Reviews Eudaimonia

Un exemple valable de quartet de free improvised free-jazz(avec quand même / peut être une idée de plan au départ). Free jazz car il s’agit d’un quartet sax alto – Jose Lencastre, piano – Rodrigo Pinheiro, contrebasse – Hernani Faustino, batterie – Joao Lencastre, tous portugais et excellemment soudés comme se doit de l’être une basse et une batterie, le piano avec le tandem basse-batterie et le sax alto qui s’envole par-dessus. Free improvised d’une certaine manière, car il n’y a pas de compositions et de thèmes reconnaissables, peut-être une vague idée de développement. Les quatre instruments sont joués en assumant leur fonctionnalité respective dans un tel quartet jazz dans le cadre d’une très grande liberté. Une forme de hiérarchie secouée par les libertés du jeu individuel et collectif. Sons et pulsations plutôt que structures rythmiques, moments en apesanteur où la basse marque une forme de temps libre et où le piano propose une improvisation lyrique marquée par la lingua franca du jazz contemporain et le batteur mouvant les balais et ensuite les baguettes de plus en plus vivement jusqu’à la fin du solo du pianiste. C’est à ce moment là qu’intervient le saxophoniste qui assez vite emporte le quartet dans un maëlstrom en sautant et rebondissant dans les intervalles et les aigus déchirants encouragés par la batterie hyperactive, les tournoiements méthodiques de Pineiro sur le clavier et les doigtés puissants de Faustino, une solide pointure. L’intérêt de ce quartet énergétique (leur précédent album  était plus contenu niveau énergie) repose sur la cohérence de leurs improvisations collectives. Les pointus en jazz de ces quarante dernières années trouveraient que le batteur pêche peut-être par la précision, malgré la profusion de son jeu surtout aux cymbales et le fait qu’il sache faire passer un haut niveau d’énergie avec une belle sensibilité. Pineiro et Hernani sont de très solides musiciens avec un sérieux background musical et un savoir faire imposant. Sous les doigts de Jose Lencastre, les gammes  et les motifs se croisent et se chevauchent dans l’ordre et son inverse avec un esprit ludique et un beau mordant au sax alto. Les fins abruptes de chaque improvisation témoignent de la fine empathie qui règne dans le Nau Quartet. La pochette indique seulement le titre de l’album, mais ne précise pas titres et durées de ces quarante minutes de musique dans laquelle les quatre improvisateurs essaient sincèrement de vivifier avec un beau résultat une formule instrumentale et une démarche habituelle dans l’univers du free jazz – free music.  Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg

____________________________

Após uma impactante estreia – com “Fragments of Always” (2017) –, o Nau Quartet, comandado pelo saxofonista José Lencastre, apresenta seu segundo título. Mantendo a mesma elevada inventividade expressiva de seu antecessor, este novo disco firma o Nau Quartet como um dos projetos mais sólidos e atrativos da cena contemporânea. Ao lado de José Lencastre, o grupo traz alguns dos nomes mais fortes da música criativa de Portugal: Hernani Faustino (baixo), Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano) – os dois, integrantes do genial RED trio – e João Lencastre (bateria). Eudaimonia, o nome do álbum, é uma palavra grega que manifesta certo espírito de felicidade e bem-estar, sendo também lidada à prosperidade. E cada uma das sete faixas é titulada com uma letra (ou sílaba) da palavra, dando uma linha de unidade que nos conduz pela obra. Material fresco, gravado em 7 de abril de 2018 no Timbuku Studio (Lisboa), o álbum começa com “Eu”, a faixa mais extensa com seus 12 minutos, que chega muito delicadamente, pequenos toques esparsos que vão se encorpando com a entrada do sax alto; a densidade ameaça crescer a partir dos 3 minutos, com Faustino ao arco dando outro peso à execução, mas nada que destoe do modo da peça. O tom aumenta mesmo em “Da”, especialmente pelo vigoroso solo de alto de Lencastre. Vemos algo parecido em “I” – e desta vez o solo de sax é ainda mais arisco. Já em “Ni”, nossa atenção se volta mais ao piano. Certa potencialidade free jazzística se mostra mais presente que no álbum anterior do quarteto, mas sem perder o lirismo que marca a música idealizada por Lencastre. São apenas dois álbuns, mas o Nau Quartet já se firma como um dos mais interessantes grupos da atualidade.

