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Bebop Spoken There

Adam O'Farrill: "Right now in my life, I don't see music as the be-all and end-all." - (DownBeat November 2020).

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12,176 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1315 of them this year alone and, so far, 18 this month (Dec. 5).

Remembering ...

Roland Kirk died on Dec. 5, 1977.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Album review: Mário Laginha, Julian Argüelles, Helge Andreas Norbakken - Atlântico

Mário Laginha (piano), Julian Argüelles (soprano/tenor sax), Helge Andreas Norbakken  (percussion) 

Did you hear the one about the British saxophonistthe Portuguese pianist and the Norwegian percussionist Well, it’s no joke that they got together somehow, and I’m glad they did, because the second album on Edition Records from this “European jazz super-trio" is sublime. 

Argüelles emerged with Loose Tubes in the 1980s and has a reputation for lyrical playing inspired by his Iberian ancestryAtlântico invokes multiple folk and African rhythms, ingeniously conjured by Norbakken with the aid of his curious collection of bells, twigs and giant bass drum which featured two years ago in Sage 2, sprinkling magic dust on Daniel Herskedal’s Scandi Soliloquies


While Argüelles and Norbakken catch the ear first, it is arguably the remarkable Laginha who is the heart of the ensemble. His professed influence from Keith Jarrett shines through in several pieces, reinforced by the sax lending Garbarek’s voice to recall Jarrett’s great European quartet of the 70s.  


But to pigeonhole the LAN trio as a Jarrett tribute would miss the varietyrange and subtlety of the nine original compositions by all three of the band, augmented by three short improvised interludes.  The pieces run the full gamut of mood from lachrymose slow burning intensity, through grooving syncopation and upwards to full on stomping anthems. Argüelles sly and supple dexterity sings in fully formed sentences, where lesser sax players speak in fragmented phrases.  


The opening Jaam Rekk is a Wolof phrase meaning “I’m fine”, but I prefer to think of it as a jaunty, springy jam, with Norbakken’s clever battery deceiving the ear to believe a full rhythm section is present!   Sweetie is almost too gorgeous, with hushed sax and chiming piano perfectly illuminated with bells, shimmer and gently rumbling thunder.  Singla throws a catchy motif around, building to a honking climax.  


Triple Ripple is atmospheric and magical, with quicksilver piano dancing around a luscious sax line, often returning to a reassuringly wholesome motif, with telepathic three-way interplay The Three Js is the standout track, with neo-classical piano intro, building with pulsing percussion to a gloriously swaying theme which is taken to even more aching heights on tenor.  Argüelles’ playing on this track is quite breathtaking, distilling the best of not just vintage Garbarek, but also Brecker’s emotional intensity 


The closing Silencio soothes, with steady Bach piano counterpoint entwined with anxious, yearning soprano finally reaching a hopeful major resolution.  

Very highly recommended – a treasure trove of quite remarkable subtlety of melody, soundscapes and rhythm, which yields fresh delights at every listening.  

Chris K 

Release date: November 20. NUMBERED VINYL, CD, WAV, MP3 Pre-order at 

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