Reviews House Full of Colors

Strings play a significant role in Portuguese avant jazz, going back to violinist Carlos “Zíngaro” Alves. Given that legacy, it makes sense for the country’s string practitioners to explore and improvised chamber music free form horns, piano or drums. Enter Elve’s Staub Quartet with cellist Miguel Mira, double bassist Hernâni Faustino and guitarist Marcelo dos Reis. Alves fuses the stringent harmonies of European modernism with gutsy abstract swing. Faustino is a versatile and sensitive player who can stroke the engine in a classic free jazz style, or venture into outer realms of extended technique. Mira has come to prominence in Rodrigo Amado’s Motion Trio, carving out a unique space that makes him far more surrogate. Reis, meanwhile, has been developing a distinctive acoustic guitar language taking in abstracted folk melodies, preparations, and a percussive right hand attack that owes as much to avant rock as it does fado. The album’s concept is based on colour theory, with a particular interest in how light help us perceive the colour and shape of forms. This gives rise to a group language characterised by pellucid pizzicato figures, shadowy bow work, and vivid splashes of melody. That method is clearest, if you’ll forgive the pun, on “Opacity Rings” where bell-like guitar and cello usher in a crisp spring dawn. Faustino’s bass wakes the earth, sending up melodic shoots that are brought to bloom by Alve’s violin. “Knocks Of Light” offers a more agitated sound, with Reis ratting a drumstick against his strings to produce a juddering rhythmic foundation suggestive of a Glenn Branca symphony played on koto and hammer dulcimer. Mira pulls choral accents from his strings, eventually switching to the bow, with wich he conjures wistful folk fragments as a gorgeous counterpoint to Zíngaro’s manic violin and Faustino’s sepulchral groans. Stewart Smith, The Wire Magazine


When listening to and thinking of abstract music, it’s not rare to fall into states of faux synesthesia. Our subconscious selves, faced with a lack of context and fixed familiar forms, surreptitiously take over and translate sounds into images and sensations, creating associations through atmospheres and memories of touch, taste, and smell. Thus the music takes the appearance of films, paintings, and moods, while individual sounds are transformed into still frames, fuzzy brushstrokes, and granules of emotion. In the case of Portuguese STAUB Quartet’s debut record, House Full of Colors, the tables are turned on the listeners as the group shapes the music in an impressionistic manner, their playing mimicking the dispersion of light through prisms, breaking into colors and projecting hidden imaginaria.

The album opens with Miguel Mira’s cello striking gently and followed only by restrained rushes of Hernani Faustino’s double bass. Soon, they are joined by Marcelo dos Reis’ fragmented guitar chords, accentuating rather than dictating, while Carlos “Zingaro” Alves’ violin dances spastically, fleshing out an abstraction of a tuneful melody in the background. “Quiet Arcs” is a bright, vibrant piece with a sense of optimism in its notes and improvised percussion emanating from the bodies of the stringed instruments. In contrast to this calm cut, what follows becomes all the more striking. “Red Curtains” whirls nervously, leaving behind a heavy taste, both material and ethereal, of light filtering through thick, dark drapes. It’s a sparse and deep song that explodes and subsides in waves of cello, violin, and double bass pandemonium, supported by dos Reis’ repetitive, droning guitar plucks.

Comprised of prominent members of the bustling Portuguese free jazz and free improv scene, STAUB Quartet presents music imbued with Mediterranean passion and joviality which is channeled into improvised patterns that are both spontaneous and cleverly thought out. The intro of “Opacity Rings”, the longest piece on the record, is a good example of such an approach. The movement starts muted and quiet, opaque even, in dark overtones, resembling the soundtrack of a Carlos Reygadas movie, encompassing all that lust and grief of life that the Mexican director tries to capture. Carlos Zingaro’s violin bows densely but freely, while counterpointing percussion and bass twangs sit opposite to it, almost stuck in place. Unlike what the title of Reygadas’ masterpiece Stellet Licht suggest, the light here is anything but silent.