Fabricio Vieira 

_____________________________

Featuring Jose Lencastre on alto sax, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, Hernani Faustino on bass and Joao Lencastre on drums. There appears to be an ever-growing scene fro creative music going in Portugal which is being documented by labels like Clean Feed, Craetive Sources, Shhpuma and FMR. The Lencastre brothers, Jose on alto sax and Joao on drums, both have discs out as leaders on other labels like: Auand and Tone of a Pitch. The RED trio, whose members include Rodrigo Pinheiro & Hernani Faustino, are another Portuguese institution with some half dozen discs out on Clean Feed and NoBusiness labels.They’ve worked with both John Butcher, Nate Wooley & Rodrigo Amado on several discs.
This disc was recorded at a studio in Lisbon, Portugal in April of 2018. Considering that the instrumentation here is that of a regular jazz quartet: alto sax, piano, bass & drums, their sound is their own. Commencing with simmering, restraint, building ever so slowly, spacious and filled with suspense. This disc evolves through sections of intensely free-spirited jazz, the momentum building to great waves. Alto saxist, Jose Lencastre, has a sharp, bring tone similar to Thomas Chapin at times, the quartet having a more Trane-like classic avant/jazz sound. Pianist Pinheiro also has an intense tidal wave of sound going on here, with the rhythm team burning powerfully beneath both frontline players. Considering that none of the members of this quartet are very well known, the music here is still incredible, a virtual powerhouse quartet, explosive, riveting, almost too much! FMR Records remains one of the few labels that would release a disc as strong as this one, let’s hope that some of you/us will pick this gem up and be blown away! – Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG

______________________________

This is a fantastic album, and for nearly the past year it has been stuck in rotation on my playlist. Like the Nau Quartet’s 2017 recording, Fragments of Always, Lencastre’s Eudimonia continues in sharing refined and exploratory musical vision with the help of the RED trio’s pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and bassist Hernâni Faustino, as well as the saxophonist’s brother, drummer João Lencastre.
According to the great and all-knowing Wikipedia, the ‘eudaimonia’ “is an abstract noun derived from eu meaning ‘well’ and daimon (daemon), which refers to a minor deity or a guardian spirit. Eudaimonia implies a positive and divine state of being that humanity is able to strive toward and possibly reach.”
So, considering this a well meaning daemon, I think, is quite on point. Track one, “Eu”, begins slowly, like something awakening. Barely audible at first, it rouses slowly and patiently, until the halfway mark, when it suddenly stops and reconsiders its progress. With polyphonic blows from the sax and light sound effects from the others, the group rises from the sonic bed, and led by the exploratory probing by Lancastre, begins shaping the environment.
The next track, “Da” (the tracks spell out the album’s title) begins with the urgent pulsating tempo and through some expert tension building from Pinheiro and Faustino. However, it’s on “I” where the fireworks start. The track in the middle of the album contains a blast of color and sound from the saxophonist and expert support from the group. João Lencastre shines here with an understated impulse. The group pulls back on “Mo”, and the piano is front and center with a melodic swirl. The bass and sax take over, further agitating the swirl, until with the help of percussive accents and driving fills, takes the track to a new energetic high point. The track “Ni” is another flash point. Beginning with the bass, it has elements of classic free jazz and a tuneful center that later lets go for some more brazen explorations. Finally “A” fittingly closes the album with a succinct 3 minute summary of everything that came before. 
So, eudaimonia is something we are dearly in need of these days as the demons of awfulness and brazen cruelty seem to taking over.  If the music on this album could somehow transcend the aural and become the leadership, I know our world would be a much better place.

