By Eyal Hareuveni
Portuguese-American (with family roots also in Brazil and Italy) drummer Gabriel Ferrandini is known from the acclaimed RED Trio and sax player Rodrigo Amado’s Motion Trio. He is one of the key players in the vibrant scene of Lisbon and have collaborated with innovative improvisers as Alexander Von Schlippenbach, Axel Dörner, Evan Parker, John Butcher, Nate Wooley and Thurston Moore.
But Ferrandini is much more than a resourceful and imaginative improviser. Three years ago he decided to focus on composition and spent the whole year of 2016 as artist-in-residence in the famed ZDB (Galeria Zé dos Bois) club, where he experienced his ideas about notated compositions with close comrades, bass player of the RED Trio, Hernâni Faustino, and sax player Pedro Sousa, his partner in the PeterGabriel duo. His kind of classic jazz meets free-improvisation compositions were played live every month and comprise the album «Volúpias».
Ferrandini’s compositional process began with an attempt to create an extended version of drummer Tony Williams’ «Love Song» (From «Spring», Blue Note, 1965, with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Gary Peacock), but evolved into a cycle of compositions that challenge the very essence of jazz language and vocabulary. The titles of Ferrandini’s compositions follow the streets of Lisbon, the streets that lead from his home to his studio and then to the ZDB club. These compositions sketch a sonic-mental map of Lisbon as a major musical city, with all its eccentric temptations and sensual surprises. Two adaptations of local electronic musician, Ondness, who combines dance beats with exotic soundscapes, cements the new, unconventional course.
These compositions-dreamscapes offer strong mysterious veins and sound as a suite that becomes more intense as Ferrandini comes close to the ZDB club. The music is layered cleverly – Sousa’s tenor sax caress and whispers gently from above and expresses the romantic, lyrical core; Faustino’s bass builds the tension with his earthy tones and his array of extended bowing techniques while Ferrandini colors and deepens the dramatic-enigmatic narrative with imaginative and totally free conception of rich and resonant pulse. Ondness’s «Rua de O Século» and «Rua dos Caetanos» sound as slowed-down techno pieces, arranged for an acoustic-minimalist trio. This trio channels its contemplative, abstract interplay into a loose, free jazz one as it reaches the vicinity of the ZDB club on «Travessa dos Fiéis de Deus». The last and longest piece, «Rua da Barroca», titled after the street of ZDB, is the most complex one. Souse articulation becomes more incisive, dense and mean. Ferrandini hits the drums and cymbals with much more power and patiently builds polyrhythmic patterns while Faustino holds strongly this powerful mayhem. Then «Volúpias» becomes free, creative music in the highest sense possible, free from all conventions and genres.