Big things were always going to be expected from Brazilian guitar prodigy Pedro Martins after he won the Montreux Guitar Competition in 2015. Under the guidance of Kurt Rosenwinkel, Martins has grown not only as a guitarist but also as a multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer who has left his very own mark on Rosenwinkel's late Caipi project, live as well as in studio. With Vox he now releases his sophomore album, which is ambitious in its stylistic scope as well as in him being the primary musician on every instrument. In a mix of big stadium choruses and melancholically layered synth verses, Martins hides an ocean of intricacies that can be explored over and over again.
The most striking attribute of the compositions on Vox lies within them presenting a multitude of different ideas within short spans of time, bound to compact structures. As a consequence, the room is densely packed with percussion, keyboards, guitars and multiple layers of Martins' angelic falsetto, which is simultaneously guided by and in contrast to the other instruments. In between the continuous introduction of new melodic and rhythmic ideas and seemingly adrift harmonic progressions, catchy choruses fight their way through the thicket to create nostalgic momentum.
Anthem-esque "Nova Maneira" is reminiscent of the Springsteen/Smith-penned "Because the Night," while Chris Potter-featured "Faces" takes a jazz-progression-based approach, giving the saxophone virtuoso just the right foundation to solo over into bliss. Other highlights reveal themselves in the laid-back bossa "Vida" and the likewise Brazilian-flavored "Nao Me Diga naro," in which the Portuguese verses for once aren't drowned in a pool of delay and reverb but give way to soaring guitar lines from Rosenwinkel.
"Venus 13" is constructed around a recurring piano pattern and ride-driven rhythmic interplay, until Martins takes a moment to deliver some crafty lines on guitar. While Martins plays piano on the afore mentioned tune, Brad Mehldau graces "Origem" with his signature key strokes that challenge the already testing harmonic frame.
On Vox Pedro Martin presents an exciting trip which elegantly fuses Pop sensibilities with South American elements, all the while undergoing an undoubtedly jazzy treatment. This is up there with other genre-benders of late, such as Esperanza Spalding's 12 Little Spells or Aaron Parks' instrumental Indi Rock/jazz blend on Little Big. Amid these inventors the young guitarist has found his own little niche and is starting to flourish.
Esqueça; Faces; Nova Maneira; K7 Dreams; Horizonte; Vida; B Side; Não me diga não; Verdade; Venus 13; Origem; Sertão
Profundo; Quem eu sou.
Pedro Martins: guitar, vocals, piano/synths, bass, drums, percussion, flute; Kurt Rosenwinkel: guitar (1, 8, 9, 12), vocals (1, 12),
percussion (11); Antônio Loureiro: drums, percussion; Frederico Heliodoro: bass; Brad Mehldau: piano (11); Chris Potter:
saxophone (2); Kyle Crane: drums (1); Oscar Azevedo: vocals (8).