Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Jon Hassell ‎– Fascinoma (1999)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Water Lily Acoustic

01.   Nature Boy
02.   Datura
03.   Caravanesque
04.   Wide Sky
05.   Mevlana Duke
06.   Secretly Happy
07.   Poinciana
08.   Sensuendo
09.   Suite De Caravan
10.   Estaté (Summer)

Tambura – Rick Masterson, Rose Okada
Bansuri – Ronu Majumdar 
Electronic Drums – Jamie Muhoberac  
Guitar, Bass Clarinet, Sampler – Rick Cox
Piano – Jacky Terrasson 
Drums – Joachim Cooder
Trumpet, Liner Notes – Jon Hassell
Guitar, Produced By – Ry Cooder

"With this record, I locate myself squarely within that aspect of music which is fundamental and irreducible: the beauty of the sound," states Jon Hassell in the liner notes for Fascinoma. Hassell, of course, has spent his career emphasizing the beauty of sound and how recordings capture that better than any other medium. The difference is, with Fascinoma, he weaves unique interpretations of standards like "Nature Boy" and "Caravan" into his own sonic tapestry. Hassell has intended the album as a tribute to the "musical exotica" he heard as a child "on the radio or in movie scores," and his statement unlocks many doors to his music. Echoes of early exotica and evocative jazz can be heard throughout the album, but Hassell pieces it together in an odd, original fashion. Since the record is so quiet, some listeners may dismiss it as mere mood music. This is a valid point; the album creates its own unique, wide open aural vistas. But listen closer and there's some truly startling interplay and ideas, not only from Hassell but from his supporting musicians (who include Ry Cooder and Jacky Terrasson). At times, the gauzy recording can be a little impenetrable, as can the challenging minimalism of the compositions and arrangements themselves. But if the music intrigues you, it's hard not to get swept up in it.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine / AllMusic

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Neil Ardley ‎– Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows (1976)

Style: Jazz-Funk, Contemporary Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Gull, Line Records

1.   Prologue
2.   Rainbow 1
3.   Rainbow 2
4.   Rainbow 3
5.   Rainbow 4
6.   Rainbow 5
7.   Rainbow 6
8.   Rainbow 7
9.   Epilogue

Bass – Roger Sutton
Conductor, Synthesizer – Neil Ardley
Drums – Roger Sellers
Engineer – Martin Levan
Guitar – Ken Shaw
Percussion, Vibraphone – Trevor Tomkins
Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet – Tony Coe
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Ian Carr
Acoustic Cello, Electric Cello – Paul Buckmaster
Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Dave MacRae, Geoff Castle
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Barbara Thompson, Bob Bertles
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Alto Flute – Brian Smith
Producer – Paul Buckmaster

Neil Ardley (director, synthesiser), Bob Bertles (alt, sop, flt), Paul Buckmaster ( acoustic & electric cello), Ian Carr (tpt ,flh), Geoff Castle (elec' pno, synth), Tony Coe (tnr, clt, bs clt), Dave Macrae (elec' pno, synth), Roger Sellers (drs), Ken Shaw (gtr), Brian Smith (ten, sop, flt, alt flt), Roger Sutton (bs gtr, bs), Barbara Thompson (alt, sop, flt), Trevor Tomkins (perc', vbs), Stan Sulzman (alt, sop, flt) John Taylor ( elc pno).

1) Prologue/Rainbow One ( Soloists, Ian Carr & Brian Smith) 10m 26s, 2) Rainbow Two (Soloists, Dave Macrae & Geoff Castle) 7m 34s 3) Rainbow Three ( Soloist, Paul Buckmaster) 3m 28s 4) Rainbow Four ( Soloist, Barbara Thompson) 6m 15s 5) Rainbow 5 (Soloist, Tony Coe) 4m 25s 6) Rainbow 6 (Soloists, Ken Shaw & Bob Bertles) 7m 39s 7) Epilogue/Rainbow 7 14m 56s.

 Born in 1937, Neil Ardley himself was a man of many talents, and not confined to jazz. Gaining a BSC from Bristol University he went on to write over one hundred books on science and technology, was on the staff of the World Book Enclopedia for a time and wrote children's books for Hamlyn. His total book sales topped ten million, including his three million best seller The Way Things Work. He also found time to sing in a number of choirs and compose choral works. His early jazz life included a spell as pianist with The John Williams Big Band and the study of writing and arranging under Ray Premru and Bill Russo. He became director of the highly acclaimed New Jazz Orchestra and went on to release nine albums as a leader between 1965 and 2001. He passed away on 23rd April 2004 aged 66.

Recorded at The Morgan Studios in London, this album has for many decades been described as one of the very best in jazz recorded by British musicians. It featured at number 22 in the New Musical Express annual chart of top albums of any genre in its year of release. Two years later in 1978 there was a follow up release by the band entitled Harmony Of The Spheres which included vocalist Norma Winstone. Everything about "Kaleidoscope" is well structured but with plenty of space for the soloists to express themselves. This is evident right from the ensemble based prologue with its cosmic like opening guitar passage and growing intensity that eventually morphs into Rainbow One which features a bright and lively solo from Ian Carr before finally finding calmer waters in the closing bars of Brian Smith's soprano.
Quickly switching to a ballad like mode, Rainbow Two suggests a gentle breeze personified in the twin keyboard sounds of Dave Macrae and Geoff Castle with the bass clarinet of Tony Coe riding sonorously across the soundscape. Admired by Miles Davis, when they collaborated for a time, Paul Buckmaster is one of a very small number of musicians with the ability to bring the cello to jazz with any conviction. In the joyful Rainbow Three utilising both the acoustic and electric instruments over a rock like back beat. The pure class of Barbara Thompsons alto and shimmering soprano sound are evident on the fourth rainbow of the sequence, alongside another fine solo from Ian Carr, who seemed to be on top form throughout. There is urgency in the air as Tony Coe holds sway on both the standard and bass clarinets during number five over a drumming master class from Roger Sellers on Rainbow Five which also highlights the leaders fine arranging skills that were evident across the whole set. It's a serene panorama of the skies for the sixth rainbow, with Ken Shaws subdued but magnificent guitar performance painting a vivid musical view, more akin to the whole universe rather than just a single rainbow. This one really draws the listener in and is perhaps the album highlight. The final Rainbow Seven and the Epilogue are presented as one complete track of almost fifteen minutes. There is more of an orchestral feel to this, the soloists only emerging briefly from the ensemble. It really epitomises the word kaleidoscope on its own and could easily stand alone as an example of the most creative jazz writing and arranging of the time. Although things have moved on somewhat in the world of jazz composition for large ensembles, this work is most certainly deserving of its elevated status, forty four years after the original recording date.
Jim Burlong / Jazz Views

Saturday, 19 June 2021

Ian Carr ‎– Belladonna (1972)

Style: Fusion, Jazz-Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Vertigo, Mr Bongo

1.   Belladonna
2.   Summer Rain
3.   Remadione
4.   Mayday
5.   Suspension
6.   Hector's House

Bass – Roy Babbington
Drums – Clive Thacker
Electric Piano – Dave MacRae, Gordon Beck
Guitar – Allan Holdsworth
Percussion – Trevor Tomkins
Saxophone, Flute – Brian Smith
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Ian Carr
Producer – Jon Hiseman

Today's Rediscovery? British trumpeter Ian Carr's Belladonna, a gem of an album that's also the coming out party for soon-to-be-legendary guitarist Allan Holdsworth.

A album I'd not heard in the decade since I wrote the retrospective Ian Carr And Nucleus: '70s British Jazz Rock Progenitors for All About Jazz in the fall of 2004, listening to it again after all these years brought back all the reasons why it's been one of my favorite recordings in the late British trumpeter's catalog.

By the time Belladonna was released in 1972, after three albums recorded with his flagship Nucleus band—1970's Elastic Rock and We'll Talk About It Later, and the expanded lineup of 1971's Solar Plexus, all on Vortex—the band that Carr had brought together had all but completely fallen apart. Gone were founding members pianist/reed multi-instrumentalist Karl Jenkins and drummer John Marshall for greater fame in the increasingly jazz fusion-centric Soft Machine, bassist Jeff Clyne for the similarly inclined Isotope, and guitarist Chris Spedding for session work and his own solo career.

Financial difficulties were another factor at the root of Nucleus' dissolution, but Carr somehow found a way to get into the recording studio with the last remaining Nucleus member, reed and woodwind player Brian Smith, along with pianist David Macrae—who briefly replaced David Sinclair in Matching Mole, the group formed by ex-Soft Machine's drummer/founding member Robert Wyatt before it, too, disbanded in 1972 after the release of Little Red Record (Columbia)—soon-to-join Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington, frequent Brian Auger collaborator, drummer Clive Thacker, and two significant guests: pianist Gordon Beck and drummer Trevor Tomkins, here contributing solely percussion.

Belladonna would turn out to be a turning point for Carr; featuring more atmospheric excursions like the opening title track, where Macrae's Fender Rhodes and Beck's Wurlitzer combined to create an ethereal underpinning for the emergence of Babbington's relaxed but relentless, repetitive bass line—a signature skill for the bassist that made him a British alternative to Miles Davis' bassist at the time, Michael Henderson. While the early Nucleus records were great, with Belladonna Carr seemed to finally "get" the fusion of jazz with rock, the blending of the two more seamless and natural than what came before. His own playing was as strong as ever, whether with a open bell or a Harmon mute, and Carr's playing had reached a new level of confidence and strength.

But the reason why Belladonna stands out in Carr's discography is the participation of a 26 year-old guitarist whose only previous recorded appearance was with English progressive rockers 'Igginsbottom and its sole release, 1969's 'Igginsbottom's Wrench. The approach to harmony and a legato playing that would define the guitarist for decades to come was still in its early stages, and he'd yet to find the tone he was looking for, but on the strength of just two solos—the Phrygian "Remadione" and, in particular, his absolutely incendiary solo that concludes the fiery album closer "Hector's House"—Holdsworth elevated a good album to not just a great one, but an important one, Clean toned, his lightning speed and unusual approach to creating cascading lines made clear that this was a guitarist to watch, even as, throughout the rest of the record his accompaniment support is, indeed, pretty pedestrian...even resorting to some Shaft-like wah wah-driven chunky chords on "Mayday," a tune that, with its hi-hat-driven pulse, seems clearly informed by Miles Davis' seminal 1969 album, In a Silent Way (Columbia).

Within five years Holdsworth would be world famous, playing with everyone from Soft Machine and the New Tony Williams Lifetime to Gong (see the Rediscovery column about that group's Gazeuse!), Jean-Luc Ponty and Bill Bruford—both in the drummer's own group and together with him in the progressive rock supergroup, UK. But it all started here, with Belladonna and two solos totalling no more than three or four minutes, but enough to truly shake the music world and lead to a career that has influenced multiple generations of guitarists, from Eddie Van Halen to Scott Henderson and Alex Machacek.
John Kelman / All About Jazz

Monday, 7 June 2021

Trupe Chá De Boldo ‎– Presente (2015)

Style: Psychedelic Rock, Indie Pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Not On Label

01.   Jovem-Tirano-Príncipe-Besta
02.   Meu Tesão É Outro
03.   Diacho
04.   O Fim É Só O Começo (Coração)
05.   Smex Smov
06.   Fogo Fogo
07.   Cine Espacial
08.   Lampejo
09.   Moremáximo
10.   Amores Vão
11.   O Fim É Só O Começo
12.   Aos Meus Amigos
13.   Uma Banda

Tenor Saxophone – Mumu
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Remi Chatain
Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Cuca Ferreira
Electric Bass – Felipe Botelho
Electric Guitar – Gustavo Cabelo, Tomás Bastos
Drums, Drum Programming – Pedro Gongom
Percussion – Guto Nogueira, Rafinha Werblowsky
Producer – Gustavo Ruiz

