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«Lumina» is described by young Portuguese drummer-percussionist-composer Pedro Melo Alves as an avant-garde third stream composition, an omnidirectional composition for the 23-musicians Ominae Large Ensemble that blurs distinctions between contemporary music, modern jazz, free improvisation and electronic music. Melo Alves founded the first version of the Omniae Ensemble as a septet in 2016 (and its self-titled album was released by Nischo Records in 2017) but expanded three of his compositions of the Ensemble into orchestral versions after he was commissioned by the Guimarães Jazz Festival. He defined Omniae as «the space of the whole. Shapeless whole, where the absence of lines is not able to contain any possibility. Beyond space and time, where the little norms of meaning fade away. Omniae Ensemble may be a glimpse of the whole». «Lumina» by the Ominae Large Ensemble was recorded live at Centro Cultural de Vila Flor in Guimarães in November 2020.

«Lumina» is Melo Alves’ answer to the troubling Covid-19 lockdowns. It is a survival chant, expressing some hope after two years of a science-fiction-like nightmare when suddenly, there is some light. «How do we even start to look for all that ungraspable light?», Melo Alves asks. The jazz septet – with the core musicians of Melo Alves, pianist José Diogo Martin, guitarist Mané Fernandes, alto sax player José Soares, trombonist Xavi Sousa and trumpeter Gileno Santana, who played in the original recording – was transformed into a large ensemble adding electronics, tuba, clarinet, flutes, bassoon, cello, classical guitar, three singers and a conductor Pedro Carneiro, a percussionist in both the contemporary classical and improvised music fields, who recorded recently with Melo Alves the duo album «Bad Company» (Clean Feed, 2021)

Melo Alves is an ambitious, highly original and bold composer who insists on finding his own way and suggesting his own, inclusive sonic vision. «Lumina» sketches possible, stylistically deterritorialized tendencies for 21st-century global music with a 75-minute suite-like, comprised of three long, highly nuanced, subtle and layered answers to Melo Alves’ existential question. Melo Alves, who won the Bernardo Sassetti composition award for his compositions to the original, septet version of the Omniae Ensemble, clearly pays his respects with these compositions to the late, seminal pianist, as well as to other trailblazing and influential musicians like George Russell, Gunther Schuller, Charles Mingus or Andrew Hill, all enriched the jazz legacy with compositional tools and strategies from classical and contemporary music. «Lumina» demands repeated listening to grasp its multitude of intricate sonic landscapes but it guarantees tasteful and stimulating food for the curious, cerebral minds as well as superior degrees of emotional and aesthetical resonance.

Eyal Hareuveni

Pedro Carneiro (cond), Pedro Melo Alves (dr, perc), José Diogo Martins (p), Mané Fernandes (el.g), Pablo P. Moledo (b), Clara Saleiro (fl),  João Pedro Brandão (fl, as), José Soares (as), Albert Cirera (ts, ss), Frederic Cardoso (altcl, bcl), Álvaro Machado (bassoon), Gileno Santana (tp), Xavi Sousa (tb), Ricardo Pereira (tb), Fábio Rodrigues (tuba), Luís José Martins (class.g), Luís André Ferreira (c), Alvaro Rosso (b), Mariana Dionísio (v), Nazaré da Silva (v), Diogo Ferreira (v), João Miguel Braga Simões (perc), João Carlos Pinto (elec)

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