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The Paradox of Hedonismo | Free Jazz Blog by Stef Gijssels
The “Paradox of Hedonism” is philosophical concept that says that you cannot acquire pleasure or happiness directly, they can only be acquired indirectly. And like this title, the other tracks of the album are all philosophical themes, either related to this paradox, or a little more remote like Nietzsche’s “Will To Power“. Our friend Wikipedia will tell you more about all this here. Pleasure and happiness are consequences, not objectives.
So what does this mean in musical terms? This is the task of Susanna Santos Silva on trumpet, Tom Chant on tenor and soprano saxophones, and Vasco Trilla on drums and percussion. The interesting thing is that you would expect a very abstract and high brow affair, yet it isn’t. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s a kind of organic improvisation, like the sound of nature or even better the sound of animals. You can hear them interact in short screams and statements, sometimes angry, sometimes gently, energetic or calm, but actually going nowhere at all. It all takes place in the moment, without clear direction other than what is happening right now, moved forward in reaction to what the other musicians are doing. The sounds are very close to the listener, as if you’re part of what’s happening, or at least in the middle of it, which makes it both intimate and disconcerting at times.
The result is really excellent, and despite it’s obvious lack of accessibility, I also find it the best album of the three reviewed here. All three musicians share the same musical vision and maintain the approach despite the variety of angles by which they attack the concept. It’s also relatively unique, which makes it fascinating.
This will not be for everyone’s ears, but more than worth exploring for the more adventurous listeners, who will not be disappointed.
Susana Santos Silva & Torbjörn Zetterberg “Almost tomorrow” | All Reviews here
“Santos Silva is a master of tonal nuances, coaxing an astounding array of colors and textures from her horn, creating call-and-response effects via rapid alteration of open and muted sounds, weaving cohesive narratives without obvious melodies…”
Tom Greenland 12/13 | Read more at NYC Jazz Record
“Both musicians manage to find the perfect balance between strong musical character, pushing the envelope of sonic phrasing, with short bursts and extended techniques, yet alternating with more welcoming lyricism of the more traditional kind. (…) The most beautiful pieces are “Columbus Arrival At Hajerdalen”, a long and deeply emotional improvisation emerging from Zetterberg’s arco, with Santos Silva playing some absolutely heartrending and moving phrases (…). Highly recommended for fans of intimate avant-jazz dialogues.”
Stef Gissels 11/13 | Read more at Free Jazz Blog
“(…) Qui navighiamo in concetti improvvisativi che sono molto vicini allo status di arte”
Ettore Garzia 11/13 | Read more at Percorsi Musicali
“Almost Tomorrow is a tremendous piece of music, a powerful burst of free playing that also incorporates classic jazz styles. Portuguese trumpeter and flugelhornist Susana Santos Silva and Swedish bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg make a formidable duo: they each have a remarkable command of their instrument, which allows them to explore a stunning range of sound. (…) The resulting music is a forceful blend that’s impressive and shocking and absolutely enchanting. Most of the tunes are avant-free concoctions that are a joy to behold.(…) Silva is really a marvel; she gets such a startling array of sounds on her instrument, from small splutterings to large swaths of tone, from creamy smooth peaks to imposing jagged ridges.(…) Honestly, is there anything Silva and Zetterberg can’t do? There’s definitely something special going on in Almost Tomorrow. It’s one of those CDs that give the listener a feeling of discovery, a sense of being on the ground floor of something fresh and intriguing.” Florence Wetzel 10/13 | Read more at Squid’s Ear
“Santos Silva plays the flugelhorn in an intoxicating way. (…) one of the most interesting young trumpet players of today.”
Guy Peters 09/13 | Read more at Enola.be
“(…)Almost Tomorrow is the perfect bridge between to the groups and excellent collaboration of two emerging talents in the European scene. Santos’ playing is becoming more bold and creative with each release. She brings a rich spirit of ideas (…)”
Stephan Moore 08/13 | Read more at JazzWrap
“(…) All the way it is communication that is strongest in this duo. (…) However, we note Santos Silva’s slightly sharp and beautiful sounding trumpet, which sounds much more Swedish (Magnus Broo) than Portuguese. She is a player who with “Almost Tomorrow” grow big and musically mature, and who one should take note of. Zetterberg is, as always, a monument with the bass. A brilliant album that surprises.” Jan Granlie 07/13 | Read more at JazzNytt
“A duo that choose their own original path and explore the limits of dialogue between trumpet and bass, an almost scientific experimentation of Jazz content. A conversation of sounds accomplice and unpretentious, cohesive and intimate, to listen to straight through.”
Lama | All Reviews here
Striking is also the Santos Silva solo later in this document. She is definitely one of the most exciting trumpeters in the experimental jazz of today and leave here again hear where that reputation is based on. Squeaking and scratching she evokes the most extraordinary sounds from her instrument. Sometimes sweet, sometimes abrasive, poignant and gritty. But what she does, her musicianship is nothing less than perfect.
