Tuesday, June 14, 2016

LUME - Xabregas 10 (Clean Feed, 2016)

In Portugal, Marco Barroso develops new musical systems and languages for the Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble. The band has six woodwinds, six brasses the leaders’ keyboard and electronics, bass and drums. “Astromassa” comes blasting out hard with horns and drums thrusting forward. There is massive propulsive riffing that is very exciting, like a soundtrack from a thrilling cinematic chase scene. The music then breaks out to quieter, dynamic loud/soft continuum, which is very intricate, chopping up and down, and then returning to the powerful themes. Tenor saxophone breaks free like a bird in flight to solo, flying lightly and unencumbered with a great aplomb, before choppy electronic manipulation builds and takes over, bringing us back to the all powerful horn section and heavy drums. Massive slabs of thrusting horns and percussion are savagely beautiful, before everything seems to come off the rails with crashes of electronics. Scattered electronic sampling and manipulating opens “Sandblast” before the band comes in playing hard modern jazz, kaleidoscopic in its swirling energy and edginess. There is a funky undertone to this performance with the band showing a lot of joyous energy. Trombone breaks out for a section against a very cool bass and drums rhythm, leaving an excellent mark with a memorable solo. The band comes back together for the nice groove the pick up again at a headlong pace, adding breaks every so often, including one for another fine tenor saxophone solo that juxtaposes its raw and rough tone against the party vibe of the rhythm and beat to great effect. “Polen” has subtle electronics in the beginning making for an eerie feel as electric bass and percussion build in and horns start to develop the structure. The band blooms quickly even in this relative darkness, contrasting flute against the ominous backdrop. The horns develop a strong and defiant riffing pattern and play for keeps, come what may. Swirling saxophones and horns develop a great fantasia of color buoyed by excellent electric bass and drumming. They turn up the volume and blast off into space a little past the halfway point, with elastic bass and strong drumming leading the charge into hyperspace. There is a great high-pitched trumpet solo just above the uproar of the full band which is making an incredibly powerful statement as a modern big band akin to the much-lamented Sam Rivers Rivbea Orchestra. The band absolutely swaggers out on “Lsw” with the horns probing, then wailing in a complex but enjoyable manner. The group bursts out with so much color and brings such joy to their music, that they are a blast to listen to, even when they start to get a little over the top. Sampled voices, dialogue, strings, everything but the kitchen sink are in play here. The band hits so unexpectedly hard at one point that it absolutely knocks you out of your chair, but their freeform blast works and is a riotous wave to ride (or be swept under.) Then they play several minutes of absolutely skull-crushing big band free jazz, a riotous maelstrom that finally stops on a dime to conclude. I adored this album, and this it is one of the finest that I have heard all year. The band is an absolute gas, there arrangements are colorful, the solos are exciting and the use of electronics and sampling is unexpected. But most of all, there is a sense of fun to the music, a feeling that the musicians love what they are doing and that they are giving everything of themselves to convey that to the listener. Fabregas 10 - amazon.com

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