The final three pieces, “Knots of Light”, “Resonant Shades”, and “Discrete Auroras” dispel the heaviness brought on by “Opacity Rings”. The musicians chase each other hastily yet patiently, creating structures that are knotted in one moment, forcefully dynamic and bright in the next. “Knots of Light” is markedly aggressive, with the four stringed instruments clashing over each other. Dos Reis’ guitar devises another bulbous but undulating loop, Carlos Zingaro’s violin screams fiercely, while Mira and Faustino find themselves confined in the space between them. With such a musical accompaniment, the idea of tangles of luminous matter exploding and flickering becomes vivid, almost palpable. In contrast, “Resonant Shades” reigns in the chaos brought on by the previous track as dos Reis settles in a liberated role, dominating the track with his playing, simultaneously euphonic and serpentine. “Discrete Auroras” closes the circle with a surprising cyclical melody leading back, through an imaginary connection, to the record’s opening piece.

As expected, the meeting between four forces of the European creative music scene, which Miguel Mira, Carlos Zingaro, Hernani Faustino, and Marcelo dos Reis undoubtedly are, results in a seemingly fragile and volatile—as the light it is inspired by—yet vigorous experience. Permeated by a sense of frolic and obvious camaraderie, House Full of Colors explores the material through the immaterial, lighting everything with its inner luminescence as it fleshes out concepts that we thought were somehow confined to our mental spaces. Antonio Poscic


Put together a sort of “string quartet” of Portuguese free jazz/new improvised music stars Miguel Mira on cello, Carlos “Zingaro” on violin, Hernani Faustino on bass and Marcelo dos Reis on acoustic and prepared guitar, and you get the Staub Quartet. Their debut CD House Full of Colors (JACC Records 33) is so much more than a chance meeting that you sit up and take notice from the first notes onward.
Those who know these four and their freely inventive prowess should not be surprised. Though I am not in the position to keep score, they have all played together in various combinations and surely belong together. There is nothing casual about these improvisers–everything I’ve heard of them has a huge sense of purpose and an advanced open form seriousness that often enough verges on the sublime. So I naturally had lots of expectations when I put this CD on my player.
To say I was not disappointed is to say that all the four can beinventively is very much present here. The whole is the greater for the Staub Quartet formation. Each plays a role and as you listen to the six segments you revel in how the colors and textures of the instruments in the hands of these masters come to create totalities that are consistently near breathtaking and sometimes well beyond that.
There often enough is a kind of gestural complementarity between bass and cello, for reasons that have to do with their potential as rhythm section choices in more conventional jazz, but then both Mira and Faustino can of course function as horns and convincingly so. Or of course both are supreme colorists and find a place when there are two-, three-, or four-way blends of that kind of thing. Make no mistake however, this music channels historic jazz only in the most convoluted and indirect ways. There is a kind of “soul” to it all, but a different kind. And the lining is not naked linearity but collectively simultaneous. So does it sound like Armstrong and Oliver? Well, no, not really! So do not expect that. Do expect the outer fringes of avant jazz and new music to have some relation to what you hear.
Zingaro is a supreme solo line-weaver on violin but he can and does also blend his special ways into the whole. Marcelo transforms his guitar sound (whether prepared or otherwise) into the totality so much so that you have to remind yourself that the fourth line is a guitar line. Sometimes he becomes such a shape-changer that he transcends his instrument to become a pure aural force in the complex mix. Listen once through just for him and you’ll be surprised and enlightened as to what he comes up with.
All four of course form the matrix that makes all the difference on this album. Nobody is the “star;” the various organic growths they nurture in the six segments have a natural yet uncannily “forward” quality that you must hear with focused intent, to expose yourself repeatedly and gradually to get the full appreciation this album demands and deserves.
It is one of the best outings of all four and it is one of the best “fours” in avant music outings today.
You want to know what is new and important ion free improv? This is one for sure! Excellent! Grego Applegate Edwards


