Neither life nor jazz is simple or linear. On any given event there are multiple possible interpretations and perspectivessome will stand up to scrutiny others will not. At its most extreme there is the entitled trickster who shouts of their integrity even as they rob you in their consummate selfishness, but sometimes it is just that our accumulated experiences show different angles on the same basic events. Our finest jazz musicians can offer startling perspectives on familiar material, yet some look to go further -which brings us to this new album of ten compositions by the Miguel Angelo Quarteto. The set up is that each piece is inspired by fictional and other narratives, brought to life by the band's interpretations yet open enough for the listener to add their own narrative or perspective on the story told.
The point is emphasised by the commission of artists to produce an illustration for each track in the limited edition of the CD booklet giving another view of the life of the fictional "X" while being a stylish presentation of the music to boot. To be strict, does stand out opener "Missao ao Planeta RJ45" need the impressionistic slash and curves of its illustration to succeed? Well no, but the artwork definitely adds a fresh dimension and is certainly in sympathy with the music, whatever your tastes in that regard. But who is the mysterious 'X'? Given that Angelo composed all of the music here and the front cover illustration shows the lower half of a torso completed by a horizontal double bass above the waist, it is tempting to attribute some degree of auto biography to the pieces. Since the promotional material is intentionally vague, we can go no further than suggest that the possibility that the album is intended to soundtrack the cycle of possible lives, of an 'everyman' fictional or otherwise.
Musically the aforementioned "Missao ao Planeta RJ45" balances the optimistic "Soulful Strut/Am I the Same Girl" feel of Joaquim Rodrigues' piano part against the melancholy of João Guimarães' alto- saxophone to great effect. The impression is of a journey begun with both excitement and trepidation as the musicians negotiate this most engrossing of pieces. Elsewhere there is a stillness about tracks like the title "A Vida de X," where the supreme control of tempo from Angelo's bass adds greatly to the mystery evoked by the cascade of piano notes and their interaction with the saxophone.
"Pop & Lume" begins with an effervescent EST lightness -before collapsing into a spacious, free-er, troubled, downtempo middle section. The more conventional original theme is only briefly reprised, leaving the listener feeling disquietened without really being able to pinpoint why. The subsequent sequencing of the melancholy, gentle and cultured "Cinzento" [grey] and the tightly hemmed in "1 de Abril" suggests a coping with restriction that is released by the penultimate track "Qualquer Coisa" [Anything] which has something of a meditative walk on a sunny day about it.
This is an album that beguiles gradually rather than being an instant infatuation. It is like the friend you feel comfortable with, who is unobtrusive yet steadfast, and whose worth is proven over time. Those are the people to keep close, and this is an album to valuegreat stuff.
Missão ao Planeta RJ45; O0; Feriró & Putchin; Unveil; A Vida de X; Pop & Lume;
Cinzento; 1 de abril; Qualquer Coisa;E viveram separados para sempre... .
Miguel Ângelo:bass & compositions; João Guimarães: alto saxophone; Joaquim
Rodrigues: piano; Marcos Cavaleiro: drums.