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MoFrancesco Quintetto: Piedra Solar (MoFrancesco Quintetto)

Budd Kopman By

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The MoFrancesco Quintetto, led by super-bassist Francesco Valente is one powerhouse group that will blow your socks off playing originals anchored in hard-bop with an Iberian twist, but who also can show a softer, more melodic side.

Piedra Solar features the core group (Valente, drummer/percussionist José Miguel Moreira, pianist Iuri Gaspar, Johannes Krieger on trumpet with Joao Capinha on tenor sax and flute or multi-instrumentalist (saxophones and flutes) Guto Lucena, and here with guest vocalists Jaco Loredo and Aline Frazao and the exceptional pandeiro-ist Marcos Suzano.

The set begins with two scorching Valente originals "Ala'Ad -Din" and "Abraxas" that are set up by a driving Valente and Moreira leading to a unison declaration of the theme, followed by by literally scorching solos; only the dead could keeping from moving.

The heavy heat and groove is maintained by another Valente original, "Olipiso" (the original name of Lisbon) highlighted by a fantastic baritone break solo by Lucena, and later "Mobocracy" with another terrific solo, this time by Capinha on tenor. Valente scores again with "Miracolo A Milano" which bubbles and churns below a hot trumpet solo, while Krieger adds his own burning composition "Mukambo."

All of the above would be quite enough for any band, but these rhythmically powerful pieces are made all the more exciting by the interposition of the more lyrical and romantic pieces. "Tres Morillas," has a very pretty melody (anonymous Andalusian, 15th-16th century), sung very fetchingly by Aline Frazao; but even here Valente adds a twist, taking a melodic fragment and using it in a break, with fragment's line compressed into a sharp piano chord, repeated over a bass solo tension building relentlessly until Frazao returns to recapitulate. "Persian Story" follows, introduced by a bouncing-bow bass solo intro, with a slightly higher energy level, featuring wonderful trumpet and flute solos.

There are two very interesting musical settings of words, "Vuelta De Paseo," by Federico Garcia Lorca and "Aparecio En La Noche" by an anonymous 15th-16th century Andalusian poet. The set ends with a lilting tune by Vitor Santana that just invites everyone to hum or sing along.

Valente's homage to the Iberian peninsula through the language of jazz fused with the sounds of the Mediterranean succeeds both musically and emotionally.

Track Listing: Ala’Ad-Din; Abraxas; Tres Morilla; Persian Story; Olisipo; Vuelta De Paseo; Start Flying Song; Mobocracy; Impressiones Intimas; Apareció; Miracolo A Milano; Mukambo; Ambos Mundos.

Personnel: Francesco Valente: acoustic bass, electric bass; Miguel Moreira: drums; Iuri Gaspar: piano; João Capinhar: alto sax; Johannes Krieger: trumpet; Guto Lucena: tenor sax, baritone sax, flute, bass flute; Marcos Suzano: percussion; Aline Frazão: voice; Jaco Loredo: voice.

Title: Piedra Solar (MoFrancesco Quintetto) | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Sintoma Records

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