Independente do conservadorismo do consumidor, cada vez mais adepto da redundância da vez, e conformismo da imensa maioria das bandas, e vocalistas, de pop/rock no Brasil, aqui, ali, há invenções, reinvenções e espírito de aventura. Não por acaso, boa parte dos artistas que seguem esta trilha, caminho inverso do fácil, está em São Paulo, em nomes como Tatá Aeroplano, Filarmônica de Pasárgada, e a Trupe Chá de Boldo. Este último acaba de lançar o terceiro álbum, Presente (Pommelo), disponível para download no site do grupo. A policromia sonora reflete a torre de Babel caótica que é a maior cidade da América do Sul. A Trupe Chá de Boldo vai de tudo: música paraense, rock, samba e o que mais possa se pensar. É óbvia a influência tropicalista ao estilo Tom Zé, de quem a Trupe é parceira (palpável na faixa Smex smov). Jovem-tirano-príncipe-besta, que abre o disco, é um rock lento, que segue aparentemente convencional, entram sopros e metais, acelera-se o andamento, e música acaba bruscamente. Ecos da Vanguarda Paulistana, em Meu tesão é outro, Arrigo Barnabé e Frank Zappa, com sotaque paulistano. O carimbó Diacho não é carona no suingue alheio, a levada é um meio para um fim, a ironia e o escracho. Claro, assim como na capa do disco, há dadaísmo em excesso, às vezes, letra e interpretação são engraçadinhas em demasia. Mas Presente, assim como Bárbaro (2010), e Nave manha (2012), é instigante. Não deixa o distinto ouvinte passivo. Reage-se de alguma forma à música da Trupe, contra, ou a favor. Não dá para ficar impassível ouvindo o grupo, que tem em Gustavo Galo, o principal compositor do grupo. Ou melhor, do coletivo, já que além dos integrantes, mais ou menos fixos, tem participações de músicos que se identificam com a mesma inquietação estética, Tatá Aeroplano, Iara Rennó, Marcelo Segreto (Filarmônica de Pasárgada). A produção é de Gustavo Ruiz, outro da turma. “Uma banda grande é demais/não cabe no elevador/não cabe no camarim/não cabe no estúdio/não cabe nos Jardins”, versos de Uma banda, que fecha o disco. Talvez a banda seja grande demais, certamente não cabe na mesmice quase generalizada da nova MPB, mas é de muito bom tamanho para mexer com o coro dos contentes.
José Teles / JC 

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Asha Puthli ‎– Asha Puthli (1973)

Genre: Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mr Bongo, CBS

1.   Right Down Here
2.   Neither One Of Us Wants To Be The First To Say Goodby
3.   I Dig Love
4.   This Is Your Life
5.   Love
6.   Lies
7.   Let Me In Your Life
8.   I Am A Song (Sing Me)
9.   Truth

Arranged By, Producer – Del Newman

The debut long-player by Indian-born and Euro-bred soul singer Asha Puthli is a wild mix of electric, funky grooves and mystic spaceship R&B. Puthli, who contributed vocals to Ornette Coleman's Skies of America album, and Columbia tried to establish herself as an international pop star with this album. Utilizing her wide range and weird voice and an even stranger choice of material, Puthli came off as some soul singer turned sexy jazz maven who was beating a slick path to the dancefloor with sensibility not unlike Donna Summer's a few years later. This isn't so odd in and of itself, but when you consider her song choices: George Harrison's "I Dig Love," J.J. Cale's "Right Down Here" and "Lies," Jimmy Webb's "This Is Your Life," and Jim Weatherly's "Neither One Of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye," among others, and arrangements and backing that don't even closely resemble the originals, you have one very strange album. The best track is "Lies," which is full of screaming, wailing, yelling, and completely freakazoid echo, compression, and phase shifter effects -- before Giorgio Moroder made them standard on every record. Puthli's jazzed-up rendition of Neil Sedaka's "I Am a Song" that steams over into an anthemic disco romp is a riot. This may be an album of its time, but Puthli is an original as a singer. She's a stylist at the very least, and, at most, a campy genius.
Thom Jurek / AllMusic

Friday, 4 June 2021

Sean Riley & The Slowriders ‎– Life (2021)

Style: Indie Rock
Format: Vinyl
Label: Sony Music

01.   Every Time
02.   Hide
03.   Never Lonely
04.   Love Life
05.   Baby Girl
06.   DiCaprio From Russia
07.   Six Years Later
08.  Looking For Me
09.  Roachie
10.  Last One

Mastered By – Miguel Pinheiro Marques
Mixed By – Makoto Yagyu
Producer – Makoto Yagyu, Sean Riley & The Slowriders
Recorder – Makoto Yagyu, Pedro Ferreira

O quarto álbum de originais da banda deveria ter sido editado no ano passado – o primeiro single “Everytime” foi divulgado logo no início de 2020 -, mas a vida e uma pandemia meteram-se no caminho e alteraram-lhes os planos.

“Após lançarmos o primeiro single percebemos que não era muito favorável lançar um disco nesse contexto e acabámos por adiar para este ano. As coisas ainda não estão tão boas, mas sentimos que, por termos o disco pronto, e haver um intervalo grande desde o último lançamento, não faz sentido esperarmos mais”, disse o vocalista dos Sean Riley & The Slowriders, Afonso Rodrigues, em entrevista à Lusa.

