The format of Pilgrimage by the Portuguese quartet Mazam gives listeners the option of skipping any track they do not enjoy. The ensemble gives us fifteen shortish pieces (only three longer than five minutes) to sample, digest, and savor. This is the quartet's second release following Land (Carimbo Porta-Jazz, 2020). The musicians come together with experience in other influential groups. Saxophonist João Mortágua performs in the fusion ensemble Axes, Diogo Alexandre Bock Ensemble, and leads his own band. Pianist Carlos Azevedo is proficient in both classical and jazz. He released the stellar Serpente (Carimbo Porta-Jazz, 2022) with his piano, guitar, bass and drums quartet. Both bassist Miguel Angelo and drummer Mário Costa are members of Azevedo's quartet along with guitarist Miguel Moreira. Ãngelo leads a quartet, a trio MAU, and coleads the quartet MAP. Costa can be heard on recordings by Hugo Carvalhais and Daniel Bernardes.
The various combinations of ensembles these players are in, mean their coming together in Mazam creates a true synergistic effect. Indeed, the whole is much greater than the sum of the individual parts here. The undulating "Sinuous" opens with bubbling notes and meditative passages from piano, saxophone and bowed bass, sounding like a Bernard Herrmann soundtrack to an Alfred Hitchcock thriller. The same movie plot twists are found in the fifty seconds of "Atrium." The even more succinct "Stubble" (38 seconds) echoes the M-BASE sounds of Steve Coleman's music, and the eviscerated approach of "Schism" pulls pieces and parts from the piano's insides and percussive drift into an alert concoction. While many of the tracks are group improvisations, the final sound is very much balanced and gives the impression it is composed. "Pilgrimage" is a sly bit of post-bop gymnastics. While there is the possibility to skip past any of the tracks, many listeners probably won't.
Sinuous; Atrium; Bugbear; Inception; Stubble; Pilgrimage; Pulley; Day Dream; Night Drive; Stubborn;
Roundhouse; Anthill; Mist; Schism; Hollow.
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