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«Dialogues and Shadows» FUTURA RESISTENZA, RESLP024
«Encounters» FMR, 678
«Defiant Illusion» A NeEW WAVE OF JAZZ, nwoj0064
«Eventual» GUSTAFF

Dialogues and Shadows is the second album of Rotterdam-based prolific and always versatile and adventurous Portuguese double bass player Gonçalo Almeida with French trumpeter Pierre Bastien, following Room Sessions (released by Almeida’s label, Cylinder, 2020). Both Almeida and Bastein are interested in finding intriguing sounds that may induce the listening experience toward a world that goes way beyond a succession of notes and timbres. A mysterious awareness that happens when we hear a dialogue, a connection, and a shadow of luminescent presence. The album was recorded live at S/ash Gallery – WORM in Rotterdam in April 2022, and  Almeida and Bastien extended the sonic palettes of the double bass and the pocket trumpet with an array of custom-made sound objects and devices. They create abstract yet imaginative sonic entities rich with mysterious harmonies and polyrhythmic counterpoint, allowing the suggestive sounds to become a vehicle for a much higher meaning. Fellow Portuguese percussionist-sound artist Gustavo Costa describes this performance as a tribal dance from a culture that never existed. «Let the sound be the light that guides us in our shadows», Costa recommends.

Almeida and Belgian double bass player-sculptor-visual artist Peter Jacquemyn (he did the drawing on the cover) acknowledge the lasting, life-changing influence of the late German double bass master Peter Kowald on their lives and art. Jacquemyn was fortunate enough to record with Kowald (Deep Music, Free elephant,

2004), while Almedia thinks of Kowald’s last solo double bass album Was da ist (FMP, 1995) as a door opener for improvised music and what an improviser can do with a double bass. Encounters was recorded at the JazzBlazzt concert series in De Groels Kapel in Bocholt and at Jurgen Moortgat’s living room concert series in Mechelen, a day after, both performances took place in June 2022, and both were in Belgium. Almeida was recorded on the left channel and Jacquemyn on the right one, and both sound like expanding the innovative legacy of Kowald. They play with great physical power and uncompromising determination, exhausting their personal, unconventional, extended bowing techniques (including throat singing, like Kowald) to sketch layered, resonant and deep-toned textures. They become one massive, mostly turbulent but at times also introspective and quiet sonic entity, that its powerful vibrations may calibrate all vibrations to a greater good.

Defiant Illusion presents an ad-hoc, free improvising Portuguese quartet of electronics player Carla Santana, sax hero Josè Lencastre (on alto and tenor), violinist Maria do Mar and Almeida, recorded at Toolate Studio in Abóboda in October 2022. The atmosphere of this intriguing quartet, with its unique instrumentation, is reserved and patient, nuanced and chamber in spirit, despite the subtle, semi-industrialist and throbbing electronic sounds. The four musicians manage to balance and integrate their distinct voices into enigmatic, conversational dynamics while building a stimulating tension. This kind of dynamics stress deep listening and leaves enough space for individual solos and introspection. The aptly titled, 13-minute centerpiece “The Way of Zen” captures best the mysterious, contemplative and intimate aesthetics of Defiant Illusion.

Eventual continues Almeida’s collaborative work with Dutch ’knob twidler’, sound artist-sound designer-visual artist Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek, he designed the cover of Defiant Illusion), after releasing two EP’s together and playing together in the Hydra Ensemble (with cellists Lucija Gregov and Nina Hitz).
 The 32-minute piece was planned to be a soundtrack for Dutch filmmaker Lex Reitsma’s documentary about photographer Dutch Koos Breukel. The plan was to weave Almeida’s solo double bass improvisations into Zuydervelt’s score but in the end it was not used. But Almeida and Zuydervelt felt that the wealth of recorded material was too beautiful to lay to waste, and after more sonic experiments Zuydervelt structured this piece as a long-form, atmospheric drone composition, rich with gorgeous harmonics and overtones of Almeida’s minimalist and patient, bowed double bass. A highly immersive listening experience.

Eyal Hareuveni

Gonçalo Almeida (double bass, sound objects), Pierre Bastien (trumpet, sound objects), Peter Jacquemyn (double bass), Carla Santana (electronics), Josè Lencastre (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone), Maria do Mar (violin), Rutger Zuydervelt (electronics, post-production)