Nog zo’n album dat vooral gewaardeerd zal worden door getrainde oren (alhoewel, met de juiste luisterhouding heb je eigenlijk niet eens voorkennis of ervaring nodig), al is dat hier om een andere reden. Krijg je bij het album van het duo hierboven een interactie gepresenteerd die het de luisteraar niet bepaald makkelijk maakt omdat de voor de hand liggende opties meteen terzijde geschoven worden, dan hoor je hier een bezetting met vier instrumenten uit dezelfde familie: viool (Carlos “Zingaro”), cello (Miguel Mira), contrabas (Hernâni Faustino) en akoestische gitaar (Marcelo Dos Reis). Stuk voor stuk uitstekende muzikanten met een eigen geluid en een brede bagage/ervaring, maar zonder het visuele element vraagt het natuurlijk om actief luisteren, de oren spitsen. Tenminste, als het je iets uitmaakt hoe de verhoudingen precies in elkaar zitten, want je kan dit spul natuurlijk ook gewoon over je heen laten komen.

Er zijn wel degelijk grote verschillen, en niet alleen in formaat, tussen deze instrumenten, maar pluk aan de vioolsnaren, en het kan op een gitaar lijken. Gaat de viool in het lage register, dan komt het dicht bij de cello in het hoge. Idem voor de cello vs. de bas, en het wordt al helemaal moeilijk als er strijkstokken aan te pas komen, of als je bvb. te maken krijgt met een cellist als Miguel Mira, die binnen o.m. het Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio speelt alsof hij een bas hanteert. Kortom: iets om de oren bij te spitsen, wat in dit geval geen beproeving hoeft te zijn. De meeste van deze zes stukken hebben een heel eigen karakter en muzikaliteit te over, zonder daarom te moeten mikken op excentrieke effecten en uitblinken in dosering en dynamiek, terwijl ook de albumduur vrij compact gehouden wordt.

Vanaf opener “Quiet Arcs” is het een beetje zoeken, maar zodra je wat hebt kunnen luisteren, de indeling van de instrumenten gevonden hebt (gitaar en bas zitten hier aan de linkerkant van het spectrum, cello en viool rechts), kan je je aandacht vestigen op de statige puls die als een rode draad door het stuk loopt, en op het zacht openvouwende web van patronen dat de vier creëren. Daarin wordt veel gewerkt met herhaling, zodat de solo van “Zingaro” alle ruimte krijgt om er vrij over te zweven. De ideale start, want vanaf “Red Curtains” wordt de dynamiek opgekrikt, neemt het samenspel toen in densiteit, kruipt er meer temperament in de muziek, hoor je hoe cello en viool langs elkaar op spurten en Dos Reis de snaren doet kletsen of manisch op die ene noot blijft hangen. Een stuk met een knoert van een drive, maar zonder dat het gaat verzanden in een onontwarbaar kluwen.

En zo krijg je een mooie slingerbeweging, van meer snelheid en densiteit naar de andere kant van het spectrum, zoals in “Opacity Rings”, waarin maximaal gebruik wordt gemaakt van ruimte (letterlijk, door de vaste puls te scheiden met lange stiltes), waardoor het statig voortschrijden mooi uitgewerkt wordt en de gitaar pas in het tweede luik de kop opsteekt. De verhoudingen blijven op een actieve manier verschuiven, want ook hier is er geen sprake van een duidelijke hiërarchie. Soms merk je een deelfractie op, voel je dat er twee zijn die elkaar als klankbord gebruiken, maar dat is allemaal slechts tijdelijk, steeds onderhevig aan verandering. Het zal voor heel wat nieuwsgierigen wennen zijn, zo’n album zonder blazers, piano of percussie, maar het ontbreekt deze vier niet aan de ideeën, variatie of – de titel zegt het al – kleuren, om van dit album iets moois te maken. Guy Peters–joao-camoes-a-jean-marc-foussat-staub-quartet–lume


