Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bassist Hugo Carvalhais Crafts Some Extraordinary Ensemble Jazz

Portuguese bassist Hugo Carvalhais has shown on the new Nebulosa CD (Clean Feed 201) that there is a way to have some really interesting free-yet-structured music going that incorporates electronics as it would another horn or keyboard--that is, they become an integral part of the ensemble.

On this recording date it's a very intelligent mix of Hugo on bass and electronics, Gabriel Pinto on piano and synthesizer, Mario Costa on drums, and, for most of the cuts, the always-coherent Tim Berne on the alto.

Mr. Carvalhais plays a meaty and well-conceived style of contrabass with great attention to sound and use of space; Gabriel Pinto has a harmonic-melodic richness to his playing that adds much to the group; Mario Costa drives and tumbles from the drum chair in ways that suggest adeptly various velocities and densities in the freetime zone; Tim Berne is magnificent as you might expect; the electronics provide quasi-orchestral sound colors and timbres that really add to the music. And Mr. Pinto takes a few nice synthesizer-as-horn solos that bring out another dimension to the group.

This could easily be passed over in the scuffle for attention that characterizes the new release media blitz. It most assuredly should not. Because there is some terrific music here--compositionally, improvisationally and ensemble-wise.

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