From Faust cs521









After six albums from the Lisbon String Trio last year, this year (so far, anyway) there are three: In fact, all nine albums were recorded within a year of each other, as the most recent releases date only to earlier in March this year than the series began last year — with the trio alone on Proletariat. And whereas the second through fourth volumes featured high reed instruments joining the string trio, before moving on to trombone & piano, this year's releases include two more guests on brass, as well as violin legend Carlos "Zingaro" Alves. The latter is certainly an exciting addition to their lineup, and the resulting album, Theia (to be discussed in more detail in a subsequent entry), moreover joins a sequence of improvising string quartet albums involving Ernesto Rodrigues: I had discussed the evocative Crane Cries here in April, and its specific instrumentation parallels the classical string quartet (albeit with one of the violinists sometimes moving to viola), whereas Iridium String Quartet (discussed here in May 2016, coincidentally in the same entry as Aleph — a precedent for Coluro, as recently noted) employed what I've been thinking of as the "jazz string quartet," i.e. with bass instead of a second violin — as does Theia. Sometimes moving in so many directions at once that it involves a sort of hide & seek for the listener, Theia displays some of the same capricious character as K'Ampokol Che K'Aay (recorded just two days after Proletariat, such that one wonders what would have happened had that interaction not achieved such a dazzling result) with Blaise Siwula, albeit with fewer timbral distinctions. (K'Ampokol Che K'Aay & Theia also share a motivic orientation, quickly moving through arrays of harmonic spaces. And I had already admired both guest musicians before hearing them with Lisbon String Trio, so maybe that's the important part for my reception! Hopefully I remain open....) When it comes to the guests on brass, not only does Lisbon String Trio have the precedent of Intonarumori, with Carlo Mascolo joining on trombone, but coincidentally in this space, there is also the recently discussed Polyorchard: Sextet, Quintet, with its classically-inflected yet improvised exploration of string & brass combinations. With a single brass instrument & three strings, the Lisbon String Trio releases present less opportunity for simultaneity from the brass, but also tend to involve more focus through smaller forces. Regarding Intonarumori (discussed in August 2017), I had suggested considering a different string balance, so as to frame the trombone differently, and whereas Polyorchard manages to include so many combos that various balance points appear, on (the seventh Lisbon String Trio release) Tactile, trombonist Eduardo Chagas tends to maintain an ambivalent orientation low in the texture. I've already mentioned the latter recently, in entries around Meandros e Vertentes & For Cecil Taylor, and indeed Chagas has worked extensively with Ernesto Rodrigues (including on recent duo album Holes and Cracks) & other Creative Sources regulars. Consequently, perhaps, Tactile is by far the most diffuse & experimentally-oriented album yet in the Lisbon String Trio series: I particularly enjoy the first several minutes of its single track (recorded in Lisbon in February), in which the trombone does establish an intriguing & relatively assertive textural relationship, but much of the album involves quiet subtlety & extended sounds from all involved, such that e.g. breathy horn animating high position string harmonics becomes a highlight. A sense of landscape might thus be said to emerge, and that's even more true (in a more assertive guise) of From Faust, featuring Sei Miguel (b.1961) on pocket trumpet, and recorded in March in Lisbon (the day after Theia): I had not mentioned Miguel here previously, but he has an impressive discography on Clean Feed, etc. And with the pocket trumpet, the often quiet & murky balance of Tactile is basically turned on its head, as the piercing trumpet tends to dominate attention whenever active, and moreover to call out starkly over a "landscape" established by the strings. The latter can be quite rich, buoyed by a wide variety of techniques, as well as a sense of excitement in playing with such a noted & uncompromising horn player in Miguel, but since the trumpet generally must remain quiet in order for the strings to interact, one is often left wishing for a more balanced interaction overall. One certainly doesn't lack for immediacy, though, at least when the trumpet is active, as the latter balances insightful interjection & commentary against a concertante style, such that a rhetorical quality emerges across the three tracks (each longer than the previous) of From Faust: The album begins almost with an overture, maintaining a sense of mystery & anticipation, then elaborates the string textures in richer detail (while retaining that mysterious sense) & into near silence, before making a more assertive & polished extended statement. So each of the resulting quartet albums featuring a guest on brass with Lisbon String Trio raises balance issues — or balance opportunities, I suppose.... And indeed, the string & brass combinations continue to appeal, offering tantalizing possibilities, if not actualities.... Finally, regarding the "band" remarks recently articulated around Coluro & Empty Castles (which shares a similar, calling spirit with From Faust), Lisbon String Trio appears to be becoming a band — although, at this point, their activity is documented for less than a year, as noted, so who knows whether they'll continue. Moreover, their series adopts a distinctive (physical, graphical) look around collages by Dilar Pereira: I don't generally spend much time discussing graphics here (and of course you can observe my own site in that regard), but after noting the DIY style on Creative Sources releases such as Coluro, I wanted to note the Pereira collages as well, particularly as collage was one of the defining early forms of postmodernism (& continues to be used extensively in adventurous or genre-bending music). (These two distinct styles of graphic design, by Carlos Santos for Creative Sources, might also be contrasted with e.g. more "classic" or stark covers such as those of For Cecil Taylor & most recently, Jardin Carré... the latter's music to be discussed in a subsequent entry.) The collage covers thus mark the Lisbon String Trio series — & accurately so, as with the possible exception of Tactile, the music readily concurs — as relatively conservative within the Creative Sources catalog. In other words, they are original & creative within their idiom, including via instrumentation, but the idiom itself is not especially radical. Nonetheless, I continue to find the series to be quite appealing as an exploration of texture around classical & extended string techniques, incorporating & combining traditional rhythms & harmonies (often at quite a density). There is not so much juxtaposition of material, as one might find in a straightforward collage — & Pereira already incorporated blending techniques — but much material is indeed encountered, in a traveling mode, i.e. via (musical) movement through time. So whereas Rodrigues et al. might evoke or inhabit a visual mode at times, they are not (particularly) constrained by ocularcentrism, at least not in its static (or exclusively distant) form. 17 July 2018. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

