«Unnavigable Tributaries» was recorded in Lisbon in May 2019 at the end of a week-long tour of Portugal by a new trio – Portuguese trumpeter Luís Vicente with a rhythm-section of two heavyweights from the British free-improvised scene – double bass player Olie Brice and drummer Mark Sanders (who have worked together with the trios of Polish reeds player Mikołaj Trzaska and British reeds player Tobias Delius). According to Brice’s liner notes, it was a highly enjoyable week: «fantastic gigs, sunshine, great food, beautiful wine … the deep pleasure and excitement of playing with such creative, responsive collaborators and finding new ways to create together each night”. Brice wrote his liner notes “during the madness of Covid 19, in social isolation» but reflecting on these memories and «listening to our recording is helping me look both back and forwards to happier times».
You can sense Brice’s fond memories immediately, already in the first listening. Most likely, you may be drawn instantly into the sound universe of these three resourceful and strong-minded improvisers who insist on finding their own ways and resist subscribing to familiar ones, and their urgent spirit of highly expressive freedom. Vicente, Brice, and Sanders play their own version of free-fiery music with an impressive organic interplay, with a natural flow and quiet authority, generous degrees of trust, respect empathy and compassion and a strong poetic sense (check how all sing in their own language, individually and as a tight collective, the piece «Sabor»). The trio never loses its focus or the melodic core of these free-improvised pieces despite the occasional employment of extended techniques (especially on the experimental, sparse «Corgo» or «Tavora») and complex and highly inventive rhythmic games, as if they have been playing together for years. Somehow, the camaraderie, the shared language, the inventive interplay, and the natural charisma of all the three musicians are distilled perfectly into the short, playful, last piece «Paiva».
Brice mentions in his liner notes how much he misses this kind of human interaction, to «come together to make music, to listen to music and to share in the joy of being alive». We all share the same feeling, even more after listening to such a great recording. Hoping this is only the first one of many more.
Luís Vicente (tp), Olie Brice (b), Mark Sanders (dr, perc)