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Monday, July 31, 2023

João Almeida, Rodrigo Pinheiro & Vasco Furtado - Linae (Phonogram Unit, 2023) *****

By Stef Gijssels

Young Portuguese trumpeter João Almeida started his professional career by releasing a solo trumpet album (Solo Sessions 1-III), in both physical and digital format. They were exercises in technique, demonstrations of his incredible skills, his creativity in tonal explorations, his acrobatics but also the mastery of his instrument as an extension of his own self. Other noteworthy albums and collaborations are 'Garfo", "Hyper.Object", André Carvalho's "Lost In Translation", and with the trio "Peachfuzz" last year. 

We find him back now in the company of Rodrigo Pinheiro, one of my favourite pianists of the last years, whose RED Trio and other colloborations cannot be recommended enough, and with Vasco Furtado on drums, also one of the in-demand Portuguese drummers of the moment. 

"Linea" is an incredibly strong album, one that you can listen hundreds of time without getting bored (I'm not yet there, but close enough I think). The playing of all three musicians is beyond excellent, but I think the biggest challenge and success is Pinheiro's piano-playing, who manages - as the only harmonic instrument - to provide the solid foundation for the trumpet and the drums to excel in their art by moving all in the same direction without any guardrails and in total freedom. The trio journeys through very contrasting territories: highly energetic and dynamic, quiet and meditative, even tender moments, agitated and persistent, intense and gentle. 

João Almeida truly shines in this environment. His brilliant technique and musical ideas come to full fruition here, as is his versatility to move between completely free playing and developing repetitive phrases that sometimes slowly develop into themes that can evaporate as fast as they arise. Furtado's playing amplifies the incredible intensity of the music, by accentuating, driving forward without clear rhythmic patterns yet with strong pulse. 

The music is fresh and passionate, full of variation and creativity. 

I don't think I'll ever tire of listening to it. I'm sure you won't either. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp