AN ELECTRIC GUITARIST who has contributed to so many high-profile jazz line-ups, André Fernandes’ Dream Keeper marks his first major international release as leader.
The Portuguese player/composer/recording engineer’s sizeable roster of collaborations includes Lee Konitz, John Hollenbeck, Tomasz Stanko, Avishai Cohen and Jeff Ballard; also contributing to Seven Hills, a fine trio album from (his pianist here) Alexi Tuomarila. With a remaining core personnel of Perico Sambeat (saxes/flute), Demian Cabaud (bass) and Iago Fernandez (drums), Fernandes also invites guest instrumentalists (notably Paulo Gaspar on bass clarinet) to swell an album with an especially chameleonic sound world.
These six originals by Fernandes (plus title track written by saxophonist Sambeat) meld energetic contemporary jazz with crashing prog guitar influences and the kind of folksiness found across the exploratory ’70s Canterbury scene of, say, Caravan, Camel or early Soft Machine – a dizzying experience at times, with a saturation of cross-pollenated textures, requiring focus to become immersed in this undoubtably slick, fast-changing crucible of ideas.
Chifre‘s opening statement of intent begins to colour the impressionistic canvas with torrential alto and guitar lines set within a rhythmic piano/bass/drum vortex; and bass clarinet adds tremendous buoyancy. Anti-Hero is reminiscent of Moutin Reunion Quartet, its assertive Zawinulese melodies (tenor and guitar) so attractive – yet the journey is never straight-ahead, switching to Tuomarila’s typically aqueous piano improvisations over Cabaud’s grungy bass, followed by Fernandes’ appealing guitar effects.
The contrapuntal complexity of Snakes and Ladders is voiced through a panoply of instrumental combinations, Sambeat’s rapid-fire sax extemporisations (at times resembling those of Gilad Atzmon) enhancing drummer Fernandez’s driving energy; and Jack (inspired by a Tim Burton character) erupts into guitar-stomping ferocity, heightened by crazed high-end alto.
Arabat, at over ten minutes, perhaps becomes a little drawn out, particularly after the notable concision of earlier numbers; but tracks such as airy, percussive, samba-grooving Rabbit Hole and concluding Dream Keeper (offering a fantastically gritty, dissonant and almost mystical allure) are where the real energy and excitement of these 46 minutes lie.
Released on 12 February 2016, Dream Keeper is available as CD and high-quality download from Edition Records’ Bandcamp store.
André Fernandes guitar
Perico Sambeat alto and tenor saxophones, flute
Alexi Tuomarila piano
Demian Cabaud bass
Iago Fernandez drums
Marcelo Araújo percussion (tracks 2 and 6)
Paulo Gaspar bass clarinet (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
Desidério Lázaro tenor saxophone (tracks 2 and 6)
Gonçalo Marques trumpet, flugelhorn (tracks 2 and 6)
Edition Records – EDN1066 (2016)