Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WAS? What About Sam, Happy Meal

Portuguese avant modern jazz comes through with flying colors via the quintet WAS? What About Sam and their album Happy Meal (JACC Records CD). It is free but structured composition-improvisation that in its own way reminds of classic AACM music but then has its own twists.

The group is a strong one with Luis Vicente on trumpet (whose music I have covered on these pages before) and providing two of the compositions, Federico Pascucci on tenor and one composition, Roberto Negro on piano, providing a composition as well, Andre Rosinha on double bass and Vasco Furtado on drums. The additional two numbers on the album are collective improvisations.

What strikes me about the music is how the front line and the entire band improvise around the written and their overall sense of cohesiveness. The numbers have a sequential quality with worked out sections that may center around a solo or collective improv but impose unexpected turns not typical. There is open freedom to be heard, but different and unusual structuring of what the group unleashes from moment to moment.

Vincente, Pascucci and Negro have much to say as soloists, but the rhythm section has an active role to play too that goes beyond time keeping or the studious avoidance of pulsation.

In short the ensemble gives us an original approach to taking it out and in the process generates plenty of way-stations of musical interest that keep the ears busy and well nourished.

It is yet another notable example of the vitality of the Portuguese scene. I hope the quintet stays together and gives us yet more. As it is Happy Meal provides us with a great deal of unusual music. Here's one to check out, by all means.

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