Mário Laginha: Fado

Notwithstanding its title, this song is not a "fado," the most popular type of Portuguese music. Still, it does have the nostalgic quality of such songs, plus a beautiful melody that Laginha improvises upon after its exposition. His piano's singing quality is fitting, for Laginha is the usual accompanist for one of Portugal's greatest singers, Maria Joao, and thus has a deep knowledge of voices. Here the pianist combines a great sense of structure and rhythm in the left hand, with a wonderful mastery of melody and touch in the right. Its quality allows this performance to stand on its own, halfway between the formal perfection of classical music and the carefree musings of jazz improvisation.

June 30, 2008 · 0 comments


Carlos Bica: D.D. from B.

"Delicious Donuts from the Balkans" is the full title of this tune, opened by Carlos Bica's bowed bass before his partners join in to provide a distinctive Balkan beat and melody. Though they are from three different countries, these musicians all have a link with the downtown Manhattan/Brooklyn scene (they lived or live there), its humor, its trashy sonic approach and, in the '90s, its appetite for Balkan music. They also remind us of the influence this scene had on Berlin musicians (Bica and Möbus still live in the German capital) at the time. Played with the energy and taste that these three instrumentalists show here, this music is still fun and doesn't sound outdated, although ten years later it's not much played anymore.

February 26, 2008 · 0 comments


Maria João and Mário Laginha: Há Gente Aqui

A very exotic number masterfully mixing jazz, folk and classical elements. Laginha's virtuoso phrasing on the piano has classical roots, as do Muthspiel's acoustic guitar arpeggios, and both players obviously speak fluent jazz. Gurtu's cymbal polyrhythms derive from his Indian background and from American drummers, but his tabla adds a clearly oriental color. As for João's voice, it is simply out of this world. Upbeat staccato scat singing, timbre and inflections that conjure up an animal cry, a baby's moan, an old man's grunt – she is everything and anything she wants to be, and we can't help falling under her spell.

February 19, 2008 · 0 comments


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