Reviews – North And The Red Stream

On their fifth album, Swedish vibraphonist Mattias Ståhl joins the Portuguese RED trio as a guest. He’s the latest in a sequence which includes alliances with saxophonist John Butcher and trumpeter Nate Wooley on disc, and reedman Ken Vandermark in performance. The product, North And The Red Stream, comprises three collective improvisations recorded at the VDU Jazz Festival in the Lithuanian city of Kaunas in 2013. Each arises from an impromptu give and take, negotiated on the fly, as the principals continue to exercise the democratic ethos which has served them so well to date.

Unsurprisingly the integration of the Swede serves to emphasize the percussive aspect of the outfit. As always with such freeform activity, well-balanced tonal placement is key, and the four prove accomplished practitioners. Perhaps it’s the similarity between the vibes and prepared piano that results in pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro spending more time on the keys rather than under the bonnet. Gabriel Ferrandini reaffirms his place among the cream of European drummers (though he was actually born in the US) eliciting a clattering momentum formed by bursts from different parts of his kit. He displays a particular talent for atmospheric sound sculpture derived from cymbal scrapes and squeals.

Bassist Hernani Faustino adds a surefooted undertow, whether through a throbbing pizzicato or abrasive arco swipes. Ståhl draws a stunning range of expression from an instrument that can seem one dimensional in lesser hands. He accentuates the vibes metallic nature on “North” by reducing the sustain to almost zero, while elsewhere he takes the opposite tack by extending the sustain so that they resemble a synth or electric piano with a wah wah quality. His reiterated motifs and ringing glissandos provide a structural element which blends well with the resonance emanating from Pinheiro’s dampened piano strings.

Pinheiro shows himself at his most demonstrative at the start of “North,” working in squalls of notes. He moves through swelling crescendos, angular comping and insistent tremolos. Several passages of artfully combined textures derived from hammered piano, cymbals and rattling vibes, such as that around the 10-minute mark in the same piece, show recognition of a fertile gambit. Masterful interplay, notable for Faustino’s knotty flurries, builds tension on “Stream” before winding down to first a swirling stasis, then silence. While the set explores a more restricted sound world with less contrasting voices than previous collaborations, it nonetheless possesses ample charms and will appeal to anyone who enjoys the klangfarbenmelodie of tuned percussion. John Sharpe http://www.allaboutjazz.com/north-and-the-red-stream-red-trio-nobusiness-records-review-by-john-sharpe.php#.VG9dhijWqSG

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The world of free avant music, sometimes called “free jazz,” continually evolves and permutes so that a simple classification of style sets doesn’t always serve to clarify. Potentially every configuration of players occupies its own world, though of course that is never entirely true, since both the past and the present influence every soloist and ensemble in some way.
But nonetheless the idea that every moment of music-making is potentially open to any expression allows at least theoretically for anything to develop. The feeling of open creativity in spontaneity has been very present in the best senses with the RED trio, a worthy gathering of pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro, contrabassist Hernani Faustino and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini. On their latest recorded outing they add vibist Mattias Stahl. With his presence there is a four-way dynamic that shows both continuity and change; his inclusion is a factor that gives the group dynamic another melodic-harmonic voice that brings a freshened set of spontaneous sounds to bear.

All this on the CD North and the Red Stream (No Business NBCD 69). It was recorded live at the VDU Jazz Festival Kaunas late in 2013. And no doubt the live gig gave them some additional inspiration because they are all locked into good things throughout.

Both the pianist and the vibist have in jazz and subsequent avant music been historically faced with dual poles of consideration. Both instruments, at least in their maturity, have the capability of creating self-sufficient harmonic-melodic worlds, yet of course in a group context and as influenced by the development of the music there has been the pull to create horn-like lines. Earl Hines was one of the more overt of the early exponents of the horn-style of soloing, but of course he never abandoned the two-handed harmonic pianism that came naturally to those who study the instrument. With the history of vibes playing it was later Red Norvo and of course Milt Jackson who did more to integrate that pianistic harmonic conception into the vibe approach. Since then both instruments variously gravitated between lining and harmonizing as the music evolved and changed.

I bring this up because Pinheiro and Stahl do a great job on this set travelling in and out from a harmonic to a lining approach. In a free context where there are implied key centers but lots of freedom of choice, the two players work especially well together in choosing lines and harmonic voicings. And by so doing you get a distinct kind of spontaneous fullness that Hernani on bass responds to rather brilliantly and Gabriel absorbs and in turn sets up various inventive pitched and unpitched washes of percussion.

And that is to say that the group sound as a four-fold voice is especially prominent and innovatively interesting on this set. That is not to say that there aren’t solos here. But the solos are quite often integrated into four-way dialogue where everyone adds to the solo for a very creative ensemble sound.

These are four very talented creative souls and the freedom they espouse is extraordinarily well developed on this set. It is a set that sustains interest from start to finish. There are no tentative sounding harrumphs, no momentary fumblings for direction. They know what they are about and they go there, directly, and stay there.

And the vibes-piano tandem works especially well. That’s because they, and really all four are listening–but complementing more so than simply responding to each other.

It’s a very, very good outing that all interested in the free zone should hear. Grego Applegate Edwards

http://gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.pt/2015/01/red-trio-mattias-stahl-north-and-red.html

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É triste que músicos falem assim de músicos, mas o ressabiamento já se tornou habitual. O RED Trio obteve um invulgar sucesso fora de Portugal, e isso tocando uma música improvisada de matriz jazz. Em reacção, alguns músicos de jazz nacionais que não são ouvidos no estrangeiro e apenas têm o reconhecimento do seu mais próximo círculo de amigos vêm, volta e meia, a terreiro bradar que Rodrigo Pinheiro, Hernâni Faustino e Gabriel Ferrandini não sabem tocar.

Repare-se que o argumento já não é o de que não tocam jazz, que era o que habitualmente acontecia quando alguém se atrevia a desviar-se da norma –vão mais longe e insultam a qualidade , a capacidade, o juízo do grupo.

A mesma qualidade que tem merecido o rasgado elogio dos mais importantes críticos do mundo e que tem levado o RED Trio a ser frequentemente convidado a actuar em palcos internacionais com convidados com a craveira de John Butcher, Jason Stein e outros. Estou curioso em saber o que dirão agora esses frustrados músicos se ouvirem – porque o mais provável é que nunca tenham escutado com atenção as edições anteriores – este “North and the Red Stream”, com os portugueses a terem, desta vez, a colaboração do vibrafonista Mattias Stahl, que já por cá esteve num duo com Sten Sandell. Ser-lhes-á possível contestar o brilhantismo, a excelência, deste disco sem que percam totalmente a credibilidade?

Pois, é que está aqui, ainda quente das máquinas, o melhor álbum que o projecto já lançou. A música tem tudo o que precisa para nos entusiasmar: ora é detalhística e introspectiva, ora ganha intensidade e voo, que é o que se pede à improvisação que providencie. Ou vão continuar os velhos do Restelo com as tontices da «ditadura do free jazz» e com o argumento de que o único free respeitável é o harmolódico, sendo tudo o resto «cada um a tocar para o seu lado»? Quando a inveja se soma à ignorância, à estupidez e à má-fé, sofrem os ouvidos. Rui Eduardo Paes Jazz.pt http://www.jazz.pt/ponto-escuta/2014/09/16/red-trio-mattias-stahl-north-and-red-stream-nobusiness/

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RED trio är en lite annorlunda pianotrio. Portugiserna Rodrigo Pinheiro, Hernani Faustino och Gabriel Ferrandini spelar modern musik som trio men har också fattat tycke för samarbeten, alltså ett ganska klassiskt grepp där en rytmsektion kunde kompa ett stor antal solister. Nytt möter gammalt. I RED trios fall handlar det naturligtvis inte om komp och solist per se utan mer om kombinationen tryggheten i en sammansvetsad enhet och spänningen i en gäst. 2011 släpptes ett samarbete med saxofonisten John Butcher (NoBusiness), 2012 var gästen trumpetaren Nate Wooley (Clean Feed) och nu 2014 är det svenske Mattias Ståhl och hans vibrafon som på live-skivan Red and the North Stream bjudits in i trions lilla värld.

Musiken är i grunden lugn. Det vilar något harmoniskt över den, även när det hettar till och blir lite stökigare. Det är fritt men inte helt uppåt väggarna. Instrumenten spelas konventionellt, det handlar inte om ljudskapande eller främmandegörande utan snarare om att låta instrumenten och musiken tala ett klart språk i form av toner, harmonier, melodier och rytmer. Vibrafonen bidrar med en svävande känsla och Ståhl visar hur vackert en vibra verkligen kan låta. Teknisk skicklighet, snabbhet, styrka, allt sådant är sekundärt. Fokus ligger istället på musikalitet, självsäkerhet och finkänslighet. Det finns även en stor spänning, men en behärskad sådan. Samspelet är fint, en höjdpunkt är de magiska första tre minuterna på andraspåret ”Red” då vibran och pianot gifter sig till högfrekventa glädjerop, och allt bus i mitten på sistaspåret ”Stream”.

Det finns en sak till att lyfta fram: den unge trummisen Gabriel Ferrandini. Ett fenomen. Förutom med RED trio kan han höras i Rodrigo Amados Motion trio och Wire Quartet samt Nobuyasu Furuyas trio och kvartett. Det är svårt att hitta ord för hur bra han är. Vilken touch, vilken känsla, vilket sound! Han spelar ganska enkelt, men ack så balanserat och smakfullt. Hans trumspel ger mig rysningar gång på gång. Joacim Nyberg http://www.soundofmusic.nu/recension/nobusiness-records-x2

