Alarm’s “Week’s Best Albums” by Scott Morrow

Carlos Bica + Matéria Prima (CF 180)
Portuguese bassist and composer Carlos Bica, like many in jazz circles, is a fruitful artist.  Splitting time between Portugal and Germany, Bica has worked with scores of established musicians in a pair of great jazz scenes.

However, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, Bica’s material is forceful, dramatic, and unafraid to take chances.  This disc, recorded live with his Matéria Prima group in 2008, exemplifies this approach.

The album’s opener is driven by a looping Western guitar riff, which is topped by a reverb-soaked lead that weaves in and out.  A striking cello, trumpet, organ, and drum kit accent the lead with power and precision, and a full beat begins a lively groove.

Much of the rest of the album could be filed under jazz, but Bica’s unique arrangements add bits of blues, lounge, psych rock, and more while maintaining a coherent style.  It’s an accessible and engaging effort.

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