As can be seen from the CD sleeve, this album was inspired by Goethe’s “The Treatise on Color (Zur Farbenlehre),” which explores the interaction between polarizing light and darkness, and active colors, which are not simply static, but rather will generate effects on their own; this album is an attempt to create an approximation of such phenomena in sound. The string quartet composed of violin, double bass, cello, and guitar is blessed with the dexterity of each musician’s technique, and in the fragrance and playing arising from their performance, we find the tradition of authentic European-style chamber music is alive. From such quality sounds, we can expect well-seasoned players, and indeed we find some of Portugal’s finest musicians with the multi-talented Carlos Zingaro at the top of the list. As heard in the folksy melodies beyond categories defined in the West, and the several minimal phrases layered one on top of another along with repeated notes, abstract magma is surging forward. The listener is treated to a phase shift of focus meandering like a fetal movement through the gamut of low to high, a colorful sonority showing its face from the space between the afterglows of mingling phrases, and a melody amplified by the doubling of pointillism and line drawing. The pendulum-like swing and feel of noise only found with string instruments, and the moderate length of pieces with titles easily evoking imagery, all add to the appeal of the album. There is a dignified impressive presence underlying the whole work, even in the intensely atmospheric parts, which provides ample proof of the rich career of the performers playing the middle and bass registers. Kayo Fushiya


The musicians who make up the collective known as the Staub Quartet are part of a vital Portuguese improvised music scene and have been featured in many combinations. Hernani Faustino is part of the amazing RED trio, while Miguel Mira is one-third of the Motion Trio with Rodrigo Amado and Gabriel Ferrandini. Marcelo dos Reis is one of the principals of Cipsela Records, which has a small yet distinguished output, including a solo album from Zingaro.
The six tracks comprising House Full of Colors are fully improvised, and I actually approached this with some initial hesitancy. There are a lot of free improv recordings getting released these days, and I find myself with less of an appetite for abstract explorations of timbre and texture, with seeming little interest in forward momentum.
Given the quality of the musicians in the Staub Quartet, I should have expected that they would provide something of value, and they do. The members are adept at moving in one direction and supporting each other, so the music seems to have a composed element to it. dos Reis occasionally introduces repeating figures from his guitar, giving those tracks a unique blend of chamber music with an almost folk influence. There continues to be a lot of quality jazz and jazz-influenced music coming from Portugal, and House Full of Colors is a worthy addition.

Craig Premo 


Not on Creative Sources, but again featuring Mira on cello, is House Full of Colors (recorded September 2015 in Coimbra) on JACC Records. The ensemble, called Staub Quartet, is another “augmented string trio,” with Marcelo dos Reis (who may have initiated the project) on acoustic guitar. Besides Mira, who — in addition to the above — has appeared on such “classical”-style favorites as Earnear, as well as e.g. in the more jazzy Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio, Staub Quartet includes Carlos “Zingaro” on violin & Hernani Faustino on bass. Zingaro is of course something of a legend, participating on Chant, as well as on earlier favorites such as Live at Total Meeting (with two “horns” & percussion, yielding more differentiated colors than these string albums). Faustino is known for a more specifically jazzy style in such ensembles as Red Trio (also with Rodrigo Pinheiro of Earnear), and it shows here: There is often a fairly typical jazz bass, brighter tones from the strings in general, and a more mainstream-oriented sound around ostinato, tremolo, extended tonality, etc. (Such brightness is enhanced, as opposed to the orientation of the previous items in this entry, by eschewing viola & its “middle” emphasis.) House Full of Colors retains something of a “classical” orientation at times, though, via its exploration of harmonic regions & noisy chromaticism, and so has something more in common with Chant than previous items. (It can be heard on the JACC Records Bandcamp site.) Of course, Marcelo dos Reis is part of Open Field String Trio, along with João Camões, and something of a “Spanish” guitar sets the initial tone for House Full of Colors, giving it a bit of a subtle “world music” vibe (not so unlike a Mary Halvorson Quintet album), while also seeming to traverse regions of film noir, etc. I enjoy the ensemble combinations, which sometimes feature soloist & accompaniment, as in a typical jazz performance (or, for that matter, as it’s done here, in a typical classical period string quartet), even if the material itself is a little less adventurous. Particularly with its overlapping set of musicians, House Full of Colors provides yet another glimpse into the dynamics of the improvising string “dynasty” developing in Portugal. I don’t know how widely it will be distributed, but it could bring more of an audience to this format. Todd McComb


