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Tuesday, January 12, 2021

RED Trio & Celebration Band - Suite 10 Years Anniversary (NoBusiness, 2020) ****

 By Stef Gijssels

The Portugues RED Trio is without a doubt one of the best piano trios in Europe. The trio of Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, Hernani Faustino on bass and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums has received a lot of positive reviews over the years on our blog. 

For their first album on Clean Feed in 2010, I wrote "It is incredible what kind of emotional depth and sonic visions this trio creates, out of nowhere, out of nothing". It was no surprise that they were also open to add other musicians to join them at concerts, or the other way round, other musicians were interested in performing with them: John Butcher ("Empire"), Nate Wooley ("Stem"), Matthias Ståhl ("North And The Red Team"). Other albums are "Rebento" (2013), "Mineral" (2015), "Summer Skyshift" (2016). 

Now, four years later, we get this memorable album with the "celebration band", an ad hoc group of musicians, primarily also from Portugal but with the addition of some partners on the previous albums such as John Butcher and Matthias Ståhl. The other members are Sei Miguel and Luís Vicente on trumpet, Fala Mariam on trombone, Pedro Sousa and Rodrigo Amado on tenor saxophone, Nuno Torres on alto saxophone, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Ricardo Jacinto and Miguel Mira on cello, Carlos Santos on electronics, Miguel Abreu on voice and electric bass, and David Maranha on percussion. 

The performance was recorded to celebrate their tenth anniversary at the Teatro Maria Matos in February 2018. The theater itself commissioned the concert "Suite", a work in three acts, each written by one of the three founding members, and deliberately composed for the ensemble mentioned above. 

The first track, called "Corrente" is written by Rodrigo Pinheiro, as an half hour long magnificent piece for the ensemble, and it by itself can be considered a suite, with its varying subthemes and thematic shifts, ranging from slow fragile textures to intense and dense interaction, with all restraints dropping away near the end of the improvisation. The second track, "Mais Vale", is written by Ferrandini, and is for me a disappointment. It is less complex in texture, more pychedelic in its delivery, and the vocals are a complete letdown. I understand that this is a very subjective appreciation, but it creates a totally different musical universe than what we are used from the band. 

Luckily, the third track, "Ditirambo", composed by Faustinho, makes up for this. The piece is more than 42 minutes long and spectacularly good. Again, with this length, it cannot do any different than to bring a lot of variation. It starts slowly with the trio gradually creating their music out of little sonic ingredients, barely audible, which get more voice and volume for the first eight minutes: the trio as we know and admire them, creative, intense, mesmerising. Then some of the other instruments join, adding different layers to the already dense sound, which comes to a silent stand-still, offering the stage to the horns, with Sei Miguel and Fala Mariam setting up a sad dialogue challenged by the electronics of Carlos Santos and then Butcher's sax. It evolves in unpredictable ways, navigating silence, then moving forcefully into full band power and volume, then to silence again, and leading us to a grand finale of bright and expansive music: a wonderful closure to celebrate the 10 years of the RED Trio. 

Get the double CD. You will love it. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp