This is Portugal-born, now London-based Vitor Pereira's second album for the F-IRE label which again features alto saxophonist Chris Williams, already renowned in the UK for his stellar work with Led Bib and Let Spin. It takes just a few plays but once you "get it," the albums starts to fall into place as something quite remarkable. The chief asset of this quintet is the employment of the two saxophones, playing the ensemble passages alternatively in unison or harmony. This was the device similarly used over half a century ago by tenorist Don Rendell on his eponymous Roarin' quintet album recorded for Jazzland Records, where his alto sax sparring partner was the legendary Graham Bond.
From the album's start "Age Of Austerity" uses the saxophones to dynamic and gripping effect. So it continues with "New World" but more so, the ensemble following the unison pattern of the labyrinthine melody combined with tricky stop/start timings. A similar pattern ensues with the elegant "Bohm's Hologram" here with the emphasis on harmonic structures.
Up until this point Vitor Pereira's presence on guitar has been subdued but on "Empire Of Lies" this changes by virtue of dramatic overdriven guitar riffs interspersed within the piece as if to reinforce the darker, threatening message of its title.
"Under The Pillow" is, by contrast, a pastoral number with delicate guitar and a sonorous bass solo from Andrea Di Biase. "Gangsters Undercover" sees a return to the serpentine twin-sax driven melodic statements, following which Pereira offers another distortion-infused solo, and there's a fiery tenor solo from George Crowley. On "Miranda" a rhythmic pulse gradually progresses the opening theme, initially stated by the alto but hotly pursued by the tenor, resolving into a relatively more swinging affair, via a pizzicato bass solo and a chiming guitar outing, but still retaining an attractive quirkiness omnipresent on the whole album.
Chris Williams introduces the memorable melody to "Simple Disguise" with George Crowley providing the harmony. Williams also gives a coruscating alto solo before the ensemble returns to the theme. A tranquil collective improvisational interlude ensues before the drums kick back in to herald the final coda. The album closes with "Surfing Mini Waves," a harmonically satisfying vehicle for what proves one of Pereira's longer guitar solos.
Pereira's clever contrapuntally-infused compositions and arrangements -the titles of which often reflect his misgivings for the state of an unscrupulous global economic system -are mature and complex, yet adhere to the memory like glue. As a leader, Pereira follows the Miles Davis approach, which is to push his colleagues to the fore and, for his own part, to take considered and reflective solos. It's also significant that all the musicians on the album are undoubtedly burgeoning musical leaders in their own right. It's yet another positive indicator of the excellent new wave hitting the UK jazz scene.
Age Of Austerity; New World; Bohm's Hologram; Empire Of Lies;
Under The Pillow; Gangsters Undercover; Miranda; Simple Disguise;
Surfing Mini Waves.
Vitor Pereira: guitar; Chris Williams: alto sax; George Crowley: tenor
sax; Andrea Di Biase: bass; Dave Hamblett: drums.
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