“House Full Of Colors” – it’s a new album which has a remarkable and modern sound. Album had been played by “STAUB Qartet”, which members are: Miguel Mira (cello), Carlos “Zingaro” (violin), Hernani Faustino (double bass) and Marcelo Dos Reis (acoustic guitar). Music played by this quartet has different styles, music eleemnts and melodies. The musicians improvising free, creative and expressive. All of them have original and remarkable improvising style, try out new, unheard and novatoric playing techniques. They combined together different and very contrasting music episodes in one composition. The quartet had been released many albums in  the past, most of them are full of surprises, novatoric and unusual combinations of music styles and instruments and musical experiments. Album had been released by “JACC Records”.

Album have 6 compositions. Just like in other albums played by these musicians, compositions in this album have many different music styles combined in one improvisation. Expressive, evocative and powerful sound collective improvisations combine free jazz, creative, avant-garde jazz and Spain, Greece, Italy, other Meditarranean sea countries music intonations and elements. There also heard Arabean music elements – harmony, rhytm and expressive melodies. Musicians also try out many different playing techniques, evocative experiments and their melodies have many stylistic waves, surprises and virtuosic elements. Compositions are full of strange noises, unheard and peculiar sound timbres. Subtle, expressive and contrasted cello, violin and guitar melodies gently combine with double bass which give to compositions static basic of rhytm. Elements of various countries folk music, avant-garde jazz, collective improvisations and variety of playing techniques give this album effective and novatoric sound.


STAUB Quartet es un proyecto cooperativo enraizado en la avanzada de la improvisación acústica que reúne a cuatro referentes de la música creativa portuguesa: el legendario e icónico violinista Carlos “Zíngaro”, el contrabajista Hernani Faustino (RED trio, Clocks and Clouds, Rodrigo Amado Wire Quartet), el cellista Miguel Mira (Earnear, Lisbon String Trio, Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio) y, por supuesto, el guitarrista Marcelo dos Reis.

El imaginario estético ofrecido en el debut discográfico de este cuarteto de notables, encuentra su fuente primaria de inspiración en los conceptos de luz y color. Esa referencia conceptual –cristalizada tanto en el título del álbum como en los nombres de cada una de las piezas que contiene– da impulso a un ideario musical con epicentro en la avanzada de la improvisación acústica y que se orienta a la búsqueda de territorios creativos inexplorados.

Durante su desarrollo, el álbum irá atravesando diferentes climas que aspiran a extrapolar la percepción de los colores y las luces a la música mediante un relato unificado por su carácter invariablemente abstracto, un tratamiento del material espacioso y relajado y por la constante pulsión lúdica que impregna el ejercicio improvisador del cuarteto.

En el devenir de la obra se sucederán los difusos contornos y la introspectiva calma de Quiet Arcs, la perturbadora intensidad que aflora del complejo entramado sonoro expuesto en Red Curtains, el carácter evanescente e inasible de Opacity Rings, los luminosos devaneos sonoros y el enfático dramatismo de Knots of Light, la inquietante belleza onírica de Resonant Shades y las múltiples lecturas que despierta Discrete Auroras.

Las aspiraciones fundacionales expresadas por STAUB Quartet en el álbum House of Colors se concretan de manera sublime por la calidad en las ideas de sus intérpretes y el superlativo nivel de interacción colectiva. Sergio Piccirilli