Em mais este título da série protagonizada pelo Lisbon String Trio (Ernesto Rodrigues, Miguel Mira e Alvaro Rosso respectivamente em viola, violoncelo e contrabaixo) com um músico convidado, no caso o trompetista Sei Miguel, o que mais uma vez está em causa (vide, por exemplo, as colaborações do grupo com Eduardo Chagas e Blaise Siwula) é a forma como se articula uma formulação musical específica de um trio de cordofones com outra, bem diferente, da parte de um instrumento de sopro. Se este funciona por meio de articulações da respiração – com Miguel muito particularmente, dado o seu típico fraseio alinear, entre inspirações e expirações –, as cordas de arco tendem a ignorar essa medida construtiva e expressiva. Entre os três procedimentos possíveis, a simples oposição, o alinhamento do sopro no tipo de discursividade do LST e a adaptação deste aos processos do convidado, o que prevalece é o último, e isso torna-se evidente, inclusive, no modo como um, dois ou todos os três músicos da formação “respondem” às deixas introduzidas pelo trompete.
Não acontece por acidente, ainda que se trate de música integralmente improvisada: o código-base destas parcerias do Lisbon String Trio está no estabelecimento de relações, no ir para fora de uma linguagem que, por se predispor à abertura, não a força. Cada disco marca uma diferença na própria natureza das execuções e o interessante é verificar, por vezes no limite, como o trio mantém a sua identidade colectiva apesar das distâncias que é chamada a percorrer, sem que em algum momento transpareça a ideia de que há contenção ou uma norma a seguir. Em “From Faust”, disco alusivo à personagem da lenda germânica que vende a alma ao diabo, a situação representada é a do homem que resiste à vontade do senhor das trevas precisamente quando parece satisfazê-la. Ninguém melhor do que Sei Miguel para, neste contexto relacional, vestir o papel de Mefistófeles. O que daqui resulta é uma música gestual, de movimentos bem desenhados e mais física do que poderíamos supor tendo em conta as suas características pausadas e introspectivas. Um CD a ouvir com toda a atenção… Rui Eduardo Paes (

Trumpeter Sei Miguel joins the Portuguese Lisbon String Trio, his second collaboration with the free improvising core group of Miguel Mira on cello, Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, and Alvaro Rosso on double bass, adding a distinctive voice to their subtle interplay as they present this three part work based on the legendary German character who traded his soul to the devil. (Squidco)