Jan 20 2014
In the liner notes to Memória de Amiba, bassist André Carvalho talks about his fascination with the concept of memory, and how they relate to album tracks. And in that way that memories are rooted in a clear vision of a brief moment that gradually becomes fuzzier the more one attempts to expand its circumference, so is constructed the music of Carvalho’s newest release. Each time for each album track, a memorable, strongly constructed melody is presented right from the start, clear as day, and as each song develops, the music drifts further away from that initial statement of memory, growing more opaque, and resembling more the stuff of dreams.
It makes for some very compelling music.
Your album personnel: André Carvalho (double bass), Jorge Reis (soprano & alto saxes), Zé Maria (tenor sax), Bruno Santos (guitar), Jeffery Davis (vibes), Óscar Graça (piano), João Rijo (drums), and guests: André Santos (guitar) and Ricardo Toscano (alto sax).
“Bleistift” is a great example of this pattern. Vibes and drums start right out of the gate with some lively rhythmic action, and it serves as the launching point for the Reis & Maria double saxophone statement of a clear, concise, lovely melody. Bass and piano shadow the melody’s flight course until the time is ripe for them to take the song in a new direction. Carvalho’s bass takes quick loping steps alongside Graça’s piano’s skittering motion. Eventually the ensemble returns for a final statement of melody, bringing the tune back to the nest, before, once again, taking it away, winding the song down with a bit of deconstruction, retaining a semblance of the melody, but framing it in a display of dissonance.
Album opener “Chamada Não Atendida” is no different in this regard. It leaves the gate with a bit less urgency and a lighter touch, but that strong melody is right out front. This time it’s sax and vibes offering it up, and when they leave the melody behind and head off on to other adventures, it’s Jeffery Davis’s vibes that provide the greatest thrills.
“Tadzio” teases with the melody first via a pensive piano opening, but then Reis gets down to it on soprano sax. The added textures of Bruno Santos’s steel strings and Rijo’s percussion bring a rustic element to the bright notes that is a lovely contrast and terribly captivating.
Graça gets the melody started out on “Selina Kyle,” and it’s his interplay with bassist Carvalho deeper into the tune that is the brightest moment on this song.
Even “Contemplações do Panteão,” which begins with a solo vibes intro, and then casually gets to the melody with a languid expression by Maria on tenor sax, even here the strong pattern of leading out with melody continues. The pulsing of Santos’s electric guitar adds an appealing ambient tone to saxophone harmonies and vibes accompaniment.
Drummer Rijo solos the introduction to “Nóia do Gil,” which leads to some urgency from the saxophone section as they get the song underway. Later, when Davis steps out front on vibes with a smoother flight pattern, it’s the drum and bass teamwork of Rijo and Carvalho that maintains the sense of urgency, almost coaxing vibes to get back in line with the prevailing tempo and tone. Santos, again, adds some intriguing textures on guitar, first with an electric crunch, then as a harmonic device with trails of wavering distortion, which, in turn, develops into a breath of heat with a straight-ahead solo section.
“Vi e Maria” expresses itself with patience and care, which is why the wind-down’s sudden acceleration, led by vibes and drums, is so damn thrilling.
The album ends with “Aunt Beru.” Oscar Graca’s mesmerizing piano solo is what most needs to be mentioned here, and the way it pulls other instruments into its orbit. It’s a sublime moment, and its effect remains even when the ensemble returns en masse and picks up both tempo and temperature.
Released right near the end of 2013, it was too late to consider this album for my Best of 2013 list, as my cutoff (and that of many other reviewers) typically runs from November to November. However, this album will get some attention when the Best of 2014 lists start getting compiled.
Released on TOAP Records.
Jazz from the Lisbon, Portugal scene.