Sunday, November 26, 2017

2 Sem 2017 - Part Eleven

Colin Vallon

By Karl Ackermann

Pianist Colin Vallon seems on the verge of a creative breakthrough with his new trio album Danse. With his third ECM trio release Vallon has cemented a personal approach to his music; it is one that has taken time to unfold much like many of his compositions. In his writing, as well as group interplay, the pianist has made a science of exploring open spaces and filling them with nuanced textures or opting for minimalism.
Vallon's influences include not only the familiar names of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and Gyögy Ligeti but pop artists like Thom Yorke (Radiohead) and Björk. Here the pianist reunites with bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Julian Sartorius, both from his all-Swiss group on Le Vent (2015). Moret has been a working colleague for more than a decade and Sartorius had replaced Samuel Roher following Rruga (2014) and other pre-ECM albums.
The eleven compositions on Danse do not so much move the needle forward for Vallon and company as they do further refine the composer's excellent compositions. Having written nine of the eleven tracks on the album he clearly keeps the strengths of Moret and Sartorius in mind. The opening "Sisyphe" is an exquisite piece that demonstrates the perfect synergy between Vallon and Moret. Classical influences are apparent in "Tsunami" even as Sartorius' propulsion creates a tautness and—eventually—alters the motif. The title track offers a more intentionally disjointed relationship between piano and bass surprisingly held together by Sartorius while "L'onde" is more upbeat and pleasantly off-kilter. The drummer's light and musical touch can be best be appreciated on the beautiful "Kid" and that atmosphere bleeds into the brief "Reste." The album closes out with the hypnotic "Morn" and a second variation of "Reste."
Vallon has yet to find a broader and well-deserved audience in the US but that is logically a matter of time with three attention-demanding ECM releases. Much of his music exemplifies tranquility, even in the quirkier numbers, but there is always a restive quality, a tension that holds one's consideration and makes this more than a minimal experience. Danse has moments of unsurpassed beauty, offset by inventive, searching passages that portend the unexpected paths Vallon journeys down.
Track Listing:
Sisyphe; Tsunami; Smile; Danse; L’onde; Oort; Kid; Reste; Tinguely; Morn; Reste (var.).
Colin Vallon: piano; Patrice Moret: double bass; Julian Sartorius: drums.

Yamandu Costa & Alessandro Penezzi

By Jo at Choromusic
Two well known and acclaimed Brazilian guitarists, Yamandú Costa and Alessandro Penezzi have joined forces in recording the shown CD Quebranto that was released by the Biscoito Fino label last month (more info here). The CD has thirteen tracks of amazing guitar duets featuring music composed and/or arranged by the two guitarists. The music reflects different aspects of the Brazilian guitar tradition which are celebrated in the disc. What keeps the project together and generates a successfull disc is the mutual conception of the music and exceptional technical skills applied by both musicians.
According to a published interview with Alessandro Penezzi (- available in Portuguese only, here) the CD has been a long time underway, quote (my English translation): " It was born of a mutual desire that we had to make a record together. About ten years ago, we met at his [Yamandú's] house and began to compose. We recorded some songs in a homemade way. However, only later did we decide to finish the album, putting the idea on paper. I've known Yamandu for a long time, since when I went to live in São Paulo, around 2002. In fact, we became friends, as if we already knew each other.(-) If we add up all the time we have taken to the design and composition of this record, it's years. We started writing it for about three or four years ago, but the idea came before as I said". The collaboration was complicated because of geographical distance between the two guitarists, however, "We solved this a few times with contacts via Skype, WhatsApp, email, and it was like this. When we had a reasonable number of compositions and we needed to rehearse the arrangements, we decided to go to Yamandu's house".
The CD celebrates the Brazilian guitar, its tradition and players - Penezzi puts it this way in the interview, quote "The Brazilian guitar is a character of many faces - from Latin, from Latin blood, from the energy and strength that comes from the Spanish influence, the black guitar, the Creole, the Gaucho ... In fact, there is not an interpreter specifically there [in the music at the disc] , but the soul of the guitar. We seek, by means of sonorous brushstrokes, to give our vision". When asked what are some of the main peculiarities of the Brazilian guitar/violão, Penezzi says there are several "... but I would say the right hand, which is vigorous and has enough of (-) that percussive thing that comes from the Afro root. At the same time, it works hard on polyphony and praises for virtuosity, because of the flameco and Spanish influence. It is a guitar of many peculiarities". The front cover illustration of the CD, which is copied from a graphic work by Stephan Doitschinoff, reflects some of the peculiarities of the right hand technique used by Brazilian guitarists according to Penezzi, quote "There's a gypsy thing about it, which, incidentally, is one of our influences. When we speak of Spanish flamenco music, it includes the gypsy vein, which carries a whole mystical, exoteric baggage." The title of the CD, Quebranto, which also is the title of one of the compositions by Penezzi at the CD, further reflects the gypsy aspect - the word 'quebranto' in gypsy exoteric knowledge points to a spell that casts itself through the gaze to bewitch someone. In a way, this is exactly what happens between musicians when interacting directed by the spirit of the music - it's a spellbinding experience which unites the musician with his or her instrument and at the same time directs the performance and interplay as a unity.
As mentioned, there are thirteen tracks at the CD, five of them contain collaborated compositions by the two guitarists (Capitão do Mato, Chico balanceado, Amigo Bonilha, Valsa Morena and Chaparral), three tracks have pieces composed by Penezzi (É chorando que se aprende, Dayanna and Quebranto), Yamandú also has three self penned pieces (Samba pro Rafa, Bolero negro and Saracoteco) while the two remaining tracks are devoted to a Valsa seresta no. 1 by Sergio Belluco (Penezzi's teacher of the violão) and a collaborate work by Yamandú and his teacher Lucio Yanel entitled Meus gurizinhos. - Yamandú takes a leading role in most of the recorded tunes playing the themes while Penezzi contributes accompaniement but also gets solo spots besides showing off exceptional technical skills like Yamandú. The interplay between the two guitarists is amazing and reveals a mutual responsiveness and shared understanding of the music, which keep the spontaneity and energy of the performance in a direct way that is rare in produced studio recordings. The result is a magnificent production and I highly recommend the CD to anyone with interest in great Brazialian guitar music.