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Taped last year in Kaunas, North And The Red Stream is much less immediate, but its pointillist piano and vibraphone constructions reward careful listening. Stahl resists the vibraphone’s familiar cool shimmer for a collection of metallic staccato tones and percussive strikes. Rodrigo Pinheiro’s piano goes from fast, prickly clusters to passages of near silence, an approach reflected in Gabriel Ferrandini’s forensic drum deconstructions and Hernani Faustino’s slivers of bowed bass. The group’s democratic exchanges and heightened sense of dynamics and space make for a compelling set of abstract improvisation. Stewart Smith  http://thequietus.com/articles/16682-jazz-reviews-efg-london-jazz-festival-2

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O RED trio de Rodrigo Pinheiro, Hernâni Faustino e Gabriel Ferrandini tem desenvolvido um interessante e raro percurso internacional. Além de dois discos gravados como simples trio, editou ainda dois álbuns com convidados estrangeiros: Empire (com John Butcher, em 2011) e Stem (com Nate Wooley, em 2012). O trio regressa agora ao formato 3+1, sendo desta vez convidado o vibrafonista sueco Mattias Ståhl, numa edição da label lituana No Business. Entre a bateria de Ferrandini, o contrabaixo de Faustino e o piano de Pinheiro há uma empatia permanente. No diálogo com o piano que abre o álbum, o vibrafone de Ståhl mostra desde logo uma boa integração no espírito do grupo. O RED Trio não abandona as suas características habituais: contenção, diálogo, tensão e explosão. A criatividade da exploração instrumental é também fundamental, para uma música que surpreende de forma contínua, nas ligações que se vão desenvolvendo e entrelaçando de forma natural. Nuno Catarino   http://www.publico.pt/culturaipsilon/noticia/improvisacao-sem-fronteiras-1676147

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Na Rebento van het naakte trio, was het natuurlijk weer uitkijken naar de nieuwste gast, en dat was vibrafonist Mattias Ståhl, een Zweed die er ook al een behoorlijk parcours op heeft zitten en in deze contreien vooral opviel met Angles 9. Snel blijkt alleszins dat hij het trio als gegoten zit. De sound is daarbij misschien iets minder excentriek dan met opvallende blazers als Butcher en Wooley, maar de volstrekt unieke stijl van RED Trio staat fier overeind en Ståhl weet die in deze opname uit 2013 boeiend aan te vullen, al is het maar omdat hij een soort van overgangsfiguur is tussen Pinheiro en Ferrandini, zowel in de weer met het melodische en harmonische component, als met het ritmische. Dat zorgt er dan ook voor dat de samenhang soms nog nadrukkelijker in de verf gezet wordt.

En samenhang is waar het om draait bij het RED Trio. Hun improvisatie is soms erg grillig, met een brede dynamiek en behoorlijk sterke extremen, maar recensenten en liefhebbers prijzen de band steeds opnieuw omwille van zijn democratische insteek. Dit is werkelijk een band zonder echte leider, waarbij er eigenlijk amper sprake is van solo’s in de klassieke zin van het woord, en waarbij de communicatie eigenlijk nooit ophoudt. Dat maakt van concerten en albums veeleisende ondernemingen, al is het maar omdat de communicatie zich soms afspeelt op abstract niveau. Zo’n Ferrandini doet dan ook meer dan ritme bepalen. Zoals hij zelf steeds aangeeft, speelt hij vanuit de vraag wat zijn kompanen nodig hebben om een verhaal te kunnen vertellen, waardoor zijn spel voortdurend van wisselt van gedaante, tempo, volume en densiteit. Of het nu gaat om rustige of uitbundige passages: Ferrandini’s spel is zo beweeglijk, steekt zo vol met details, nuances, verschuivende puls en textuurverschuivingen, dat je albums zou kunnen opleggen om vervolgens enkel naar hem te luisteren.

Dat neemt niet weg dat ook hier erg mooie resultaten te vallen zijn. Opener “North” is misschien nog het meest ‘traditioneel’, met meteen een broederlijke verhouding van piano en vibrafoon en een interactie die de band laat opschuiven als een hecht blok. Aanvankelijk aftastend, later steeds assertiever. Pinheiro schakelt ook nu weer moeiteloos over van repetitief, bijna autistisch detailspel naar een meer percussieve of zelfs breedvoerige stijl, terwijl Faustino daar steeds op inspeelt, spiegelt, of de link legt met Ferrandini, die de ruimte én de tijd krijgt om zijn immense controle uit de doeken te doen. Zijn solomoment in het wat abstractere “Red” is vrij van bombast of goedkope effecten, en vooral een manier om de continuïteit in het stuk te houden, alsof er werd gewerkt met een telepathisch gedeelde blauwdruk in de achterhoofden van vier muzikanten. Afsluiter “Stream” zet al helemaal in op het microscopische vermogen van de band, met zinderende metaalklanken die de nadruk op pure klank leggen en pas halverwege het stuk baan ruimen voor een openbarstende weldadigheid die lang tegen het kookpunt aanschurkt.

Guy Peters   http://enola.be/muziek/artikels/25990:the-portuguese-connection-2015-pt-4-red-trio-casa-futuro