Jazz Views | João Lencastre’s Communion 3 – Song(s) Of Hope

By Chris Baber

Portuguese drummer Lencastre has been visiting New York for around 15 years where he has heard and met many of the musicians who have made up his Communion project – in its permutations over that time of trio, quintet, or septet. The various members of this different incarnations, and the people who Sacks and Opsvik have played with read as a veritable who’s-who of the New York scene. So it is fitting that the three have come together in this latest incarnation of the project. Interspersed with the longer tunes are ‘Magnetic Frequency’ parts 1 to 4 – each lasting less than 2 minutes and each a mini-masterpiece in tension, with rumbling bass or piano and drums that rush in and out of the mix.

The title track of the album is third in the set (presumably the addition of the other (s) in the title in the set indicate that all the tunes are meant to be hopeful). The opening chords and accompanying drum patterns were reminiscent of South African jazz from the 1960s, albeit slowed down to slower than walking pace and with jittering piano or bass runs interrupting the flow of the tune. If my interpretation makes sense, then the piece could be heard as a reflection on attempts at resistance (against whichever political turmoil you chose) and continued reaction to these attempts. The ‘hope’ comes from piano persisting to the end of the piece, ending the final 20 seconds or so with a continued right hand tremolo over the chords. Throughout the pieces, Sacks’ piano playing shifts beautifully into the darkest reaches of avant-garde jazz without losing the sensibility of contemporary classical music. Lencastre’s sympathetic drumming crosses similar boundaries between musical idioms and the way that he and Opsvik create swirling tension in the rhythms drives the music.



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