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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Pedro Alves Sousa, Rodrigo Pinheiro & Gabriel Ferrandini - Cloud at Rest (Phonogram Unit, 2022)

By Stuart Broomer

Recorded over four days in Portugal’s Goethe Institute in November, 2019, this captures a highly interactive trio made up of distinguished Lisbon improvisers with a significant shared history. Pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini began their partnership in the Red Trio with bassist Hernani Faustino in 2008. When they recorded their tenth anniversary Celebration Band (No Business), tenor saxophonist Pedro Alves Sousa was among the saxophonists. Sousa appears in Ferrandini’s trio Volúpias (Clean Feed); Luís Lopes’ nine-member Lisbon Freedom Unit (Clean Feed) included all three, as does the recently released 2012 workshop orchestra, Evan Parker "X-Jazz Ensemble," playing A Schist Story (JACC). Sousa and Ferrandini have also played as a duo, happily dubbed Peter/Gabriel.

That degree of familiarity contributes much to the spacious ease that characterizes the music heard here. During his evolution as a drummer, Ferrandini has increasingly emphasized a light, spare, rapid approach, the movement and sound of his sticks suggesting twigs or knitting needles, while Pinheiro’s fluent creative lines and clusters possess a similar quality. If the two suggest a suspension of gravity, Sousa presents a refined counterbalance, his tenor sound and line sometimes suggesting Evan Parker, to subtle to be often cited as a style marker. It’s a warmly hollow, slightly muted sound in which the high frequencies are seemingly rolled off, brightness instead emerging in a highly mobile, free line that comfortably leaps intervals and registers.

The CD jacket provides a strong visual correlative to the music, an image of a gold nugget floating in dark space with clouds floating overhead; the back cover depicts an exploding gold nugget, all attributed to Francis Bacon with Clouds by Caravaggio. The eight episodic titles derive from this:

Exploding”, “Nugget”, ‘Francis”, “Clouds”, “Background’, “Caravaggio”, “Shining”, “Crystal”.

There’s substantial variation here. “Clouds”, a mere 2’24”, is a complex yet lyrical piano piece for its first 90 seconds before Sousa, and then Ferrandini, enter; similarly brief, “Background” has an initial statement by Sousa before the others enter. The concluding “Crystal” runs to ten minutes, but it has a developing structure in which solos, duets and trios present contrasting segments.

The group creates complex space by contrasting density and pace: "Caravaggio” has a stretch of slow, intensely percussive piano and rapid-fire tenor to create tension. ‘Shining” has a single multiphonic tenor blast as interlude to a moody piano exploration. The ultimate effect of these pieces combines the perpetuity of great architecture with the shorthand communication of a friend, a dance between the instantaneous and the eternal.

It’s a genuinely open event in the art of improvisation, a rich stream of dialogue in a fluid language.

Listen and download from Bandcamp


Anonymous said...

Pedro Sousa in my view deserves much wider recognition. His achievements with Gabriel Ferrandini present outstanding synergy. A couple of them have been reviewed here, and so I came across him. Thank you guys for that.