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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pedro Sousa, Miguel Mira & Afonso Simões - Rajada (Multikulti, 2018) ****½

By Stef

Interestingly enough, the Polish label Multikulti organises a series of albums to highlight music coming from other countries, in this case the Iberian peninsula, with the trio of Pedro Sousa on tenor, Miguel Mira on cello and Afonso Simões on drums. The album is called 'Rajada' which is Portuguese for a 'strong gust of wind, a machine gun burst, movement or impulse, something which is clearly fast'. 

The title is well chosen, the music sounds like warm wind on a summer evening, alternating between a velvety breeze and a gale, with intermediate squalls and once in a while touching on hurricane level but without developing into it. Sousa's tone is warm, round and sensitive, even in the most energetic moments - and there are many - and the trio's music is in a way as far removed from Brötzmann's 'machine gun' approach as you can imagine, or even from Evan Parker, in contrast to what the liner notes suggest. 

Sousa is known in the meantime to the readers of this blog. Miguel Mira we know from his collaboration with the Motion Trio, led by Rodrigo Amado, this other great Portuguese saxophonist. Afonso Simões is less known, but amazing on this album. Even if Sousa is the leading voice, this is a trio album ... with each musician contributing equally to the total sound, and generating a strong cohesion throughout the long improvisations on the album. 

This music is not about power, it is not about transcending boundaries, it is all about intensity and immediacy, whether in the slow or fast parts, a deep authenticity is always there.  

Despite the physicality of their playing, the three musicians are totally unassuming about themselves,  letting the music run its course, as if with its own logic, but together, without disruption or sudden changes, yet moving from gentle, melancholy moments of deep sorrow and longer tones, to stuttering little bursts, energetic and nervous, delivered with urgency and insistence. 

As the best test for good music, this is one album that you want to hear again and again without getting tired of it.

Listen and download from Bandcamp

Watch a performance by the trio dating from February of this year: