Had a lot of fun playing this music with bassist Dudley Phillips and drummer Dave Smith….
Here’s a review by Tony Benjamin from Bristol.
HERMETO PLUS, FRINGE JAZZ
By TONY BENJAMIN, Friday Apr 1, 2022
The Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and composer Hermeto Pascoal has been influencing musicians worldwide since the 70s. Wild of hair and beard, he’s famed for a combination of deeply rooted rhythms, eccentric instrumentation (including kitchenware) and a free-spirited approach to melody and improvisation. Taking that anarchic recipe into a jazz piano trio format could have meant unduly taming Pascoal’s essential energy but pianist Huw Warren has a deep understanding of what makes the Brazilian’s music work. In picking bass player Dudley Phillips – a longstanding collaborator – and drummer Dave Smith he has assembled a fiery team well suited to their inspiration.
Thus we had few clearly defined solos but rather followed the threesome as they collectively carved their path through a mix of great Pascoal numbers and a sprinkling of Warren’s. Tunes often switched abruptly from tight cross-rhythmic passages into all-out free playing from which order would eventually emerge (only to dissipate again, inevitably). Bass man Phillips was often left to hold the melodic role while Warren’s piano hammered complex pulses, the pianist’s hand damping the strings for percussive effect across the intricacies of Smith’s kit work. This worked in different ways: for Santa Caterina an elegant, almost classical bass solo introduction led to a sort of counterpoint with the piano while the drums seemed to take on the melody. That tune gently evaporated, whereas the rumbustious Jegue (it means donkey, apparently) fired off into dense piano harmonics against a drum’n’bass style effected bass sound that, nevertheless, managed to breeze off with a light touch samba in an instant.
The well known O Farol Que Nos Guia (The Lighth that Guides Us) was especially well handled. It’s a ballad that tempts the player to overstate its emotional feel, but here it became a vehicle for dynamic exploration as a bass and piano duet. The tune segued into Papa Furado, an exuberant maelstrom full of sudden punctuation and emphatic flourishes with Smith using the drum kit’s entire vocabulary of sounds. As the set proceeded the group’s tightness became ever more apparent, with their joyful exposition of a Maracatu tune by Jovino Santos Neto a flawless display of off-beat precision and Brazilian ebullience.