Setubal cs647









As suggested above, Setúbal also projects a broad wave-like character, and evokes the ocean soon after it begins: The quiet opening sequence suggests static at first, then lapping waves, but what's most riveting on subsequent hearings is the emergence of pitch perception per se (including as coalescing from very high tones), such that what seems like a (fairly typical) low scuffling buildup of whispery tones becomes almost an early planetary history of sound, into chirping birds & more tangible rippling rumbles — eventually thronging with processes or entities in a kind of counterpoint. And that's just the first few minutes of this relatively short (by chronometer anyway) album recorded live in February 2020 (in Setúbal) as a single track by a trio of Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), Nuno Torres (alto saxophone) & Miguel Mira (cello).... After the (figurative) ocean yields to (figurative) birds then, and this is an acoustic trio (i.e. not samples), a restart begins to suggest sirens at times or other more bustling human episodes involving various swells... and that's still the first half of the performance, from which some sort of continuity will generally be maintained. Unlike Sîn, a previous quartet album involving Rodrigues & Torres in Berlin (& a sequel itself!), and basically consisting of a series of episodes, some more striking or animated than others, Setúbal is more suggestive of a composite wave throughout its duration, although it does yield to silence at times. (Unfortunately, it also yields to a couple of prominent coughs at one such pregnant moment, but the musicians soon regain their focus....) Of course, after his son Guilherme, Mira has been the cellist performing most often with Rodrigues (for whom performing alongside a cellist is almost a norm), and they have dozens of albums together, including with the Lisbon String Trio: Whereas Setúbal is "only" a trio, then, it does show some similarities to those efforts (at least those with horns), although (perhaps surprisingly) there's been no alto sax collaboration with LST thus far — but perhaps the most similar album would be K'Ampokol Che K'Aay (with its own sort of natural imagery), although there with more variety of impulses from the variety of tracks, and indeed a multitiered filigree approach amid a more dialogic orientation.... (I might actually compare Setúbal to Baloni & Fremdenzimmer as another stylistic pole, with its stark coordination animated by timbral counterpoint, albeit via seemingly different inspiration.... And then there are the "two bowed strings & a horn" trio albums more generally, e.g. as discussed just last month around In This Failing Light, including the Rodrigueses in a similar formation with Udo Schindler on the extensive Mycelial Studies, an album that revolves more around lyrical heterophony, albeit sometimes in waves, than composite color....) The detailed sense of timbre & color combinations between instruments on Setúbal builds on Rodrigues's ongoing results elsewhere then, e.g. notably with Stratus (itself seemingly continuing the more modest Backlighting, as first mentioned here in a rather massive August 2018 series...), again in watercolors, but there in a more gossamer mode of strands & layers — all of this seemingly embedded in a post-Cage style or orientation, i.e. with both a sense of chance & fragility & indeed a consequent underlying calm. (And in this vein, Setúbal also comes to evoke a liminal harbor scene, as did Lluvia as just discussed, & e.g. as already traced here previously around Nashaz, an album with various other evocations as well....) And while Mira has participated in a broad swath of recent work with Rodrigues, apparently Torres hasn't been as involved lately: Setúbal is actually the second recent album from Rodrigues & Torres, though, following Aura (as recorded in March 2019 & released late last year), a somewhat clankier (or more industrial) trio of analogous timbral concentration with guitarist Abdul Moimême (another frequent collaborator): Aura didn't grab me in quite the same way, but does also explore close composite timbres & harmonic coloring in its own way. (Before that, Torres had appeared with Rodrigues most recently on 3 Phases II Grey, as mentioned here in an extended discussion of Stratus in January 2019, and before Sîn as discussed here in February 2018, it'd been Dé-collage as mentioned in July 2017.... But Torres did already appear on one of the first Rodrigues albums that really spoke to me individually within this project, New Dynamics, albeit itself more about humanistic conversation than is Setúbal.) Setúbal thus comes to be the latest distillation from these three musicians, including two of Rodrigues' closest collaborators, with Torres bringing a renewed timbral (i.e. combining) interaction to horn, after some recent projects from Rodrigues involving more sonic contrast: I wouldn't call it minimalist, because there's ultimately plenty to hear, but it does evince a particular concentration around its shifting waves, harmonics, glissandi, pops, toots, static, hockets, etc. Within that idiom, then, there's not only a strong sense of immersion around a frequent swirling legato emphasis (versus more percussive albums, including from Rodrigues, not that percussion is entirely absent here either), but a bubbling sense of propulsion, into cresting (& colorful) waves at times, with counterpoint per se sometimes suggesting (& drawing in...) human activity, becoming almost suave in moments — or maybe even bluesy (with a whiff of late Braxtonian immersion besides?). So it's a sophisticated synthesis by relatively small forces. And especially as an album recorded in 2020 (i.e. after various virus news had emerged rather generally, but not actually as the first 2020 recording discussed here — that would be Old and New Ghosts, discussed in March), I can't help but consider the ephemerality of music as a temporal art form, i.e. such that even when played from a recording, the particular sound of the moment does decay & vanish, itself figuring a sort of destruction in the wake of creation. There's thus, perhaps, a new potency to exploring such (sonic) ephemerality amid renewed global emphasis on the constancy of change, beginning on Setúbal with some remote (quasi-evolutionary) emergence, and into a sort of (quasi-narrative) storytelling figuring human continuity, in turn yielding to a sort of affective calm (as maybe not so unlike earlier New Age ambitions...) — that does linger powerfully (& consistently) in silence by the end. Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

A live performance at Casa da Cultura during the "Creative Sources Cycle" in 2020, capturing an extended acoustic improvisation between Ernesto Rodrigues on viola, Nuno Torres on alto saxophone, and Miguel Mira on cello, using restrained approaches to deceptively detailed dialog of magnificent technique, as they sonically describe the Setúbal Inlet near Lisbon. (Squidco)

"Setúbal" was recorded just before the covid lock down, also in a trio like "Multiforms", but this time with usual collaborators of Ernesto. Ernesto and Miguel provide here a minimalist/contemporary chamber music background for the incredible improvisations of Nuno. This time the length of the album is over 35 minutes so it deserves and merits **** without any doubt. The thing that I like especially about this music is dynamics, frequent changes of the moods and power of performance, its abstract versus conceptual "melodic" content. Again, this music can be regarded as XXIst century counterpoint to Ornette Coleman's "Skies of America" album or "Dedication to Poets and Writers" from "Town Hall, 1962". Maciej Lewenstein