Luís Lopes – Humanization Quartet (CF 105)
Another treasure trove of music is to be found in Clean Feed recording artist Luis Lopes. The guitarist’s first recording even surprised label chief Pedro Costa as he artfully explains in the liner notes. Who knew? Like so many of Clean Feed’s discs, American listeners discover new sounds and new musicians with nearly every release. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the early exploration into jazz. Instead of Miles and Coltrane leading to Hank Mobley and Johnny Coles, listeners can now discover superb Portuguese and European players. Such is the case with the self-described Humanization 4tet.
A blindfold test might place this music somewhere inside today’s Chicago sound. Lopes’ writing and his quartet could almost be mistaken for a Jeff Parker-meets-Ken Vandermark, as the tenor saxophone/guitar interaction of Rodrigo Amado and Lopes orients you into the free/composed styles heard in the windy city of jazz. The opening “Cristadingo” verifies this with a muscular workout, Amado blowing heavy notes over Lopes’ sinewy playing. The saxophonist has been gaining quite a reputation for his work in the Lisbon Improvisation Players and with players like Ken Filiano, Steve Swell, Joe Giardullo and Paal Nilssen-Love.
Aaron and Stefan Gonzalez, the bass and drums playing sons of trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez, back up the front line. Up to the task at hand, they drive “Paso,” an open-form tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini, from their introduction, a kind of marching ball of energy that gives way to the tentative saxophone and very outer-space tunings of Lopes as he dials in foreign frequencies.
Elsewhere the guitar/sax unison walk is utilized as an introduction to “Principio de Incertesza,” before the four open the song for a wandering bit of freedom. “Long March” features an extended bass opening into a measured procession, Lopes ringing simple notes from his guitar as the piece builds into a simmering stew. The final track “4 Small Steps” bites into a bit more aggressive take on rock meets jazz.