Monday, July 11, 2022

Hugo Carvalhais - Ascetica (Clean Feed Records, 2022)

After a lengthy break from putting out music under his own name, bassist and composer Hugo Carvalhais returns to the fray with a wide ranging and colorful album. He doubles on electronics and his band mates are Emile Parisien on soprano saxophone, Liudas Mockunas on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Fábio Almeida 
on alto saxophone and flute, Gabriel Pinto on piano, organ and synthesizer and Mário Costa on drums. The music has a very interesting and varied sound, incorporating influences from jazz, contemporary classical and electronic music. The music is very creative with nice blending sounds for saxophone and swirling synthesizer, while deep bass and potent drumming ground the music, as splashes of colorful clarinet are added. Compositions evolve gradually and episodically, making the most of the reed instruments as well as beautiful and well rounded bass and drums. Acoustic piano adds lush near classical developments to solo introductions and statements. Yearning emotional saxophones, turn gritty and open building to harsh tones at times, then fall back, creating a lot of interesting dynamic tension. The rhythm section leads a more melodic assault, often opening up to synthesizer along side simmering bass and drums. Those synth tones locked in with bass and drums can be juxtaposed by piano which wells up even as the music develops floating sensations, where the clarinets can weave through with a wistful tone, and further horns are used as framing for the keyboards within. Clarinet and spare drums, create deep space, and the band is able to build impressionistic art music that is quiet and lonely in space in addition to that which has a more aggressive jazz attack. The music that Carvalhais and the band present covers a wide range of emotional content, developing a mysterious and enigmatic atmosphere that yields its secrets through repeated listening. Ascetica -

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