Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pianist Julio Resende Puts A New Shine on Mainstream Jazz

In recent months thanks to Cleanfeed, Ayler Records and the kindness of Rodrigo Amado, I've gained a new appreciation of the Portuguese jazz scene today. It's vital. Julio Resende's new CD Assim Falava Jazzatustra (Cleanfeed) brings that home once again in a direct and exciting way.

Julio leads a fine quintet on this recording and they do a series of originals and a cover that provide much interest and variety. The music is in a freebop-and-beyond vein with the riffing rockish drive of "Don't" to the mesmeric "Ir e Voltar " (with superior guest vocalizing from Manuela Azevedo) and much in between to spark the senses and stimulate the ears. A big surprise is a bluesy balladic solo piano cover of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" that works perfectly.

Resende reflects the influence of early- to mid-Jarrett but uses that as a springboard to what is hard driving and contemporary all the way. As a soloist he is a clone of nobody and shows pianistic subtlety as well as formidable linear thrust. Alto saxophonist Perico Sambeat and tenorman Desiderio Lazaro are also strong soloists and with Resende's imaginative improvising form a consistently revelatory triumvirate. Doublebassist Ole Morten Vagan has moments to shine as well and acquits himself with some very lively discourse.

When a session like this (recorded live incidentally) works well it does so for the pieces, the soloing and the push of the rhythm section. Assam Falava Jazzatustra comes through with all of those elements in place. Is Resende the Zarathustra of jazz? I don't know and it is only an encapsulating idea to get you pondering at any rate.

This is a blast to hear! I recommend that you do so!

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