Quare is Portuguese-born/New York-resident guitarist André Matos' third album as a leader, and his first for saxophonist Greg Osby's Inner Circle Music label. The label might be the guitarist's natural musical home, as he offers a variation on the theme of the tradition every bit as singular as Osby's; this album could have been yet another take on the post-bop mainstream, Matos clearly has a deep enough appreciation of the music to realize that it withers on the vine if it doesn't evolve.
Matos' music is infused with his own evolution as a player and composer; a balance that makes "Hope and Joy" unrestrained, yet leavened by the leader's harmonic sense, which for all the surface dissimilarities between their respective approaches has the faintest echoes of guitarist Jim Hall. Restraint, however, is merely a part of an extensive armory: set against Leo Genovese's expansive piano on "Hanging with Zuco," Matos opts for more minimal lines, accordingly coaxing out an entirely different mood.
His music isn't merely about technique, either. He obviously has it in abundance, yet he never mistakes the over-application of it as the only key to musical communication. On "Final Spin," the tension between him and relatively hyperactive drummer Ted Poor sets up a nice contrast, and when the release does come, it's not in the obvious fashion. Indeed, the core trio throughout this set is so well attuned that it's often the collective work which most catches the ear.
Which might (and does) suggest diffidence on the part of Matos. The guitarist is not a showy player, although it's clear, on "Seven," he's a sly, allusive soloist. Sara Serpa's wordless singingone of three tracks on which she contributesfalls right in with the mood of the piece, proving empathetic with the prevailing musical climate, but it's Matos who takes the solo honors, highlighting his highly personal rhythmic conception.
Finally, Quare's three interludes confound expectations: on one hand, they might highlight an impish spirit; on the other, they're tantalizing in their cumulative intimation of a musical outlook more expansive than suggested by the rest of the program. Whatever the answer, it's clear that Matos is playing for keeps.
Lucky Star; Interlude 1; Harlem Days; Quare; Hanging with Zuco; Interlude 2; Voice Intro; Seven; Joy and Hope; Exile; Hope and Joy; Canto do Tejo; Interlude 3; Final Spin; Vigia; Ending.
Andre Matos: electric guitar, acoustic guitar; Leo Genovese: piano, electric piano, optigan; Thomas Morgan: bass (1, 3-5, 7-12, 14, 15); Ted Poor: drums (1, 3-5, 7, 8, 10-12, 14, 15); Noah Preminger: tenor sax (2, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16); Sara Serpa: voice (4, 7, 8).
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