March 4, 2020
El Contorno del Espacio
Fundacja Słucha FSR 12/2019
Jorge Nuno Connection
Creative Sources CS 591 CD
Little known in the wider world of exploratory music unless the musicians relocate to Europe or North America, a vibrant, but pocket-sized community of improvisers exists in South America. Following divergent musical currents with dissimilar personnel are combos from the continent’s largest cities showcased here. Buenos Aires’ SLD Trio, consisting of pianist Paula Shocron, bassist German Lamonega and drummer Pablo Diaz provides its version of the FreeJazz piano trio. Meanwhile São Paulo’s Jorge Nuno Connection extends its variations with detours into ethic and electronic impressions, with the band built around a core of Nuno’s guitar, Romulo Alexis’s trumpet, Victor Vieira-Branco’s vibraphone and Rafael Cab’s percussion. Nuno is actually Portuguese and has worked on film sound tracks and with players such as Frank Rosaly and Hernani Faustino. The others, all Brazilian, are involved in multimedia projects and other forms of music, but are members in good standing of São Paulo’s free improvisation and Free Jazz scenes.
As their title proposes, Shocron and Diaz, who have both recorded with Guillermo Gregorio and played with the likes of Ras Moshe and Daniel Carter, plus Lamonega who has backed Tony Malaby, add space and contours to the 10 tracks involved in this three-way interface. Quickly moving from pushing and pulling sparkling tremolo patterns, the three introduce shadings and timbral substitutions that invest tunes with harder, yet more emotional narratives. With the drummer concentrating on rubs and clattering vibrations and the bassist studied throbs, it’s the pianist who is most upfront in her sound transformations. Corralling the currents of regularized stop-and-start swing that have fascinations stylists from Lennie Tristano to Keith Jarrett, she eventually puts asides elegance and solid pacing for a dynamic enhancements in a Cecil Taylor vein.
“Trascender”, her own composition and Secreto 1” written by the bassist, amplify the atonal hints from earlier tunes with, especially n the first track, expressive emphasis that moves from the highest key pitches and moderated swirls to basso expression. Meantime Lamonega exposes spiccato bass lines and pointed string slashes as Diaz clamps, clatters and pops his drums beneath the others’ expressions. On “Secreto 1” the bassist turns his barely-there pulse into an infusion of wailing arco coloration as the pianist moves the piece forward with impressionistic sophistication.
Only “Caída Libre” the Diaz composition which ends the disc betrays any hint of a Latin tinge. But like the rest of the program, its performance eschews any token exoticism for sonic experimentation. Unlike some other tunes where atonality is expressed with motifs such as bass-string-whines, drum rolls and shudders and pointed keyboard clips and shakes, it emphasizes tripartite cooperation mixing toughness and swing.
Swing is at a premium on SaoPaulo though as droning processes that seem to involve the trumpet and guitar distort the few straightforward narrative flutters which advance the tracks. By “Eco-Conexao”, which like the four other tunes is a group improvisation, the music expands to bring in other currents. Alexis moves from crying infant and rooster crowing approximations on the trumpet to tonguing disconnected reed quivers which intersect with vibraphone crackles and cranks, sliding percussion pops and irregular guitar frails. The centerpiece of the disc is “Tiro-Viola”, which is nearly four times longer than the other tracks. Building up to a crescendo with group output so dense and opaque that individual textures find it almost impossible to breech it, the instant composition is first established with brass growls and toots seemingly escaping from a metal sheet pressed against the trumpet bell, on-off pressure from the guitarist, the hint of an electronic drone and associated patterning from vibes and drums. Quickly exploding the constructed calmness with an explosion of disconnected bagpipe-like bellows from Alexis, vibe decoration and aggressive drum raps contribute to the polyphonic mishmash. By mid-point even as a trumpet strategy attempts to re-establish a chromatic line, ruggedly stressed guitar fingering and slapping double bass sweeps create a climatic opaqueness, which only subsides into echoes and forward motion by the end.
All that can follow is more textural virtuosity displayed on the concluding “Pai-Mae” as Alexis’ waves of plunger tones expand and inflate while Nuno’s slurred fingering and single-string stabs do the same, while a carpet of timed patterns from Vieira-Branco’s thickened pings and Cab’s kettle-drum-like smacks and cymbal variations yoke the others to a satisfying finale.
If the turn of the century and afterwards marked the understanding that European free music has reached the same level expressed by improvisers from North America, perhaps the same situation is arising from South America. Certainly these discs are good arguments for that.
Track Listing: Contorno: 1. El Contorno Del Espacio 2. Jiwasa 3. Secreto 2 4. Secreto 3 5. Trascender 6. Secreto 1 7. Melancholia 8. Transformación 9. Maquina Verde 10. Caída Libre
Personnel: Contorno: Paula Shocron (piano, voice); German Lamonega (bass) and Pablo Diaz (drums)
Track Listing: SaoPaulo: 1. Deus-Fim 2. Raca-Morro 3. Eco-Conexao 4. Tiro-Viola
Personnel: SaoPaulo: Romulo Alexis (trumpet, hand-made reed instruments); Jorge Nuno (guitar); Victor Vieira-Branco (vibraphone) and Rafael Cab (drums)