The Wire review by Bill Meyer

Sei Miguel – Esfingico: Suite For A Jazz Combo (CF 170)
You can’t always judge a record by its title. Portuguese pocket trumpeter Sei Miguel long ago passed through Chet Baker and Miles Davis on his way to something very much his own. He has a small circle of players – trombonist Mariam Fala, electronicist Rafael Toral, percussionist Cesár Burago and newcomer Pedro Lourenço on bass – who know his music inside out and subscribe not only to its sounds but its ethos. This is music mindful of the responsibility to not only improvise, but make something distinctive. They’re not here to play a few nice choruses on “Autumn Leaves.” So while you have, ostensibly, a jazz combo – if you mistake Toral with his gesturally controlled electronics for an onstage mime, the band might look like one – they don’t really play like one. Instead of the lead and back-up relationship so common in jazz, there’s a sense of music being passed around here, the responsibility handed off like a relay. Each player seems mindful of shaping silence with their sounds, rather than the more common reverse. Each Cherry-esque brass blurt, stop-start groove, or electronic squiggle sounds absolutely necessary, its production as serious as your life. Which, I guess, is as good a reason as any to call it jazz.

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