Paul Acquaro

______________________________

“Eudaimonia” is a new release of “FMR Records”. Album was recorded by “José Lencastre Nau Quartet” – here together play José Lencastre (alto sax), Rodrigo Pinheiro (piano), Hernâni Faustino (bass) and João Lencastre (drums). Four musicians – four absolutely different, charming, bright and original playing styles. Each of them is improvising creatively, passionately and free. Their improvisations always are based on free improvisation, avant-garde and experimental jazz. Musicians are exploring the technical abilities of their instruments – new timbres, bright, weird and outrageous sounds, innovative and experimental playing techniques and dozens of other different playing techniques and musical language’s elements contain the main base of their improvisations. That makes an effort to inspiring, sensible, charming and expressive sound. The music is filled with bright, intensive and dynamic solos, sparkling, blowing and dizzy free improvisations, glamorous and remarkable melodies, variable rhythmic and rich musical language. Their playing styles are usually based on American avant-garde jazz traditions, which are fused together with the newest tendencies of experimental jazz.

“Eudaimonia” is filled with bright, original and contrasting sound. Music has free structure, open form and, just like the other albums by these musicians, is based on the main elements of avant-garde jazz. The newest tendencies of experimental jazz, various streams of modern and contemporary jazz are creatively and suggestively fused together with experimental music and academic avant-garde. This interesting and effective synthesis between various jazz styles and contemporary academical music bring unusual, original and interesting sound to this album. Musicians have their own playing manner, charming and remarkable playing style and unique sound. Bright, free and passionate improvisations contain the main base of the album, but it’s not the only one side of the album. The music is made by contrasts – conceptual episodes which differ from each other in all the matters and sections of musical language. Different rhythms, harmony, eclectic stylistic combinations, colorful musical language, bright and variable musical pattern give the main tune to the sound and dictate the main mood of the compositions. Musicians are improvising very dynamicaly and brightly – their music is a fusion of experimental and traditions ways of playing, dozens of specific, simple and gorgeous expressions, huge range of timbres, sounds and tunes, which make a huge contrast with each other. The music is filled with abstract, subtle, soft, relaxing and free improvisations – it’s based on repetitive melodic and rhythmic intonations, simple chords and pitches, calm and stable tempo and traditionl dynamics. Melodic and rhythmic elements are separated from each other and repeated silmunateously or at the same time – that makes an effort to suggestive, vibrant, bright and passionate sound. These silent and calm episodes have the opposite – passionate, intense, vibrant, extremely loud and turbulent collective improvisations, which have active mood, terrific solos and charming sound. Alto saxophone solos are filled with expressive solos, dynamic rhythms, dozens of unusual sounds and gorgeous timbres, innovative instrumentation’s decisions and whole wide range of musical language elements fused together. Improviser masterfully goes straight to dramatic and turbulent culminations, harsh, sharp, noisy and suggestive blow outs or subtle, calm and relaxing solos. All the elements of musical language make an artsy and bright combination and have its own place in musical pattern. Piano melodies are dynamic and constantly changing – just like saxophone, piano is filled with peaceful and relaxing mood, stable rhythmic, quadratic structure and remarkable solos. This part of the compositions is filled with harsh, unusual and sharp chords, dozens of various tempos, timbres, playing techniques, dynamics and many other elements. Musician have especially suggestive and passionate playing style. Bass improvisations and drum section form stable, monotonic and tremendous rhythmic section and colorful background. Musicians keep firm, suggestive and solid rhythmic section through all the compositions. Unusual and outrageous timbres, bright and evocative solos, turbulent improvisations, innovative and free musical decisions – these and many other elements form the main pattern of this album. Effective vibrato, passionate and extremely rapid passages, other virtuosic elements, expressive and rich musical language, fusion of gentle and playful pizzicatto, short and harsh staccato, luminous and powerful blow outs or bright, evocative and dizzy glissando – these traditional elements of musical language are fused together and joined together by other element’s of musical language. The marvelous and artsy synthesis between different musical labgyage elements, bright, tremendous and terrific improvising make a creative, vibrant, intensive and energetic sound. Avant Scena

