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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sei Miguel - Esfingico (Clean Feed, 2010) ****½

The album's subtitle, "Suite For A Jazz Combo", is somewhat misleading in the sense that the word "jazz" is too limitative for the music you can hear on the album, nor is the word "combo" the right one either, since you rarely hear all musicians play together. The band consists of Sei Miguel on pocket trumpet, Fala Mariam on alto trombone, Rafael Toral on modulated resonance feedback circuit, Pedro Laurenço on bass guitar, Cesár Burago on timbales and small percussion.

The music is minimalist, soft (as the opposite of loud), consisting of a very open canvas of precise coloring with sparse notes, slowly revealing structures and rhythms as they move along. There is forward movement, the result of agreed structures and possibly compositional elements. It took me a while and many listens to get into the music, but the end result is very rewarding. If present, the rhythm changes are varied, unusual yet compelling, Miguel's clarity of tone is a pleasure to hear, and so is Mariam's trombone. Laurenço's bass-playing is also more sonic than rhythmic, adding textural depth and emphasis. The electronics are restrained and functional, driving the music forward, feeding it back, without being too intrusive. A weird but very enjoyable sonic environment is the end result, carefully crafted, full of emotional tension and opening new directions for music in a clever and creative way. Enjoy!

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© stef