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Friday, December 13, 2013

RED Trio – Rebento (NoBusiness, 2013) ****

By Dan Sorrells

RED Trio aren’t a piano trio per se; they just happen to be a trio with piano, bass and drums. After two albums featuring “guest” musicians John Butcher and Nate Wooley, RED Trio return to NoBusiness in their original configuration. Rebento picks up pretty much where their 2010 debut left off: huge, intense tracts of exploratory clatter that are often whittled down to an urgent, repeating pulse or theme. But like all good free improvisation, Rebento isn’t a music of stasis, and RED Trio’s methodology generates anything but predictable results.

“Carne” starts the A side with the crunch and splinter of Hernani Faustino’s bass and Gabriel Ferrandini’s drums. Soon, pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro comes careening in with a Tayloresque flurry of notes. After about five minutes, the trio gets pulled into a rapid current—an amazing, roiling feeling of movement that’s exhilarating, even if it’s hard to surmise just what it is that’s driving them along. It’s a feeling we’ve gotten from RED Trio before: this sense that, despite the classic instrumental lineup, we’re encroaching upon territory that’s beyond history or influence, cutting a path through the dense thicket of three overlapping minds, one that becomes illuminated when they put fingers to instrument.

After a blustery beginning, “Para” settles into a haunting soundscape of (what seems to be) scraped cymbals. There’s a strange, spectral doubling of sound, as though the cymbal tones are colliding around inside of the piano. With the touch of Tilbury, Pinheiro begins stringing delicate beads of notes. Soon, a crescendo: huge, open swells of piano and droning bass. It reaches a skin-tingling peak that’s overwhelming and—to use an adjective we don’t deploy often enough when describing this music—beautiful. “Canhão” spans the entirety of side B, a U-shaped piece that tumbles down its starting slope until it reaches a spacious, unsettling nadir, only to take off again on the tips of Ferrandini’s flying drumsticks.

When I think of the ground RED Trio has covered since we first encountered them in 2010, I also think of Mark Wastell, in an interview, remarking about the dangers of pinning a description to a group’s sound, and how “commentators and critics” are always 12 months behind the true flow of progress. Rebento has reached us now, at the end of 2013, but it was recorded over a year ago. It’s invigorating music from a band that continues to challenge itself. Where might RED Trio be today?

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