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«Common Ground»

Portuguese sax hero José Lencastre continues to expand his sonic horizons with every new album. «Common Ground» the new quintet and the new album, his fifth for the musicians collective and label Phonogram Unit, attempts to capture dialogs and interaction «in a searching mode». The quintet – veteran master violinist Carlos Zíngaro, pianist Clara Lai, double bass player Gonçalo Almeida and drummer João Sousa (who recently released a duo album with Lencastre, «Free Speech», Particulara, 2021) – aims to find unity in language and sound within their different approaches and backgrounds. The debut album of this free improvising quintet was recorded at Namouche Studios in Lisbon in November 2021.

This quintet sketches complete free territories, referencing free jazz but in the most abstract and chamber manner, as the opening piece «Revolutionary Periods» suggests. Patiently but organically it builds its haunting interplay, letting the music flow in its own accord and with its inner logic, with all five musicians taking leading roles. Lencastre’s tone here is introspective and contemplating, soft and caressing, and he always anchors the intense dynamics with strong melodic threads.

The other four pieces suggest the Common Ground quintet’s like-minded, risk-taking approach. «Unbroken Flow» highlights the post-bop, tight rhythmic sensibility of the quintet. «Nature of Reality» stress the immediate affinity of Lencastre and Zingaro, now offering a passionate, stimulating dance around each other. «Inspirational Souls» relies on a light but driving rhythmic pattern and slowly crystallizes into a spiritual, beautiful free jazz piece. The last, title piece brings together all the disparate elements of this inspiring quintet – the chamber, dreamy and expressive dialogs of Lencastre and Zingaro, Lai’s lyrical abstraction of the fleeting melodic veins, and the rhythmic sensitivity and imagination of Almeida and Sousa, as the Common Ground quintet methodically intensifies its poetic conversational dynamics.

Excellent album.

Eyal Hareuveni

José Lencastre (as), Carlos Zíngaro (vio), Clara Lai (p), Gonçalo Almeida (b), João Sousa (dr)

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