CARLOS BARRETTO LOKOMOTIV – Labirintos (CF 179)
This disc, by the long-standing trio of bassist Carlos Barretto (who’ll show up again toward the end of the month), guitarist Mario Delgado and drummer Jose Salgueiro, bridges the gap between jazz and rock in a way that others—John McLaughlin, Sonny Sharrock, Nels Cline, Raoul Björkenheim—have done before, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Clean Feed has put out two other albums by this band, Lokomotiv in 2004 and Radio Song in 2007 (the latter a reissue of a 2002 disc). On each of those, a guest was present—on Lokomotiv, it was baritone saxophonist François Corneloup, and on Radio Song it was Louis Sclavis on clarinet, bass clarinet and soprano saxophone. This time out, though, the trio stands on its own, with terrific results.
The album starts slowly, “Salada 2” drifting along in a way that reminds me of Bill Frisell, particularly his work with the Ginger Baker Trio (which featured the rock legend on drums and Charlie Haden on bass). Delgado’s guitar playing is extremely pedal- and electronics-dependent; Joe Morris-style cleanliness is not for him. Salgueiro is a hard-hitting, rock-style drummer who can be extraordinarily subtle when he feels like it, but he frequently doesn’t. These two dominate on the title track, a scorching, distortion-drenched outburst. Barretto, on the other hand, is a sensitive upright bassist whose bowing and plucking are more chamber jazz than metallic fusion. When he takes a bowed solo on “Asterion 5,” mirroring the one that opens the disc, Labirintos becomes a whole different record. “Tuttie per Capita” is a very beautiful, conventionally swinging track with only a hint of weirdness in the guitar, and Salgueiro restrains himself admirably, dancing on the hi-hat and cymbals and giving Barretto plenty of room, which the bassist makes the most of.
Many tracks split the difference between beauty and noise. “Makimbira” shifts back and forth between delicate interplay and a fuzzed-out main riff played over martial snare work. Barretto sounds like he’s playing through a pedal himself on this piece—the bass is practically a subsonic rumble, something from a hip-hop track. Toward the midpoint, Delgado takes a solo that in its high-pitched, staticky buzzing reminds me of McLaughlin’s work on Miles Davis’s “Go Ahead John,” minus the speaker-switching effect. The album’s final track, “Terra de Ninguem,” brings the disc to a gentle close, with Delgado’s guitar work coming off reminiscent of Frank Zappa, of all people, while Barretto and Salgueiro set up a spiritual, droning rhythm bed not unlike John Coltrane’s Village Vanguard band from 1961. Unlike the rest of the album, “Terra de Ninguem” is live, and the applause at its conclusion is fitting tribute to everything on this excellent record.
To sum up:
1. Do I foresee myself listening to this record again? Yes.
2. Should you buy this record? Yes.