Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dennis Gonzalez and Joao Paulo - Scapegrace (Clean Feed, 2009)

This was a very interesting duet collaboration between American trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and Portuguese pianist Joao Paulo Esteves da Silva. These two men were not that well versed in the others improvisational styles before they met in 2007 for a couple of warm up concerts and then this recording session. What resulted, however, is a wonderful example of what makes jazz so great - the men were able to find common ground in the music they shared and developed a classy and thoughtful musical conversation touching on modern jazz and free improvisation. The music on this album is nuanced and lyrical, building in a relaxed and subtle manner. "First Song" opens the album with music that is slowly emotional and probing with Gonzalez having a clear tone on the trumpet. "Anthem for the Moment" has the trumpet opening with a clarion call before the piano enters, first supporting and then engaging in conversation. Joao Paulo gets an appealing Keith Jarrett like feel to his piano playing. "Tolleymor" features a rapid piano introduction and strong punching trumpet in a medium up-tempo performance. "Broken Bop" is along the same lines with some string but still controlled free-er playing. "Scapegrace" is the centerpiece of the album, with percussive piano playing and strong trumpet evolving into a gentler almost elegiac section. "Duas Danças Arcaicas" is a ballad, with an elegant and observant texture, gentle like a tone painting of a peaceful sunrise. "Seixal Township" and "Última Canção" move into more abstract areas where the musicians focus on keeping the music spacious and spare and give things plenty of room to breathe. This was a very impressive album, the two musicians came in with open minds and no preconceived notions and worked together in a true collaboration to make music that was cooperative and profound.
Scapegrace (mp3 version) - amazon.com

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