Antonio Meneses & André Mehmari
60 40

By João Marcos Coelho, Especial para o Estado
O escritor cubano Alejo Carpentier, frequentador assíduo das feijoadas semanais no apartamento parisiense de Villa-Lobos na Place St. Michel nos anos 1920, definiu com precisão a natureza da música de seu amigo brasileiro: “Villa-Lobos pensa como palmeira, sem sonhar com pinheiros nórdicos”. E adverte: “Repetimo-nos il pleut dans mon coeur, como o suave poeta, para enganar o incêndio tropical que temos dentro de nós”.
O mágico encontro entre o pianista, compositor e arranjador niteroiense criado em Ribeirão Preto André Mehmari, 40 anos, e o violoncelista pernambucano Antonio Meneses, 60 anos, criado no Rio e hoje um dos grandes músicos clássicos do mundo, assume esse “incêndio tropical” que está no nosso DNA.
São dois músicos extraordinários que comemoram dois aniversários redondos em 2017 - André seus 40 anos, Antonio seus 60 - oferecendo-nos esse CD AM60 AM40, que será lançado pelo Selo Sesc em agosto em apresentações em Ribeirão Preto (dia 17, no Teatro Municipal) e São Paulo (de 18 a 20 no Sesc Vila Mariana).
André assina duas transcrições de Bach e durante as 15 faixas jura que segue a partitura, mas com direito “a ornamentações dentro do estilo!”, esclarece. Suas trajetórias se cruzam em momentos distintos: Antonio, depois de consolidar-se como grande violoncelista clássico na Europa, tem-se voltado para as raízes brasileiras na última década; André vive seu momento mais notável: consolida-se como compositor sinfônico e está cada vez mais fulgurante como pianista improvisador. Grava muito em seu estúdio Monteverdi, na serra da Cantareira, em São Paulo (só este ano já lançou Dorival, em que toca Caymmi em quarteto com Proveta; este AM60 AM40; e Suíte Policarpo, que lança em recital na Flip).
O CD começa e termina com Bach e duas de suas mais conhecidas melodias: o Arioso da cantata BWV 156 e a ária da quarta corda, da suíte para orquestra n.º 3 BWV 1068. Entre um e outra, passeiam por Tom Jobim (antológica performance de Sem Você) e peças mais encorpadas de dois argentinos: a Pampeana n.º 2 de Ginastera; e o Gran Tango, de Piazzolla, dedicado a Rostropovich.
Mehmari é camerístico por natureza. Cresce assustadoramente nesses encontros - como se fosse possível determinar onde é mais superlativo, já que também no piano solo sua arte é hoje magistral. A pimenta do improviso faz a magia do duo, diz ao Estado: “Talvez eu tenha trazido elementos bastante novos para ele, principalmente o fato de eu nunca tocar a mesma peça duas vezes do mesmo jeito. Isso tem a ver com minha natureza de improvisador, algo quase extinto há muito tempo no território da música de concerto”. De seu lado, Antonio diz: “Cantar para mim é a forma máxima da música. Eu sempre tive o sonho de cantar com o violoncelo esse tipo de música”.
O momento mágico desse encontro de gigantes é a Suíte Brasileira, que Antonio encomendou a André. Em 5 movimentos e 15 minutos, leva-nos a uma viagem pelo “incêndio tropical” que temos todos dentro de nós.
O Prelúdio tem centelha e pegada dos célebres prelúdios das suítes para violoncelo de Bach. Ao mesmo tempo, as harmonias virtuais soam monumentais no violoncelo de Antonio, construído pelo lutiê italiano Filippo Fasser, em 2013. André capta, em arpejos e melodias em notas duplas, todas as possibilidades expressivas desse instrumento tão excepcional quanto o músico que o pilota.
O choro-canção é uma das mais belas melodias que André já criou. Mais que villa-lobiana, tem cheiro das rodas de choro dos anos 1910 no Rio de Janeiro. Brasileiríssimo.
O frevo frenético remete às raízes de Antonio e a valsa ao maravilhoso universo dos pianeiros que, desde o final do século 19 e ao longo da primeira metade do século 20 transportaram e reinventaram esse gênero tão vienense às nossas esquinas (impossível não lembrar as valsas de esquina de Mignone, anfíbio genial conhecido nas rodas populares como Chico Bororó). Um sacudido baião encerra em clima de arrasta-pé essa linda Suíte Brasileira, buquê que André Mehmari oferece a Antonio Meneses em seus 60 anos.

