Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

João Paulo- Memórias de Quem (CF 075)

João Paulo Esteves Da Silva is a pianist, composer and improviser who someone associates to Keith Jarrett. Sincerely, I don’t understand the reason of this comparison, given that I perceive his music as much more genuine, at least in regard to the current state of things. If releasing a set for solo piano is enough to be compared to Jarrett, there are still many different ways to touch the audience’s sensibility; this man explores most of them. Academically trained, he discarded an obvious predestination to the classical course to embrace jazz; but a jazz album this ain’t. Over the course of nine pieces, João Paulo shows his personal view of romanticism and, in a way, tradition through his splendid technique, which he always puts at the service of a well rooted spiritual profoundness; case in point is the adaptation of popular themes that he performs, an example being the heartbreaking “Durme”, a stark contrast with the sterile exercises of many so called virtuosos that have me snoring after five minutes. But wait – maybe you also want to hear some serious digital juggling. No problem: “O incêndio” and “Fantasmas” contain enough zigzagging counter-parallelisms to convince even the most skeptical sentimentalist-buster that the guy is also damn good in treating the ears to bittersweet harmonic candies coated with non-impossible dissonance. Both here and in the title track – enriched by the author’s chanting – a light went on in my mind, making me ponder about the more obscure work by Egberto Gismonti, certainly a more plausible choice to depict similarities in styles that, in any case, remain completely independent. Together with Bernardo Sassetti, João Paulo represents the most fulgid example of pianism from Portugal, music that doesn’t need explanations or clarifications to be enjoyed in all its delicate, melancholic grace.

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