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Monday, April 17, 2023

Luís Vicente 4tet - House in the Valley (Clean Feed, 2023)

By Stef Gijssels

This new album by the Luis Vicente 4Tet is a fascinating return to the line-up and musical approach of the free jazz from the 60s and 70s. The album consists of two long tracks, one of 25 minutes, the other 42, that mainly consist of improvised explorations but anchored around agreed themes that are barely present, yet give the music a coordinated and strongly rooted feeling. Think of the music of Ornette Coleman of the mid-60s or even Don Cherry's music with "Symphony For Improvisors", of which one of the themes on this album is remeniscent of Cherry's "Mopti" (just like a theme on the first track created vague memories of Michael Blake's "Mekong", please check it out if you don't know this). These are just references to illustrate the quality and the beauty of the themes.

The band consists of Luís Vicente on trumpet, John Dikeman on tenor saxophone, Luke Stewart on double bass, and Onno Govaert on drums. The nature of the music is not comparable to the similiar line-up of "Goes Without Saying But It's Got To Be Said" (2020) with the rhythm section of William Parker and Hamid Drake, but of the same quality.

Vicente's composed themes are excellent: compelling, sweeping, grand, moments for the four musicians to reconvene and take a fresh take on the music with a different perspective. The themes do not actually return. They're played once, and the quartet then improvises to the next theme, as if they are anchor points the band collectively moves towards, only to move away again to the next anchor point. 

The album opens with "Anahata", which also figures on "Chanting In The Name Of". The second track starts with "Luisa's Laugh", inspired and dedicated by Vicente's three year old daughter.

The playing itself varies between moments of raw exuberance and gentle sensitivity, with periods of searching sounds, unpredictable yet always fascinating, with Dikeman's raspy sound contrasting with the fluidity of Vicente's  trumpet, both taking equal presence and novel ideas during the improvisations, as is the case with the incredibly inventive rhythm section of Stewart and Govaert, who sense the music and co-create at the same level as the horns. 

The album was recorded live at the 16th Century church Igreja do Espírito Santo, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal on the 19th July 2021. 

The music is unassuming, there is no other agenda than to play great music and to enjoy the quality and surprise of collective improvisation converging and diverging into beautiful unison themes. 

Highly recommended!

Listen and download from Bandcamp.

The spirit of Ornette Coleman is even more present in this video, called "Ornette Surrounds". 


Colin Green said...

One can pick up all kinds of echoes on the album, but I was put in mind of the great Ayler quartet from 1964, with Don Cherry.