Luís Lopes – Humanization 4tet (CF 105)
Most readers will be familiar with all the players on The Humanization 4tet with the exception of the leader himself. Part of the vibrant young Portuguese scene, self-taught guitarist (and longtime music fanatic) Lopes has enlisted the excellent saxophonist Amado and the rhythm section from Yells at Eels to play a session that combines the vir¬tues of Free Bop, harmolodics, and Vandermark-ish genre play. The Gonzalez brothers open up the record with a vigorous shuffle, and Amado charges forward with big-toned playing that recalls Tony Malaby. The leader, once his chance comes up, is a weird one—and I say that with admiration. He plays with a clean tone, but he favors a middle pickup position so that the tone is slightly more tart than is customary. He slurs, he scurries, he stops in unexpected places to flail at a single note, and he plays waaaaaay behind the beat to create a most interesting kind of energy. Good stuff! He sounds especially compelling on the somewhat ominous lope of “Long March,” where he combines odd stairstep phrases with sudden glisses and the like (weirdly like Monk on some level). The band works nicely in and out of time on these six tunes, often wisely breaking down into solos and duos (Aaron Gonzalez sounds especially hot on “Cristadingo”). And they’re a versatile lot too, comfortable in the bustling Free playing of “Paso” (pairing grainy upper-register tenor and sustained guitar lines), in the staggered funk of “Principio da Incerteza” (spacious and airy, almost like an essay in non-phrasing), and digging into plain old riffing, as on “Big Love.” It’s a fine record, and a nice introduction to a quirky, winning guitarist.
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