Filipe Melo Trio
The Portuguese jazz scene has experienced an unprecedented high level of activity as of late. Both the number of musicians and the quality of their music has substantially risen, and jazz recordings have been reflecting that evolution. One of the most amazing aspects of the Portuguese market, which is still small, but ever expanding, is the variety of projects that are currently being worked on.
Debut appears in this context. Filipe Melo has chosen Bruno Santos and Bernardo Moreira to join him on this date. The group's formation has a very specific setting: piano, guitar and double bass: a choice that creates the mood of a chamber music ensemble. The drumless trio is the ultimate test for a group of this kind. By choosing two well-known musicians from the Portuguese jazz scene, Filipe Melo has put together a group with a strong personality. In fact, each of these three musicians leads his own projects. These musicians have also recorded their own albums.
The repertoire is varied and attractive: standards, Stevie Wonder, Clare Fischer, Bud Powell, Wes Montgomery, Quincy Jones, George Gershwin, and an original blues by the pianist. Without any prejudice, Filipe Melo, who is one of the few to master the references of that style, takes over the jazz universe that he loves. Yet, he displays a very distinctive personal mark in his phrasing, in the arrangements he writes, and in the group's own sound. A groups’s musical personality should not be imposed by exterior considerations; it should simply correspond to a genuine expressive impulse. So it is very important to have a great deal of conviction in order to sound musical and genuine. That is precisely the case with Filipe Melo. The many references to these kinds of groups do not frighten him. Debut is not the expression of a certain style, but of a pure and simple joy in music.
Although this record is a début, the album displays maturity, because it is concise, because of his control of dynamics and because of the clarity of the phrasing. In this context, the arrangements assume a crucial role. The overall quality of the performance relies on the freshness of the arrangements, thereby escaping predictable solutions such as theme-solos-theme.
This CD has many qualities: the expression and good taste of the reharmonizations, the quality of the voicings, and a very secure time feel. Some specific examples, the accuracy of the kicks, the excellent guitar-piano unison and a finely-set tempo in “Debut”; the drive of the rhythmic section, the arrangement and the solo chorus of stride in “I Got Rhythm”; the mood and the bass solo in “Isn't She Lovely”; “Pensativa”, the perfect vehicle for the lyricism and phrasing of Bruno Santos; the presence of Bud Powell in “Strictly Confidential”; the tribute to Wes in “Jingles”; “That Old Feeling” played well at a very challenging tempo - and the pauses in the coda; the groove of “Sweet Georgia Brown”, and the tribute to Monk by quoting “Bright Mississippi”; the bluesy solos in “Jessica’s Day”; and finally, “Memories of You”, a beautiful and instrospective solo piano piece, displaying a comfortable and well-settled tempo.
The listener is now free to discover other great moments on this Debut. This album is a genuine starting point, because many others will certainly follow it. We will be expecting them.