Carlos Barretto Trio + Louis Sclavis – Radio Song (CF 072)
Portuguese bassist Carlos Barretto’s 2002 recording Radio Song was originally released on the obscure CBTM label. Reissued by Clean Feed, this edition complements his 2004 album Lokomotiv (Clean Feed) with a session of highly charged, free-wheeling post-bop, spiced with traditional Portuguese folk melodies.
Barretto’s resume is filled with stints accompanying Mal Waldron, Barry Altschul, Don Moye, Karl Berger and Steve Lacy, among others. A stalwart bassist and a magnanimous leader, he contributes selflessly to the trio, providing ample space for his band members’ solo excursions. His phrasing is subtly prudent, never prone to flashy excess, even during his own lyrically focused solos. Joined by guitarist Mario Delgado and drummer Jose Salguero, the trio makes a joyful noise, shifting gears from propulsive to introspective in a heartbeat.
Guitarist Mario Delgado is a wonder; from delicately picked arpeggios to fret-shredding blasts of distortion, he reveals an encyclopedic knowledge of guitar history. Driven by Barretto and Salquero’s rollicking vamps, Delgado often launches into aggressive volleys augmented by various EFX units. Coaxing formidable sheets of sound from his instrument, he conjures a hybrid of raw, jazz-rock fusion and impetuous, electric free jazz.
Salguero provides a solid percussive foundation, gingerly accenting grace notes during serene passages and railing with pugilist fervor during climactic moments. Casually negotiating unusual time signatures and sudden rhythmic shifts, Salquero handles Barretto’s thorny writing with finesse.
Joined on three cuts by French woodwind multi-instrumentalist Louis Sclavis, the augmented trio navigates sprightly folk forms that careen with joyous abandon. Caterwauling fervently through “Distresser,” oscillating wildly on the Klezmer-tinged “Asa Celta” and contributing abstruse commentary to the spare meditation “On Verra Bien;” Sclavis shines. Interweaving serpentine melodies with nimble, malleable rhythms, the quartet blends inside and outside approaches seamlessly.
A unique blend of Portuguese folk music and adventurous contemporary jazz simmering with vigorous interplay, Radio Song is a stellar example of international jazz, and highly recommended.