5

Phisqa: Phisqa

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz has come far in Ireland in the last decade or two, leaving behind the trad-jazz on a Sunday image for an altogether more contemporary scene. In part, this is due to the increasingly cosmopolitan face of the country's cities, and in no small measure to the influence of Dublin's Newpark Music Centre, the only educational institution in Ireland to offer jazz studies. Phisqa is a case in point; the quintet members hail from Peru, South Africa, Italy, Venezuela and Ireland, all bar one are graduates of NMC, and the music has a fresh, modern feel.

Led by drummer/composer Cote Calmet, Phisqa means five in Quechua—a Peruvian language—and reflects the collective input in the arrangements, and the equal weight of the individual contributions throughout. Calmet's compositions are fairly traditional in structure, a sort of hardish bop for the third millennium, but what sets Phisqa apart is the drummer's use of Peruvian rhythms. The South American influence isn't overt, in that Calmet uses almost none of the typical percussive instruments, cajon apart. It is, however, felt in the micro rhythms, and equally, when Calmet is in full flight as on the drum feature "Candela Azul," where there's carnival-esque vibrancy to his playing and the quintet sound.

Calmet and bassist Cormac O'Brien's rhythmic drive is central to the eight compositions but they're built equally upon strong melodic foundations. When saxophonist Chris Engel, guitarist Julien Colarossi, pianist Leopoldo Osio and O'Brien solo the emphasis is on melodic development. However, as Colarossi and Engel's fire on the dynamic opener "Muerdele el Diente" demonstrates, an accessible tune and passionate soloing are perfectly compatible. Strong riffs and singing unison lines are features of the music, along with a sense of the tunes evolving between contemplative plateaus and dramatic peaks—nicely illustrated on "Nuna," which shares some of pianist Danilo Pérez's rhythmic panache and lyricism.

On the catchy, almost chordless "U-Turn," the leitmotif is repeated by the accompanist beneath the soloist; Colarossi states the theme during O'Brien's flowing solo, who in turn picks up the melody as Leopoldo stretches out, shadowed closely by Calmet—a dynamic presence. The bare bones structure of "A Cup of Life" provides a vehicle for Engel's charged soprano solo and a more restrained but elegant reply from Osio. The pianist's gentle intro sets the tone for the slightly wistful "Transition," a feature for O'Brien's deep, earthy lyricism—a constant delight throughout the set.

"Adios Mariquita" hovers between melancholy and nostalgia, with Colarossi injecting a little bite in the set's only ballad. Calmet's charango (lute) brings Andean folk flavor to "Ayarachi," a Quecha music and dance, though the dancing soprano and drums are decidedly more upbeat than the somber Peruvian ritual music. Osio's fast ska motif leads into an extended solo, followed by Colarossi and Engel—all three matching inhibition with tremendous technique in a thrilling send-off. Charango and soprano return in a delicate coda.

This consistently engaging debut highlights Calmet's writing, which embraces the individual and collective strengths. Cosmopolitan in make-up but with a unified vision, Phisqa is an exciting calling card from a young group full of promise.

Track Listing: Muerdele el Diente; U-Turn; A Cup of Life; Nuna; Transition; Candela Azul; Adios Mariquita; Ayarachi.

Personnel: Julien Colarossi: electric guitar; Chris Engel: alto, soprano, baritone saxophones; Cote Calmet: drums, cajon, charango, compositions: Cormac O’Brien: double bass; Leopoldo Osio: piano.

Title: Phisqa | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Study of Touch CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Second Act" CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read "Tom Haines Live" CD/LP/Track Review Tom Haines Live
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 15, 2017
Read "Now Hear This!" CD/LP/Track Review Now Hear This!
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "Pelagos" CD/LP/Track Review Pelagos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 3, 2017
Read "Perceive React" CD/LP/Track Review Perceive React
by Budd Kopman
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "My Picture" CD/LP/Track Review My Picture
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 13, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.