then the music breaks into ruminative abstractions as the atmosphere takes an immersive and ethereal turn before returning to its rock-beat roots. The bluesy "The Notorious Death of Gustav" features Andrade's moaning and slippery solo atop Pereira's drums.
Created by the strong but subdued interplay of Prazeres, Dias, and Andrade, "The Second Wind of Angela Vicario" has a somber quality, one that evokes reflection on some sad event. "The Innocent Gaze of Humbert" begins playfully, as Andrade's tenor and Prazeres' alto alternate gently over Dias' chordsbut the number grows in complexity and dissonance as it progresses, much like the Nabokov character on which it is based. "Hector Walks Through the Gate" starts with dark stuttering phrases which evolve into haunting sound poems that reflect the loss of Troy's hero. "Hergè's First Girlfriend" highlights a fascinating back and forth between Andrade and Pereira. They are joined by a Prazeres' take-it-out solo and this evolves into Periera's rim playing and Dias abstract guitar sonics.
Live at SMUP demonstrates Dias' penchant for unique guitar voicings, voicings he sculpts to create otherworldly atmospheres. Add to this his beautiful yet driven compositions, and what one has is inventive, cerebral music of the first order.
John Willoughby's Dilemma; The Notorious Death of Gustav; The Second Wind of Angela Vicario; The Innocent Gaze of Humbert; Hector Walks Through the Gate; Hergè’s First Girlfriend; Transformation.
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