Read more at Draai om je oren
The pieces fit together so tightly that there’s hardly room for a wasted note, beat or breath as the musicians move gracefully through the set of songs, nimbly riding the contours between structure and freedom. (…) A great recording” Paul Acquaro 11/13 | Read more at Free Jazz
“Santos Silva’s phrasing has undeniably something of the fearless momentum of Don Cherry. Her interplay with Chris Speed is rich, sophisticated and full of productive tension. The extraordinary quality of Lama’s music is primarily in the transitions which occur between the pieces and within the pieces: fanciful, seductive and exciting. (…) Santos Silva plays everything that is made for trumpet. (…) The playing of these four musicians remains amazingly grounded while simultaneously opening up new perspectives. The fascination of listening remains. Apparently they succeed what many others only try: creating fantasy worlds that appeal to people, fantasy worlds that capture our imagination and our salvation in the sea of reality. (…) Santos Silva, Almeida and Smith have moulded something into a fascinating and provocative shape!”
Henning Bolte 05/13 | Read more at Written in Music
“(…) an album that stays intriguing and fascinating. On top of that, Santos Silva, who’s constantly playing with subtle sound shifts and sometimes switches to the sturdier fluegelhorn, demonstrates an impressive reach and mastery over tonal variety.(…)”
Guy Peters 09/13 | Read more at Enola
“(…) LAMA is one of those bands that are in the immediate vicinity of the intersection between accessible and experimental jazz. It is played with a fresh, adventurous spirit and scope for personal freedom, yet the atmosphere is often dreamy, cinematic and charming, without the use of cheap effects, cheesy themes or other pre-fabricated ideas. Here you have three strong musical personalities who protect the purity and alertness, and it is especially as a collective that the three show the best of themselves. (…) . And who knows where the journey is going, though we do not even claim that LAMA as an intermediate station to another and better place. No, this is modern jazz that confirms that we do not have to worry about the future of the genre. ” Guy Peters 09/13 | Read more at Enola
“The music, especially in combination with the titles, appeals to the imagination. The atmosphere is accessible but not too easy. A very pleasant CD to repeatedly get lost.” Jan Nieuwenhuis 09/13 | Read more at JazzFlits
“The best that can be said of the new Portuguese scene is that is making it’s own identity based not on the imitation of any particular stream and not sound as anything familiar. Lama is a trio led by bassist Gonçalo Almeida with Canadian drummer Greg Smith and the young trumpeter Susana Santos Silva, a true revelation to me that in these days I also saw released a duo with Swedish bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg in which she immerses herself in the stormy waters of free improvisation and enjoyed the splendid presentation at the recent Ljubljana Jazz Festival. After a promising debut, Oneiros, this second recorded live at Portalegre has had the sax and clarinet reinforcement of Chris Speed, that far from occasional guest act has fit perfectly into the concept of the band with his calm and deep style. Susana presents in this context a lyricism that reminds me that chamber music Dave Douglas that I miss so much in his latest projects. The strongest characteristic of Lamaçal is creating amazing atmospheres with unexpected twists, very free spirit without losing the taste for melody, and all topped by a subtle use of electronics which gives it a very contemporary sound. A highly enjoyable listen.”
Cayetano López 07/13 | Read more at Dark Was the Night
“Lama is able to make his vision and his unique electro-acoustic music to create occupation where present and future effects of past and present are combined and beautiful instrumental melodies with the trio “Lamaçal” is proven again.”
David Cohen 05/13 | Read more at Jazzenzo
“From the onset of “Alguidar,” the trio’s bold inventions make a cutting impression… In the end, it all comes down to musicians with complete facility on their instruments creating art through inventiveness….While there are shades of influences from the past and present, the trio successfully pulls off the hat trick by sounding totally unique while demanding respect with superlative musicianship. Oneiros is brilliant and distinguishable” Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz
“The pieces fit together so tightly that there’s hardly room for a wasted note, beat or breath as the musicians move gracefully through the set of songs, nimbly riding the contours between structure and freedom.” Paul Acquaro, Free Jazz
“Lama’s jazz is innovative, avant-garde and outside conventions” Journal Hard Musica
“Lama, Oneiros: Let’s just call this avant-garde…An alluring set of dissonance and drive. Also on the Clean Feed label, who smartly scooped up this trio up. RECOMMENDED” 17 Dots
“long beautiful trumpet calls, low and serene, over a sea of electronics and gentle rhythms… Electronics swirl about in a desert wind… an animated journey… released on the excellent Clean Feed label, who has time again proven themselves unafraid to take chances with challenging recordings” Music is Good
“A democratic engagement modelled on structure and deft expressionism akin to a multi-colored water painting… contrasting loose movements, yearning lines, and efficient use of space… Lama is a band that imparts a signature voice due to an abundance of persuasive concepts and alternating frameworks” Glenn Astarita, Ejazz
“Terrifically enchanting trio. Dissonance and electronics and jazz for an album that’s sometimes amusing, sometimes hypnotic, and never dull. On the Clean Feed label, who is one of the strongest labels for modern jazz.” AAJ
“It comes from Portugal and in the wake of Bill Dixon and Rob Mazurek is by noting that one of the most fresh and interesting new European scene. Lama is the trio of Portugal Susana Santos Silva, and “Oneiros”, published (needless to say) from the Clean Feed , is a disc not to be missed.” AAJ Italy
SSS-Q “Songs From My Backyard” | All Reviews here
“Trumpet and drums duo , a remarkable record signed by two of the most interesting national improvisers.