O terceiro álbum do grupo, homónimo, data de 2016, ano que fica marcado na história da banda pelo desaparecimento de um dos seus fundadores, Bruno Simões.

Numa banda que começou a três (Afonso Rodrigues, Bruno Simões e Filipe Costa), o desaparecimento de um dos elementos provoca forçosamente mudanças.

Afonso Rodrigues partilhou como o que aconteceu há cinco anos foi para banda uma “situação muito difícil de lidar e provavelmente impossível de ultrapassar”, mas o facto de se terem uns aos outros e o “grande amor pela música” funcionaram como “tábua de salvação”.

Filipe Costa recordou que, “desde o primeiro ensaio a três, a própria dinâmica criativa [da banda] era de muita experimentação em cima das canções do Afonso, e de cada um trazer para os seus instrumentos abordagens diferentes, bagagens diferentes, propostas diferentes”.

A dada altura, a banda de três passou a quatro, com a entrada de Filipe Rocha, e em “Life” juntou-se um novo elemento, Nuno Filipe, “uma pessoa que faz parte da casa, da família, que já tinha sido ‘road manager’ da banda”.

Foi Nuno Filipe quem substituiu Bruno Simões em 2016, quando o grupo decidiu tocar o terceiro disco ao vivo. Foi “a primeira e a única pessoa” com quem consideravam fazê-lo, e “Life” o primeiro trabalho em que Nuno Filipe fez parte do processo de composição.

“Houve muita coisa feita na sala de ensaios, houve outras que eram composições trazidas pelo Afonso, houve coisas que aconteceram já em estúdio, nessa lógica de experimentação, de abertura e de viagem a ver onde é que a estrada acaba”, contou Filipe Costa.

A ‘viagem’ que levou a “Life” começou em 2018, altura em que Afonso e Filipe Costa trocaram “centenas de canções” para tentarem perceber o que queriam fazer.

“E uma das coisas que queríamos muito fazer, talvez pelo sítio onde nos encontrávamos emocionalmente, era tentar contrapor isso com um disco que fosse mais luminoso e menos dramático. A nossa música tinha tendência a ter uma carga muito dramática, muitas dinâmicas, muitas intensidades, então queríamos aligeirar um pouco a coisa”, recordou.

Mas a vida voltou a intrometer-se nos planos da banda e no primeiro dia de 2020, “ano de trabalho no disco”, Afonso cortou um dedo.

“Fiz um golpe muito fundo numa articulação e de cada vez que tentava tocar guitarra o golpe abria. Durante meses fiquei sem conseguir tocar, o que fez com que chegássemos à sala de ensaios e começássemos a trabalhar em canções sem a utilização da guitarra, e isto acabou por mudar dramaticamente a direção artística que tínhamos para o disco, porque de repente encontrámos verdadeiramente algo que nos estava a entusiasmar, que nos estava a soar a novo, a fresco e abordámos esse caminho e explorámo-lo da forma que melhor conseguimos”, relatou.

Quando isso aconteceu, “Everytime”, tema ao qual já tinham decidido tirar as guitarras, já estava pronto, por isso Afonso admite que “eventualmente” o resultado final do álbum seria o mesmo, “mas acabou por ser a vida e a forma como ela acontece a definir o que acabaria por acontecer”.

O dedo cortado de Afonso não foi, porém, o único ‘culpado’: “há outra pessoa muito importante no caminho que este disco seguiu que é o Makoto Yagyu [músico dos PAUS e Riding Pânico], produtor do disco, connosco”, referiu Filipe Costa.

“Se já temos no nosso ADN essa abertura à experimentação, a colocarmos desafios e rasteiras a nós próprios, o Makoto encarou o disco como encara a música e o trabalho dele como produtor: ir à procura também, em termos sónicos, de arranjos”, referiu.

Além de ser o primeiro álbum sem um dos elementos fundadores e de ser aquele em que as guitarras têm menos predominância, “Life” fica igualmente na história da banda como o disco em há um tema cantado por alguém que não Afonso Rodrigues.

“Não sabemos nunca se vai haver mais um disco e achei que era essencial na história de Slowriders que aparecesse uma música cantada pelo Filipe [Costa] e este seria o disco em que tínhamos que o fazer”, disse Afonso Rodrigues.

