João Almeida is a young Portuguese, Lisbon-based trumpeter, only 23 years old, who already has studied and experienced playing classical music, jazz, free jazz, and non-idiomatic improvisation. On his last year of bachelor studies at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa, he had lessons with American innovative trumpeter-improviser Peter Evans, and shared the stage with some of the prominent musicians from the vibrant Portuguese scene as Gabriel Ferrandini, Hernâni Faustino, Rodrigo Amado, Ernesto Rodrigues, Susana Santos Silva, Abdul Moimême and Pedro Melo Alves.
«Solo Sessions *||||» is the debut album of Almeida and focuses on extended breathing techniques and timbral research in a similar spirit to the work of Evans, but also of other experimental trumpeters such as American Nate Wooley, German Axel Dörner or Japanese Toshinori Kondo. It is a DIY album, released by Almeida on his Bandcamp page, recorded himself in Bairro das Colónias, Lisbon in March 2020, and did the mixing and also the artwork for the cover.
The eight pieces offer distinct and bold strategies of playing or mutating the spectrum of sounds of the trumpet, using only the trumpet and a mute. Some of the pieces focus on the extended techniques like «Awkward», «Membrane» or «Steps», delivered with an impressive sense of control and discover a myriad of weird, alien sounds. The most interesting pieces are the ones where the techniques serve the loose narratives and develop fragile dynamics, radiate nervous urgency or sketching a fragment of a story like «Points» and especially «Train» that imagines the rhythmic cycles and the rattling sounds of an archaic train, or the quiet and melancholic «Wobble» that closes this adventurous journey.
João Almeida (tp, mute)