_______________________________

This second LP from José Lencastre Nau Quartet confirms a conclusion a lot of us came to after last year’s debut Fragments of Always. The Portuguese ensemble is for real.Featuring José Lencastre on alto saxophone, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, Hernâni Faustino on bass and João Lencastre on drums, the four-piece deliver one riveting listen after another. Their approach to improvisational jazz is refreshingly nuanced. Too often, players in the genre know two speeds: hectic and alarmingly hectic. Nau Quartet members apply their imagination and musicianship to a range of tempos. Sometimes within an individual piece. So even when the listening is easy, as is very much the case on the album’s opener “Eu,” there is still plenty of creative interplay. The more attention you give these six new tracks, the better you’ll appreciate them. That first song title may strike you as a bit cryptic. It’s followed by tracks called “Da,” “I” and so on, spelling out the album’s title Eudaimonia. It’s a Greek word sometimes translated as happiness or welfare; other times as prosperity. A suitable title given the work’s positivity. Their approach to the material expresses not just a degree of expertise (which is plainly there). It communicates a sense of almost limitless possibility, at least in the context of jazz. Lencastre and Co. have the potential to produce important, lasting work. Meantime, they’ve give us another 45 minutes of much-needed inspiration.  Kevin Press

_______________________________

Não. Nada é aleatório. Nada é por acaso.

Quem tem vindo a acompanhar o que escrevo irá perceber que “uma coisa é uma coisa e outra coisa é outra coisa”. Nada é comparável. Posto isto, se és daquelas pessoas que, como eu, não dispensa um bom disco para ouvir nas viagens de comboio então, não te aconselho este! Mas não pares de ler aqui. Atenção! É, sem dúvida, um excelente disco! Mas precisas de ter o volume alto e silêncio em redor para que consigas assimilar todos os pormenores. É para mim um disco de “Inverno”. Daqueles para ouvir no quentinho da sala enquanto bebes um Irish Coffee com a chuva lá fora. Poética a imagem mas foi mesmo assim que este disco me soube bem. Em “Eu” cumpre-se, e bem, o chavão “less is more”. Deixar soar cada nota, de tal forma, que quando acaba ficamos em suspenso. E assim será ao longo do disco. Um crescendo de intensidade e dinâmica. É o início de uma longa caminhada entre baixo, saxofone, piano e bateria. Para quem acha que este jazz é de malta que não se está a ouvir entre si, tentem. Tentem ouvir com os ouvidos todos! Os apontamentos subtis do piano do Rodrigo são pequenos requintes para os nossos ouvidos e a bateria do João é uma agradável surpresa nos momentos mais “explosivos”. Em “I” o José ajuda-me a entrar no tal mundo dos sopros que eu, tantas vezes, tenho dificuldade em digerir. O José entra num diálogo intenso e eu predisponho-me a interpretá-lo. E isso é a essência da Eudaimonia. Já fui de ouvido mouco e teimosa. Já me recusei a aprender a ouvir, de tal forma que há uns anos na loja Trem Azul comentava com o Ricardo (colaborador da Clean Feed) que “não gosto de pifarinhos. A esquizofrenia dos gritos dos sopros irrita-me!”. Quem me ouvia dizer tal barbaridade e se mostrou disponível para conversar e catucar nesta cabeça casmurra foi o trompetista Sei Miguel. Na altura ouvi mas só alguns meses mais tarde comecei a querer, efetivamente, ouvir mais. Ouvir sem ideias preconcebidas. É sempre, a isto, que me predisponho. Mas voltando ao que interessa. Entretanto estamos em “Mo” e respiramos. Respiramos o piano do Rodrigo, a bateria do João e o baixo do Hernâni naquela cadência que só ouvindo irás perceber ao que me refiro. Esse baixo, ouço-o. Sempre lá. Presente e marcante. “Ni” é A malha! São nove minutos de perfeito entendimento. É claro que sou suspeita porque o baixo do Hernâni é, inquestionavelmente, música para os meus ouvidos. Fecham em “A” um disco bem conseguido, com músicos conhecidos destas andanças e que, neste quarteto, dão o que de melhor têm: técnica, sensibilidade e entrega. Sem dúvida, que esta Eudaimonia alcançou a sua plenitude. É a satisfação que surge do nosso crescimento cognitivo e emocional. O nome certo para este disco! (Diz)sonâncias

