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Saxophonist Jorge Reis and his fellow musicians are very capable, and at times they're inspired, as on the soaring second piece on Pueblos, simply titled "S." The lilt in their music may have its source in their Portuguese culture, but they also establish a firm, thrusting swing.
Reis has a full, glowing sound on both of his horns, and he swings reliably. On "In Mami" he reaches inspired heights, while on "Saggara" he attains a floating yet powerful lyricism. As a composer, Reis, who wrote half of the eight compositions on Pueblos, favors long, angular phrases, seemingly reflecting the influence of Dave Douglas. In fact, not only is Douglas one of the dedicatees on the album, but Reis also performs a deeply introspective rendition of one of the great trumpeter's compositions, "Magic Triangle." Overall, Reis proves to be yet another first-rate jazz musician whose origins are outside the United States.
The sidemen on the album make solid, fitting contributions to the music. Guitarist Andre Fernandes is consistent in the inventiveness of his improvising. He plays long, singing lines with a clear, clean sound and original, swinging ideas. Bassist Nelson Cascais and drummer Andre Sousa Machado are an excellent rhythm section, giving the Latin rhythms an attractive airiness, swinging with conviction and improvising well during their solos. It is notable that these musicians don't imitate anybody; they have transcended their influences and established their own identities. Jorge Reis, for one, would never be mistaken for anyone else.
In fact, individuality is but one of the assets that make this album sound so attractive. Jorge Reis and his sidemen are creative and swinging improvisers, and Pueblos represents a high water mark in jazz from Portugal.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.