Cadence Magazine review by Robert Iannapollo

João Paulo / Dennis Gonzalez – Scapegrace (CF 144)
The return of Dallas-based trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez (2) to a more regular recording schedule at the turn of the decade has been cause to rejoice. Clean Feed has been one of his most reliable patrons and he’s put out some excellent music for them. His latest for the label is Scape Grace, a set of duets with Portuguese pianist Joao Paolo Esteves da Silva. Although the two had never met until a few days before the session there’s clearly a simpatico vibe between them. Gonzalez is known as a trumpeter of fire and passion on many of his releases, drawing on later Bop and Free improvisation for his vocabulary. Yet what is frequently missed is a melodic core often at the center of his playing. At times there’s a spiritual dimension (harder to pinpoint but it’s there) as well. And that is what is to the fore on these duets. Da Silva is also a melodic player. There is obviously some classical study in his background but his rhythmic drive belies his commitment to Jazz. The two blend beautifully often creating swirling tonal centers hovering around each other (best heard on Gonzalez’ 3/4 piece, “Anthem For The Moment.” That’s not to say that dissonance doesn’t play a part in the proceedings. Da Silva’s harmonic palette is dense and rich and accompanies Gonzalez by feeding him harmonic material that really plays into both Gonzalez’ sense of melody and adventure. And Da Silva’s rhythmic acuity is what keeps this music moving forward. Gonzalez seals the link between the two during his solo on Da Silva’s “Duos Dancas Araicas” when he interpolates the opening motif to his own “Anthem For The Moment” and they fit into each other perfectly. Scape Grace is a wonderful set of duets by two players who seem to have a genuine feel for each other’s music. And it’s an excellent introduction to the work of either of these players.
©Cadence Magazine 2010

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