Vitor Pereira Quintet - New World
(F-IRE Presents F-IRECD84. CD review by Adrian Pallant)
It's a pretty safe bet, heading-up a band with alto saxophonist Chris Williams and tenorist George Crowley, that creative sparks will fly. And sure enough, on Portuguese electric guitarist Vitor Pereira’s second quintet album, New World, the firmament is ablaze with deliciously unpredictable moves and blistering artistry.
Resident in London since 2004, Pereira formed this quintet in 2009, completing the line-up with double bassist Andrea Di Biase and drummer Dave Hamblett. The guitarist’s nine original compositions here are delivered with panache; and whilst there exists through-composition and structure, he allows Williams and Crowley acres of freedom in which to push their improvisatory expression to extremes, as well as stepping into the spotlight himself.
The album title stems from the influence of socio-economic themes on Pereira’s writing: “Societies are polarised, climate is changing, the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is reaching record levels and our world is in a desperate need of a new one.” So his music is frequently irascible and edgy, near to boiling point, as evidenced in Empire of Lies, a sinister episode shaped by dark guitar/bass riffs and duelling saxes, with Crowley’s gruff tenor ingenuity especially effective; and sneery, anguished Gangsters Undercover (“written with the political class in mind”) is threaded with furtive guitar tension, satisfyingly full horn writing, and shot through with bags more of that anarchic though fluid solo sax dissonance.
Yet, amongst this musically potent angst, the band’s ability to portray optimistic clarity of thought is equally impressive, Under the Pillow offering lyrical sax vibrato, sustained guitar clusters and lissome double bass soloing; and Bohm’s Hologram (after the US physicist’s theory on the universe) glides spacially to Pereira’s mysterious chordal direction and Hamblett’s forthright impetus, as Crowley and Williams intertwine, also turning in strikingly spectral extemporisations. It’s very much these fluctuations and uncertainties in direction which keep the set so alluring.
Pereira’s solo guitar lines, added to tenor/alto and combined with Hamblett’s fast-shuffling pace, reveal a snappy rock energy in Simple Disguise, Di Biase’s constantly bubbling bass later exchanged for an almost radiophonic weightlessness in his arco harmonics. The saxophonists are a joy to listen to, with so many tricks and timbres up their sleeves – here, Williams’ alto begins to adopt chromatic Israeli inflections; and Crowley’s typically fearless tenor blowing, colliding with alto in atmospheric echoes, hits the spot on the title track. To close, Surfing Mini Waves bristles defiantly, its strong, memorable melodic hooks imaginable as a cult retro TV theme – and thoroughly engaging.
At nigh on 70 minutes, some jazz albums might lose their way – but New World brims with vigour, imagination and staying power.
Adrian Pallant is a proofreader, musician and jazz writer who also reviews at his own site ap-reviews.com