______________________________

O que desde logo se evidencia neste segundo tomo do percurso do Nau Quartet de José Lencastre é a atitude. O grupo do saxofonista alto atira-se para a frente, resolutamente, arriscando sem medos. É afirmativo, exclamativo. Não há rascunhos ou sugestões de ideias e sim práxis, operacionalidade, “statement”. “Eudaimonia”, o título do álbum, é a palavra grega para “felicidade”, e disso se trata. Longe vão os dias em que o jazz e a improvisação nacionais eram tentativos e envergonhados. Mas se esta primeira impressão nos chega pelo imediatismo do estado de espírito do grupo, o que vem com ela faz-se com imensas nuances. Os processos são os da música integralmente improvisada, mas o formato é explicitamente o do jazz. Em outros casos, regra geral isso acontece em contexto de retorno da livre-improvisação à matriz do free jazz, mas se o que ouvimos é, de facto, um jazz de formas abertas e estruturas mutantes, os materiais utilizados vão picar o vocabulário de várias tendências e épocas do jazz, tão sistematicamente que, se o enquadramento é sem dúvida o do free, os conteúdos transcendem este estilo.

Lencastre tem com ele músicos conhecidos pela amplitude das gramáticas a que recorrem, e se dois, Rodrigo Pinheiro e Hernâni Faustino, 2/3 do Red Trio, têm percurso precisamente na improvisação livre e no free jazz, o baterista, João Lencastre (irmão de José), é um dos mais importantes nomes do jazz português (se bem que nos seus projectos pessoais incorpore elementos de outras proveniências geográficas, sobretudo norte-americanos) que habitualmente é conotado como “mainstream”. Depressa fica evidente que as teias rítmicas de João, sempre eficazmente acabadas pelo contrabaixo de Faustino, não são as da vulgata free jazz, mas curiosamente é o piano de Pinheiro o instrumento que mais define o espírito de síntese que caracteriza esta música – nele encontramos pequenos ou grandes pormenores que, além de nos remeterem para Thelonious Monk e Cecil Taylor, figuras que deixaram marcas no ADN do pianista, ecoam algo de Andrew Hill, Lennie Tristano, Paul Bley e inclusive, coisa que não julgaríamos possível, de Keith Jarrett. São raras as ocasiões em que a pujança de uma situação musical contenha tal nível de elegância, mas aqui essa dualidade é uma característica fundamental. Esse tom começa, de qualquer modo, por ser dado pelo próprio José Lencastre: o “vanguardismo” saxofonístico deste tem sempre a bitola de um lirismo mais relacionado com o cool jazz de Paul Desmond e Lee Konitz do que com o free jazz tocado em sax alto. Seja nas passagens de maior intensidade como naquelas em que troca o fraseio narrativo por construções geométricas, o líder do Nau Quartet surge como um poeta do som, nunca como um “shouter”, e é essa particularidade que o distingue. 

Rui Eduardo Paes 

_______________________________

Schegge appuntite spuntano da una matrice comune: una drusa di quarzo che, solo quando vista da lontano e nel suo insieme, appare di una bellezza misteriosa e irresistibile. La musica del José Lencastre Nau Quartet suscita immagini del genere. Sassofonista contralto, in questo Eudaimonia Lencastre si fa accompagnare dal meglio che il jazz portoghese più avventuroso possa offrire oggigiorno: due terzi del Red Trio (Rodrigo Pinheiro al pianoforte e Hernâni Faustino al contrabasso) e il fratello João Lencastre alla batteria (ascoltate il suo What Is This All About? uscito nel 2014 sulla pugliese Auand: lì al contralto c’è David Binney). Si tratta, in pratica, della stessa formazione ascoltata lo scorso anno nel debutto Fragments Of Always.

 Come Fragments Of Always, Eudaimonia esce per un’etichetta di rispetto come la FMR e, sempre al pari di quello, sa essere un disco sfuggente e obliquo, avvolgente ma complicato, in bilico tra il rigore dell’improvvisazione libera europea e una tensione spirituale che, semplicemente, ci coglie di sorpresa. A conti fatti, dalla sillabazione del titolo dell’album Lencastre e soci ottengono sei brani di una musica ferina che allo stesso tempo sa volare a mezz’aria, librando lì dove l’accidentalità e gli spigoli del sax (a volte memori del Tim Berne più inviperito e grottesco) convivono con le note in libertà di un pianoforte inclinato e tentacolare. Tutto procede a suon di ascesi momentanee; sono frammenti di un tempo continuo, o di una sola materia: in realtà vittime di una furia centrifuga che potrebbe mettere a dura prova qualsiasi buon discepolo del free jazz più incendiario e inamovibile. C’è un solo ma importante appunto da fare: sarà che questa volta la bilancia tra passione e intelletto pende un po’ troppo verso il secondo, ma Eudaimonia, così matematico e dirompente, suona leggermente meno riuscito del suo predecessore, distante da quella drammaticità di fondo che non mancava di emozionare e che qui emerge solo a sprazzi.  Davide Ingrosso 

__________________________________

Niet lang na Fragments Of Always (2017) kwam altsaxofonist José Lencastre op de proppen met Eudaimonia, het tweede album van zijn Nau Quartet. Net als op het vorige album hoor je bevlogen interactie die non-idiomatische improvisatie naadloos koppelt aan de woeligheid van de freejazz. Beheersing en tumult in een hecht verbond.

Lencastre is nog niet zo sterk tot in deze contreien doorgedrongen als landgenoten als Rodrigo Amado en Luís Vicente, maar het heeft er alles van dat het gewoon een kwestie van tijd is. De man ontpopte zich de voorbije jaren immers tot een sterk improvisator op een aantal releases bij het lokale Creative Sources, maar nu ook voor de tweede keer op het Britse FMR Records, dat eerder ook al werk uitbracht van Kabas & Vicente, Clocks And Clouds, Frame Trio, In Layers en Pedra Contida, en zo een van de kanalen werd waarmee de hedendaagse Portugese improvisatieliga aan z’n gestage opmars werkt.

Binnen het Nau Quartet omringt de saxofonist zich ook met een paar kleppers: pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro en bassist Hernâni Faustino zijn vermoedelijk het meest bekend als 2/3de van het befaamde RED Trio, en achter de drumkit zit broer João Lencastre, van o.m. Communion 3No Project Trio, en recent nog een live trio met Amado en Faustino. Kortom: kerels die het ene moment volop in een vrij geluid duiken, maar ook eensgezind kunnen uithalen met kracht en focus. Het kwam zowel het stilistische bereik als de dynamiek van Eudaimonia (dat betekent zoiets als “voorspoed”) enorm ten goede, want hoewel het album start in een serene terughoudendheid, verkent het ook sterk contrasterende temperamenten.

Het is fraai hoe opener “Eu” zachtjesaan tot leven komt, met sobere pianoaanslagen (en zéér subtiel gebruik van een EBow?), en een gestreken bas, altsax en ritselend drumstel die zich amper merkbaar erbij voegen vanuit de achtergrond. Het is een schuifelbeweging van roterende klanken en aangehouden ademstoten, een Spartaanse uitvoering van minimale ideeën die gaandeweg meer reliëf krijgt, overgaat in gedempte, maar onwennige effecten, grotere intervallen en een sterkere densiteit. Er komt spiergebruik aan te pas, maar dit is vooral een staaltje van controle en fijnmazig weefwerk. Een mooi contrast met “Da”, dat al net zo beheerst op gang komt, maar al sneller een rechtlijniger en meer repetitieve koers volgt. Hier zijn percussie (ook op piano en bas) belangrijker, verleent de leider de sax een zangerige, haast menselijke klankkleur, en wordt er toegewerkt naar een donkerder zone, even dromerig als ritualistisch, om uiteindelijk te belanden bij een op zich heen slaande climax die meer heeft met spiritueel geladen freejazz.

Met de vier resterende stukken wordt de speelzone nog wat verbreed, met “I” dat aanvankelijk meer rondhangt in kamermuziekzone, om van daaruit, met een hoekige draaiende ritmesectie, te belanden bij een gepijnigde solo van de sacofonist die voorbereid op een storm die relatief snel weer gaat liggen. In “Mo” wordt ook een web van bewegingen opgezocht, maar daar is Pinheiro minstens even dominant als de leider, met snelle loopjes, snedige jazzaccenten en dwarse uitvallen, terwijl Faustino en João Lencastre blijven zorgen voor een bewegende onderstroom, die aanhoudt tot het beknopte “A” met z’n explosieve salvo’s. Zo krijg je een album dat start met een zoekende openheid én afrondt met een hechte knal. Het is meteen ook de grote troef van het kwartet, dat een bijzonder evenwicht in stand houdt van schwung en onvoorspelbaarheid. Liefhebbers van de zone waar die twee elkaar ontmoeten weten wat te doen. Guy Peters

_______________________________

Led by saxophonist José Lencastre, Nau Quartet featured João Lencastre on drums, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano and Hernâni Faustino on double bass. The Lisbon group’s 2017 debut “Fragment of Always” achieved a fine balance of impressionist improv and tightly coiled free jazz, and on “Eudaimonia” those elements coalesce into rich colours and bold shapes. Based around lowing tenor, arco bass harmonics and lucent piano, the first piece is gorgeously atmospheric. Forms slowly come into view, never fully revealing themselves. The music’s modernist architecture comes through on the second track, with Pinheiro´s morse code piano figures ushering in a jazz based improvisation of shimmering intensity. The pianist brings a classically informed elegance and harmonic expansiveness that works beautifully alongside Lencastre’s gutsy yet spacious drumming and the leader’s controlled alto fire. Stewart Smith, Wire

_________________________________

«Eudaimonia» is an old Greek word for happiness and if translated literally means: human flourishing or prosperity. It is also the title of the sophomore album of Portuguese Nau quartet led by alto sax José Lencastre, following the acclaimed «Fragments of Always» (FMR, 2017). This free-jazz quartet features two-thirds of the local RED Trio – pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro and bass player Hernâni Faustino – plus drummer João Lencastre.

«Eudaimonia», like half of the debut album, is built as a six-parts suite, titled after syllables of the ancient Greek word, and captured in studio on April 2018, 16 months after the recording of the debut album in the same studio. Nau Quartet suggests a highly personal formula of European free jazz, focusing on open structures that develops organically. The expanded rhythm section often opts for a fast and muscular tone, eager to take risks and explore more and more confrontational aspects of a restless interplay. But the leader Lencastre flies above, navigating the quartet with quiet, nuanced gestures and offering a lyrical, round tone that counteracts the dense and thorny one of Pinheiro, Faustino and drummer Lencastre.

The quartet manages to keep this kind of interplay in a reserved and well-balanced form on the opening, longest piece «Eu», but already on the second piece «Da», Lencastre and the rhythm section are riding head-on for a series of intense collisions. Lencastre sounds as playing ‘Inside’, following a powerful yet very clear narrative that marks where the quartet would flow while the other musicians are playing ‘outside’, pushing for a chaotic, nervous interplay. But throughout these ongoing collisions both sides read and respond to each other. Lencastre shout on the coda of «Da», as well as his passionate, singing, Ornette Coleman-ish tone on the following «I», «Mo» and «Ni», stress clearly the destinations and the dynamics of these pieces. The last piece «A» is a fast and playful chasing game between Lencastre and the rhythm section. Furthermore. «Eudaimonia» captures beautifully José Lencastre wise leadership and his strong personal voice. Lencastre acts like an enlightened leader we all wish we would have in our governments. A leader who trusts his comrades, with no need to assert his dominant power with aggressive, sonic stunts. A leader who has no need for a big, loud stick, just a passionate, poetic voice. Eyal Hareuveni

_________________________________

Eudaimonia est un terme grec qui signifie béatitude et dont la doctrine philosophique afférente, l’eudémonisme, associe recherche du bonheur et moralité. C’est aussi le titre du deuxième album du Nau Quartet emmené par le saxophoniste alto José Lencastre et dans lequel figurent dans le rôle des « modernes », outre le leader, son frère João Lencastre à la batterie (auteur, chez Clean Feed, d’un remarqué Movements in Freedom avec son trio Communion 3) et dans celui des « anciens », deux piliers de la scène improvisée portugaise, le pianiste Rodrigo Pinheiro et le contrebassiste Hernâni Faustino (soit deux des trois sommets du Red Trio qu’ils forment en compagnie du fabuleux batteur Gabriel Ferrandini). Le décor est planté.

Eudaimonia s’apparente à une suite de six morceaux dont chacun des titres est une syllabe du mot grec (soit Eu-Da-I-Mo-Ni-A). On pourrait n’y entendre qu’un magma informe, un maelstrom foutraque et répétitif où la nuance n’est pas de mise. C’est bien le contraire qui se produit à l’écoute fine de l’album. Mille teintes, mille couleurs, mille variations sont à l’œuvre. Frottements, feulements, chuchotis. Tout s’imbrique et s’entremêle. L’alchimie opère entre la basse puissante et tellurique de Faustino, les tourbillons de notes de Pinheiro, les frappes à la fois sèches et légères de Lencastre frère et les fulgurantes incandescences du leader. Comme en équilibre sur le fil d’une crête, les quatre musiciens nous embarquent dans un périple d’une quarantaine de minutes, dont on ressort secoué mais heureux. Julien Aunos

_______________________________________

Dette er andre gang jeg får gleden av å hygge meg sammen med den portugisiske altsaksofonisten José Lencastre. Han og kvartetten hans sparer seg ikke denne gangen heller.

Jeg er med andre ord bedre forberedt enn sist. Da hadde jeg nemlig aldri hørt om verken Lencastre eller musikken hans. Nå viderefører han den sammen med bassisten Hernani Faustino, broren João Lencastre på trommer og Rodrigo Pinheiro på piano.

»Fragments of Always» het kvartettens visittkort fra 2017. Den fortalte oss om en frihetssøkende og åpen tilnærmingsmåte til det å skape musikk. Forbindelseslinjene til både amerikansk og europeisk frijazz fra 60-tallet og fremover var tydelige og slik er det fortsatt.

Akkurat de samme er med denne gangen og det er tydelig at de kan hverandre ut og inn og at de har ønska å videreføre den musikalske ideologien fra forrige runde.

Sjøl om musikk er åpen og løs – alt er kollektivt unnfanga – så er det en klar struktur og innebygd dynamikk i det de formidler. Her er det fire langt framskredne lyttere som setter hverandre stevne og jeg er spesielt imponert over det dynamiske uttrykket og den organiske framveksten av låtene.

Melodisk frijazz er ofte en sjølmotsigelse, men her er det absolutt antydninger til slike utflukter også. Uansett hva og hvordan det låter så har «Eudaimonia» blitt nok et fint møte med José Lencastre Nau Quartet og portugisisk jazz.

PS Dessuten synes jeg Trump bør avsettes så snart som mulig. Tor Hammero