If we think of a trumpet and drums duo hardly imagine a sound universe as varied and complete as the one which appears on Songs From My Backyard. (…) the diversity and depth of the record is made by the expressiveness that Santos Silva and Queijo get out of the trumpet and drums. Already in the beginning, in Afre, a song marked by the elegant african rhythm of Queijo, Susana Santos Silva comes up with a clear and deep timbre and a phrasing that evokes great masters such as Lester Bowie or Bill Dixon, confirming her as a serious case of national jazz. The trumpeter (…) has made a remarkable journey, reaching an increasingly deserved international visibility. In the second song of the album, Monstro das Bolachas, the environment alters completely. Queijo explores various harmonics and timbres of the cymbals, and Santos Silva phrases slowly and quietly, using the mute and avoiding, notably, any kind of cliché. After Water Pipe, a song that works more as a transition environment, based on extended techniques of both instruments, comes one of the album’s highlights, Festa na Aldeia. In a celebratory tone, trumpet and drums alternate moments of explosion, rhythmic and harmonic, with contained passages where Santos Silva phrases with vulnerability and delicacy. In an LP of short songs, marked by an intense musical communication, enormous creativity and an aesthetic vision that puts both on the level of some of the more interesting free music of today, still emphasis for Elefantes A Acasalar, Fucking Ballad and Asphyxia. A clear sign of the huge evolution and transformation of national music” Rodrigo Amado | Ípsilon, Público
“There is something about the frank innocence of the artwork that is also present in the music. No backdrop, no unnecessary ornaments, just straightforward music, candid, honest and pure. By having stripped the line-up to a minimum, Susana Santos Silva on trumpet, flugelhorn and flute and Jorge Queijo on percussion and flute, there is nothing left but the essence of music, something straight from the heart, joyful or in pain or in fear, or distress, or even of a more even nature, yet the rendering is always raw and physical (…)
Each piece is a short burst of energy and tension, the expression of a mood, an image, a thought … nothing more. Yet the quality of her approach is that it cuts right through all the superfluous, straight to the essence.
It’s still somewhat an exercise in stylistic development, yet the character, the voice, the sound are all there. You can only wish she keeps digging deeper. There is gold to be found in her backyard.” Stef Gijssels | Free Jazz Blog
“This duo enjoys exploring sounds. They experiment in molding and mutating as these sounds arrive, without any conceptions. Every note is valid and relevant. Santos and Queijo dance with all sounds to connect intuitively and playfully through old, new and otherworldly sounds. All thirteen duets are concise and emphasize immediate, intimate and organic interplay.
No matter where these imaginative musicians may turn, any sonic output of Santos and Queijo is guaranteed to keep the listener’s full attention.” Eyal Hareuveni | AAJ
Susana Santos Silva Quintet “Devil’s Dress” | All Reviews here
“There’s always that moment… when you realize you’ve just been blown away by some talented shit. That’s the moment I had after being pierced by Susana Santos Silva and her hour long epic debut, Devil’s Dress.” Stephan Moore | Read more at JazzWrap
“With her impressive 2011 debut as a leader “Devil’s Dress” and involvement in various European projects, highly-educated trumpeter Susana Santos Silva looms as a nascent voice within progressive-jazz circles” Glenn Astarita | EjazzNews
“The debut album for Susana Santos Silva‘s quintet was one of the more exciting developments of 2011. Devil’s Dress is an exhilarating fusion of jazz and indie rock, replete with twisting melodies, surging guitar licks, percussion that seamlessly alternates between jazz and rock rhythms within the space of one tune, and just a fun vibe that brings out both the joy of jazz and the bop of rock. Santos’s sound on trumpet is so warm, even when she’s warping a melody into some indescribable shape. I’ve been listening to this album since it came out in April”
Read more at Bird is the Worm
“Silva’s quintet has proven itself among the ranks of adventurous modern jazz” Daniel Lehner | Read more at AAJ
“Her tone can be buttery or bold, a rare combination for a trumpeter, and she isn’t afraid to experiment with smeared notes and out-of-focus tones, which give the music a more personal sound” Dan Bilawsky | Read more at AAJ
“She steps out into the limelight with her debut recording, the original and adventurous but always engaging “Devil’s Dress”
D.Macclenaghan | Read more at AAJ