Paolo Fresu & Omar Sosa

By Andrew Cartmel
The striking immediacy of the trumpet and flugelhorn playing of Sardinian master Paolo Fresu shows the profound influence of Miles Davis combined with Mediterranean lyricism. His list of associates include Carla Bley, Piero Umiliani, Ralph Towner, and Sheila Jordan. His latest project is a collaboration with pianist Omar Sosa. Cuban-born Sosa relocated to San Francisco and then Barcelona, and has played with the likes of Paquito D’Rivera, John Santos and Trilok Gurtu. Also on board for this CD are the Brazilian cellist Jaques Morelenbaum and Egyptian-Belgian singer Natacha Atlas.
The album opens with a cover version of Massive Attack’s anthem Teardrop. It is slowed down, blissed-out and reconceived as a piece of minimalist and dismantled electronica, with Sosa using electric keyboards, samplers and effects. And Natacha Atlas sings the lyrics in Arabic. The effect is even more hypnotic than the original, and it has the keen advantage of Fresu’s clean, piercing trumpet to guide and emphasise the piece. Sensuousness features a credible replica of Tuvan throat singing and a melancholy exploration of its theme by Fresu.
Zeus’ Desires has a bouncing beat, with blossoming, rolling Fender Rhodes, set against the more angular gradient of the violins — Anton Berovski and Sonia Peana of the Quartetto Alborada. The string quartet continue to enthral on Brezza del Verano, also featuring Nico Ciricugno on viola and Piero Savatori on cello. Omar Sosa scatters notes across the piece but it’s Fresu who keeps moving it forward with his plangent, reverberant, pre-electric Miles style playing. My Soul, My Spirit features Atlas again and is like a secular call to worship, her voice being gently lowered on a cushion created by the string section. La Llamada (‘The Call’) is a slow-paced, pulsing piece shaped by Sosa’s keyboards and effects, with Fresu playing a dreamlike horn, and succinct, otherworldly interjections in the form of sighing, slanting phrases from the strings. What Is Inside / Himeros begins in the same dreamy, delicate vein, but Sosa builds a fierce, echoing pulse, with fleeting telegraph-key Morse-code taps on the keyboards, building up the feeling of electric-era Miles, not least in Fresu’s performance. In the measured, ambient landscape of Who Wu, with Sosa keeping a tic-tac suggestion of a military drum, Fresu comes and goes in a manner reminiscent of summer lightning before the thunder hits, while the sudden jagged violin is like a can opener lifting the lid on your mind. Why is notable for jovial, lyrical sawing strains on the cello by Jaques Morelenbaum.
Forsaking a conventional rhythm section, this is an unusual and curiously effective group, with a distinctive 21st Century sound that creates a uniform mood without repeating itself or losing the interest of the listener. It has a silky surface which makes for “easy” listening, but also a complexity and depth which repays attention. And, incidentally, when the CD appears to be isn’t. After a minute or two of silence there is an extended “ghost track” which features some great playing.
Track Listing: 
Teardrop - Ya Habibi; Sensuousness; Zeus' Desires; Brezza Del Verano; My Soul, My Spirit; La Llamada; What Is Inside; Himeros; Who Wu; Eros Mediterraneo; Fradelo; What Lies Ahead; Why.
Paolo Fresu: trumpet, flugelhorn, multi-effects, percussion; Omar Sosa: acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, MicroKORG, samplers, multi-effects, percussion, vocals, programming; Natacha Atlas: vocals; Jaques Morelenbaum: cello; Quartetto Alborado - Anton Berovski: violin; Sonia Peana: violin; Nico Ciricugno: viola; Piero Salvatori: cello.

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