Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lama, "Oneiros": Contemporary Modern Jazz from Portugal

Lama is a trio of Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, flugel and electronics; Goncalo Almeida on contrabass plus effects and loops; and Greg Smith on drums. Their album Oneiros (Clean Feed 240) gives us a good hearing of what they are about with eight pieces, six by Almeida and one apiece by Silva and Smith.

First off, a quibble. Sometimes the electronics on the pieces sound extraneous and unnecessary, little sounds akin to surface noise or digital distortion. I found it most times a distraction to what was going on elsewise. Once I recognized what it was I was hearing (not my stereo blowing up) I managed to partially tune it out and concentrate on the other musical voices. Other times the electronics seem more integral to the proceedings. There are only a few sections that have this sort of electronic undercurrent, so it is a minor concern.

This is contemporary trio jazz with Silva's trumpet defining the sound distinctively. Much of the music works around motives that repeat and transform, solos following in part the impetus and implications of the motif. Silva's brass work tends to be puckish in interesting ways, she does not often let loose with long strings of improvisational speech but more often sticks to short stabbing cells that she works out of. Goncalo has a more long-phrased approach and does some quite interesting work within the collective format. Greg Smith plays nicely free or swinging drums depending on the context and is a good addition.

All-in-all this is a quite interesting set. It is so as much or more so compositionally-conceptually as it is improvisationally in any long-lined linear sense. But that in part is what makes the music different.

I found the music stimulating. Let us see where they go from here.

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