O músico lembra que Filipe Costa “sempre escreveu música, mas acabou por nunca dar o passo e investir nessa escrita, materializar essas canções”.

“Há um par de anos, num concerto, ele estava a tocar esta música [“Last One”, que encerra o álbum] num ensaio, e aquilo não me saiu da cabeça”, recordou.

Os dois admitem que “Life” é um trabalho que “em tudo” os fez “olhar ainda mais para dentro”. “Para a nossa história, para as nossas vidas, o que as nossas vidas se alteraram nos últimos anos, desde que começámos a fazer música juntos, principalmente eu e o Filipe que estamos nisto desde o início”, referiu Afonso Rodrigues.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble ‎– Now (2021)

Style: Hip Hop, Jazz, No Wave, Experimental
Format: CD, Vinyl, FLAC
Label: International Anthem Recording Company

1.   Now (Forever Momentary Space)
2.   The People Vs. The Rest Of Us
3.   Keep Your Mind Free
4.   Barbara Jones-Hogu And Elizabeth Catlett Discuss Liberation
5.   Movement And You
6.   The Body Is Electric

Drums – Dana Hall
Percussion – Arif Smith
Clarinet – Angel Bat Dawid
Cornet, Melodica – Ben LaMar Gay
Lyrics By, Composed By, Artwork, Electronics, Sampler – Damon Locksy
Vocals – Eric Tre'von, Erica Rene, Monique Golding, Phillip Armstrong, Richie Parks, Tramaine Parker

Chicago-based collective Black Monument Ensemble's sophomore album was recorded in September 2020 at the intersection of various existential crises, as seen from a US perspective: the threat of Trump winning the presidential election, by fair means or foul; the rising tide of fascist ideology; extrajudicial murders of, in particular but not exclusively, black Americans; a galloping pandemic; economic chaos; and social isolation.

Given the circumstances, it is no surprise that Now sounds apocalyptic. But it is also simultaneously bursting with hope for the future. BME's organizer and composer, the poet and electronist Damon Locks' description of the album reads, in part, as follows: "This is a document of the moment... As the old world falls, we lose a lot but we gain the opportunity to create anew... We can spark something now. The new is possible."

At the time of writing, six months after Now was recorded, there are signs of hope: above all, the restoration of reason and evidence-based decision making to the US presidency, and the proven efficacy of vaccines to fight the pandemic. But Locks and the other members of BME would not suggest that these two things are guarantees of a sunnier, more harmonious future. And nor are they. The real power to heal division and effect change rests, as always, with the people. What the album is saying in essence is: time to put your shoulder and your love to the wheel, for the struggle is only now beginning and a happy ending is still far from certain.

Musically, Now is a mix of spoken word, jazz, gospel and other retained Africanisms. The instrumental lineup—sampler and electronicist Locks, clarinetist Angel Bat Dawid, cornetist Ben LaMar Gay, drummer Dana Hall, percussionist Arif Smith—work hand in hand with a six-piece vocal chorus. The feel is that of a live prayer-meets-politics meeting. Which is indeed what the production process was: the album was recorded live and socially distanced over two days in the garden behind Chicago's Experimental Sound Studio. Playing time is short as albums go, just over thirty minutes. But listening is a case of feel the vibe not the width (and fear not, track four, "Barbara Jones-Hogu And Elizabeth Catlett Discuss Liberation," is not a dry academic debate but 1:55 minutes of mantra-like, sung positivity). The overall experience is restorative and uplifting—and the message is a universal one, applicable wherever you reside.
Chris May / All About Jazz

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Lucas Santtana E Seleção Natural ‎– 3 Sessions In A Greenhouse (2021 Remaster) (2021)

Style: Dub, MPB, Experimental
Format: Vinyl, FLAC
Label: Mais Um Disco

1.   Awô Dub
2.   Tijolo a Tijolo, Dinheiro a Dinheiro
3.   Pela Orla Dos Velhos Tempos
4.   Lycra-Limão
5.   Deixe O Sol Bater
6.   Ogodô Ano 2000 (Feat. – Tom Zé)
7.   A Natureza Espera
8.   Into Shade
9.   Faixa Amarela

Drums – Giló
Flugelhorn, Trumpet – Leandro Joaquim
Guitar – Bruno Levi
Bass, Keiborad – Ricardinho
Percussion – Léo Leobons, Léosinho
Synthesizer – David Cole
Trombone – Mauricio Zacharias
Vocals, Cavaquinho, Guitar – Lucas Santtana

Experimenting is part of Lucas Santtana‘s artistic milieu. After listening to his discography, you conclude that none of his projects follow a specific pattern. They do not fit into the structures predetermined by the music industry in this digital age, which in one way or another oblige the artist to label his music in order to enter playlists or be placed on some virtual shelf. The musician from Salvador, Bahia, manages to mix different rhythms from Brazil and the world in one song. This diversity reveals his constant search for new possibilities. A good example of this constant experimentation is his third album, 3 Sessions in a Greenhouse, which was originally released in 2006, but has now been remastered and reissued by Mais Um.

“At the beginning of my career, I was experimenting, trying to figure out my sound. On 3 Sessions In A Greenhouse, I discovered what I am and what I wanted to do in music. All the pieces connected. Everything just felt like the right place at the right time.”, says Santtana.

As the title suggests, the songs were recorded in three live sessions, as if playing a live show at the AR studio, in Rio de Janeiro. The whole musical entourage were always in touch to keep the jams hot – as there was no possibility of repetition. “We would work from 10am to 8-9pm, playing all day”, remembers Santtana. “Time did not exist. No telephones. Smoking the best weed in Rio, it was like a greenhouse. We had the feeling, we were creating a new sound.”. Musicians included his Seleção Natural band, featuring Gil on drums, David Cole on effects, Ricardinho on bass, Leandro Joaquim on trumpet and fluguelhorn, Maurício Zacharias on trombone and Bruno Levi on guitar as well as the Onilu trio comprising of Leo Leobons, João Gabriel and Leo Saad on percussion.

Creating this work in the mid-2000s shows that Santtana was well ahead of his time. The fact is, even today it sounds modern. Obviously, Stefan Betke / Pole’s remastering was essential to make the dub aesthetic more intense than it was 15 years ago, taking it to another level. The reverbs are now boosted, giving a certain degree of dirt (or distortions) in the textures, marking it at the ideal level to touch the walls of the sound system. Some elements have also gained more prominence, such as the brass and percussion of “Awo Dub”. Ultimately, everything is more vibrant, very close to what was produced in the 1970s.

“It was really important to have Stefan (Pole) remaster 3 Sessions.“, says Santtana. “He brought a lot more punch to the original recordings. He also brought a lot of ambience as well. I really see this as a new version of the album. It’s not just a re-release. It’s bringing something new to the sound, the versions, the mix. This is what the album is all about.”.

Compared to the 2006 edition, the atmosphere is different. The differences are not marked, but they completely transform the unlikely, but assertive, psychedelic variations of samba, manguebeat, ijexá and baile funk. Despite having only nine tracks, 3 Sessions has exactly 51 minutes. It is very well organized. The structure was designed so that the listener does not skip any tracks. It makes no mistakes in achieving that. Even so, some songs grab the attention more than others. This is the case of “Tijolo a Tijolo, Dinheiro a Dinheiro”, which has all the ginga (groove) of Rio de Janeiro’s rodas de samba (partido de alto) and swing to stop anybody from standing still. “Pela Orla dos Velhos Tempos” is tempered by funk carioca from the 90s, this one with a lot of influence from Miami Bass in the 808 beats. The highlight is the partnership with Tom Zé on the samba-rock (a mix of rockabilly and samba, which became popular in São Paulo nightclubs in the 1950s) version of “Agodô, Ano 2000”. The union of electronic effects with the cadence of the drums and percussive instruments, especially the agogô, is impeccable. Tom Zé’s scats also help give orderliness and energy to the classic. The reinterpretation of “Faixa Amarela”, written by samba singer Zeca Pagodinho, but known in Brazil through the voice of Martinho da Vila, is another highlight, a ska with small doses of dub and jazz, with a killer trumpet solo at the end.

In this current moment of humanity, where you cannot go to concerts, parties or dance clubs, Lucas Santtana is good company for breaking out of monotony and dancing indoors. When everything goes back to normal (if there will be a normal), the vinyl of 3 Sessions In A Greenhouse will certainly be present in the repertoire of several DJs in the world.
Adailton Moura / Sounds and Colours