All About Jazz-New York review by Stuart Broomer

Hugo Carvalhais – Nebulosa (CF 201)
Thanks to the very active Clean Feed and Creative Sources labels, Portuguese free jazz and improvising musicians have developed an international presence in the past decade. The more mainstream side of Portuguese jazz is less well known abroad, thoughlately the Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos, resident in the city of Porto, has raised its profile in recordings with Lee Konitz, Chris Cheek and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Here bassist Hugo Carvalhais presents another facet of Portuguese jazz, leading a trio with pianist-synth player Gabriel Pinto and drummer Mario Costa. It’s a debut for the young band, but they demonstrate a distinct identity, further developingand testing it in company with alto saxophonist Tim Berne, present on six of the ten tracks and most of them ovements of the title suite. The group’s appetite for space is immediately apparent in “Intro”, isolated drum beats, bass thumps and piano chords somehow articulating the most minimalist and attenuated Latin beat. As the CD develops the group shows affinities with Maiden Voyage-era Herbie Hancock, a taste for broad consonant intervals and hanging resonance, though always pared down, whether it’s Pinto’shanging chords or Carvalhais’ warmly tuneful bass. The fundamentally architectural style may seem like an odd fit for the emotive intensity of Berne, with his alto tone rapidly moving from acid to sweet and his vocabulary of coruscating runs and sudden asides, but it’s that encounter that creates some of the greatest interest here. Together the cool sense of distance and insistent heat create fractures and openings in the music’s surface, through which something freshemerges. The trio’s concluding “Redemption” is a moment of profound and moving reflection, the ultimate achievement of its spare lyricism.

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