Master drummer Hamid Drake frames the debut album of the trio of Portuguese prolific trumpeter Luís Vicente as a deeply spiritual experience. Drake, who played with Vicente in the album «Goes Without Saying, But It’s Got to Be Said» (with sax player John Dikeman and double bass player William Parker, JACC, 2020), quotes Sufi mystic Hazrat Iayat Khan (1882-1927) who taught us that music is the «the underlying code of the whole universe. Music is life». The Luís Vicente Trio – with double bass player Gonçalo Almeida and drummer-percussionist Pedro Melo Alves, both are protagonists of their own projects, proves how this teaching is relevant and essential lesson to our life.
Vicente composed the five pieces and the trio recorded «Chanting In The Name Of» at Soundinnovation Studios, located on the picturesque Atlantic coast of Portugal. The first piece, «Anahata» (first played with the quartet What About Sam?, «Happy Meal», JACC, 2015), already cements the subdued, spiritual atmosphere of this album. This piece is titled after the 4th subtle energy center in the human being, the heart chakra, in the yoga philosophy, representing the unhurt and unstuck and associated with balance. The natural flow of the music, its sense of openness and freedom, the captivating melody and the immediate, almost telepathic, non-hierarchical and patient dynamics of this trio tap beautifully into the idea of Anahata. The following «Keep Looking» offers, obviously, the searching side of this trio. Vicente and Almeida experiment with extended breathing and bowing techniques but sketching a restless but poetic texture that concludes with an ecstatic coda. This piece highlights the strong individual voices of this trio, and its economic dynamics, a profound mastery but without excessive effects.
The title piece is one of the most beautiful pieces of music that I have heard this year (again, played first by What About Sam?). Drake mentions again the teaching of Hazrat Iayat Khan about chanting the name which we search for, and how this search «opens broad vistas of discovery and creative imagination». This kind of intimate and introspective search stresses the fascinating, lyrical colors of the trio, and the trio sounds here as chanting a timeless, healing spell. The playful and energetic «Connecting the Dots» is rooted in the free jazz legacy, demonstrating again how freedom is an essential part of the musical personalities of Vivente, Almeida and Melo Alves. The last piece, «May’s Flower» suggests another simple, beautiful melody, echoing soulful, folky themes, and delivered in a graceful and passionate interplay.
Drake summarizes his impression of this fantastic trio: «The music echoes hope, compassion, beauty and understanding that the human body cries out for and not only in the time that we are living in, but at all times. We would do ourselves a favor by taking the time and listen to the music presented here. Allow the secret of its amazing power to move us, heal us and undo the glue that oftentimes keeps us stuck and prevents our moving into a higher dimension of our humanity». Amen!
Luís Vicente (tp), Gonçalo Almeida b), Pedro Melo Alves (dr, perc)