Calhou que este “House Full of Colors” fosse lançado pouco tempo depois de outro disco dominado por instrumentos de cordas com a participação de Carlos “Zíngaro”, “Chant”. A coincidência serviu ainda mais para salientar as diferenças existentes entre o Staub Quartet e o Nuova Camerata. Se esta última formação tem como mote a invenção de uma outra música de câmara (improvisada, sim, mas na continuidade da tradição escrita), já o projecto perseguido pelo quarteto formado, além do mencionado violinista, por Marcelo dos Reis em guitarra, Miguel Mira no violoncelo e Hernâni Faustino no contrabaixo, sustenta as suas estratégias musicais no envolvimento dos cordofones de arco num tipo de improvisação que, regra geral, privilegia os sopros. As participações do contrabaixista Miguel Leiria Pereira, do violoncelista Ulrich Mitzlaff e de Pedro Carneiro – o maestro da Orquestra de Câmara Portuguesa – na marimba mediaram as conexões clássicas ouvidas em “Chant”, mas agora os nomes de Mira e Faustino indicam-nos que a matriz estará no jazz, o da versão free, e nessa tendência a que Derek Bailey chamou «música não-idiomática», em se tratando deles fazendo prever uma exploração das ambiguidades entre as duas frentes estéticas. E assim é, de facto…

Se, no Nuova Camerata, Carneiro funcionou duplamente como o “joker”, o instrumentista fora do naipe (se bem que tomando a marimba como outra fonte sonora fabricada em madeira), e como o íman da procurada condição de câmara, no Staub Quartet é dos Reis que está simultaneamente fora, por tocar o único instrumento dedilhado, e dentro, por também ele utilizar cordas. O curioso é que é ele, sobretudo, quem introduz padrões rítmicos fixos, por meio de repetições de motivos, agindo como o esqueleto do todo. Ou seja, se o eixo jazz / improv é estilisticamente garantido por Miguel Mira (Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio) e Hernâni Faustino (Red Trio), acaba por ser o guitarrista de Coimbra a fornecer grande parte dos elementos figurativos desta música tendencialmente abstracta. A nível de pulsação, entenda-se, pois as referências eruditas e vagamente “folky” de “Zíngaro” fazem o mesmo do lado melódico, por mais que essas melodias sejam fragmentadas ou distorcidas. Uma coisa é certa: a visceralidade de certas passagens deste CD é indubitavelmente a do free jazz e a da free music. Não a encontramos na “nuova camerata” que por estes dias se vai construindo. Rui Eduardo Paes


Un quartette violon violoncelle contrebasse et guitare acoustique. Six pièces d’une musique de chambre libérée au titres évocateurs : Quiet Arcs, Red Curtains, Opacity Rings, Knots of Light, Resonant Shades, Discrete Auroras. La guitare de Marcelo Dos Reis piquette et active l’ensemble, le jeu sinueux et expressif de Zingaro, unique en son genre, au lyrisme expressif  unique se détache. Échanges en pizzicati sautillants entre violoncelle, contrebasse et guitare engendrant une séquence à l’arraché évoquant un lever de rideau intempestif (Red Curtains), la puissance inouïe du violon surfant sur les ostinati bondissants du violoncelle et de la guitare. Opacity Rings fonctionne au ralenti avec une superbe vocalisation du frottement de l’archet au violon assombrissant l’atmosphère. La contrebasse crée un effet de balancier sur trois notes réitérées inlassablement repris ensuite par la guitare comme une tampura indienne. L’improvisation du violon enchaîne plusieurs affects nourris par le jeu du violoncelle. Dans le morceau suivant le violoniste poursuit sa quête inlassable par dessus le charivari des frappes rebondissantes de ses collègues, vers un maelstrom agité (Knots of Light) lequel s’apaise un peu en étirant le jeu un bref instant avant la fin abrupte. Le quartet joue de manière soudée et expressive des compositions relativement basiques tremplin pour les improvisations dans lesquelles se détachent l’impressionnante virtuosité du violon de Carlos Zingaro. Son jeu endiablé devient contagieux : le violoncelle s’enflamme et  le guitariste tire son épingle du jeu dans Resonant Shades. Encore un superbe témoignage du talent exceptionnel de violoniste de Carlos Zingaro. Avec un mais : ses trois collègues se cantonnent à créer un background, intense, dynamique, certes, au service d’une musique free modale un peu trop répétitive à mon goût. J’écoute cela avec plaisir tout en préférant l’orientation musicale de groupes à cordes comme ZFP (Zingaro-Mattos-Fell-Sanders) ou le Stellari Quartet (Wachsmann-Hug-Mattos-Edwards) Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg


Het Portuguese Staub Quartet, dat me “House Full of Colors” Zijn debuut uitbrengt, beperkt zich tot louter snaren. Naast meesterviolist Carlos Zíngaro horen we gitarist Marcelo dos Reis, cellist Miguel Mira en bassist Hernani Faustino, tevens bassist van het hierboven genoemde RED trio. De Link met moderne kamermuziek light hier voor de hand. Niet alleen qua instrumentarium, maar zeker ook muzikaal. In opener “Quiet Arcs” zijn het Faustino, Mira en Dos Reis die voor een dwingend ritmische structuur zorgen, waar Zíngaro zangerig op varieert. In “Red Courtains” en “Knots Of Light” gaat het er onstuimiger aan toe, al is ook hier de ritmische structuur een constante. Dat geldt eveneens voor “Opacity Rings”, dat nog het meest wegzet van een slepende dans.  Ben Taffijn


As you can easily guess, this multicoloured musical house got occupied by four tenants from the lively Portuguese improv music scene: the brilliant violinist Carlos “Zingaro”, the skilled guitarist Marcelo dos Reis (we already introduced some of his outputs in the recent past), bassist Hernani Faustino and cellist Miguel Mira. The title is not really related to what is known as ‘chromatic scale’ in music (as in improv music, variations on standard scales, wherever they get followed, almost belongs to the ‘rule’ of the game), but the variety of varnishes is more stylistic or I’d rather say emotional or even spiritual, if we consider the attached introductory words by Sergio Piccirilli: “the approach offered in this debut album of this quartet of distinguished musicians finds its inspirational epicentre in the concepts of light and colour. […] So claimed Paul Cezanne, “Light is not something that can be reproduced, but something that should be represented using something else”. The artistic testimony amalgamated by STAUB Quartet in House Full of Colors, the means used for that representation, are sounds and music”. The initial “Quiet Arcs” is just apparently quiet as it includes seeds of a vehemence, that will explode later on and sounds more like a warm-up, where the relatively slow tempo got led by Faustino’s double bass. The sound acquires the inflammatory tones of Mediterranean folk music traditions in the following “Red Curtains”, where Marcelo dos Reis seems to mirror some sonorities by Django Reinhardt in the swirling tonal vapours and first flashing fires by other instruments. The longest piece of this release “Opacity Rings” sounds almost meditative and the more exotic to my ears, due to the bizarre intersection of lulling guitar melodies that could vaguely resemble some Far East tradition, easily perceivable counterpoints and a general progression from darker overtones and aptly dumb atmospheres to a lighter and almost soothing one, a temporary tonal harmony that got dissolved by the following “Knots of Light”. All the instrument sounds overheated and the incandescent setting gets mirrored by the fast-paced playing by Carlos on his violin. Following such a furious parenthesis, the players seems to look for cooler places in their house, where the light and the heat cannot reach them, but the sliding through the shadows projected by a closed window or by the open door of some cabinet is not exempt from a certain sorrow in “Resonant Shades”…the strange disharmony they render in the second part is simply awesome like the way Marcelo quiets the tonal instrumental contrasts in the final “Discrete Auroras”. Vito Camarretta


Este quarteto de cordas estelar português traz Marcelo dos Reis, Carlos Zíngaro (violino), Miguel Mira (violoncelo) e Hernani Faustino (baixo). Neste seu álbum de estreia, o grupo adentra o universo camerístico em seis improvisações coletivas de elevada inventividade. Os sugestivos títulos ajudam o ouvinte a pré-imaginar o que irão escutar – mesmo que os temas soem surpresivos em seu desenvolvimento. Como na introspectiva “Quiet Arcs”, que abre o disco. Da algo soturna “Opacity Rings”, desembocamos em “Knots of Light”, tão incrivelmente explosiva que por vezes parece que as cordas estão sendo atacadas por imaginários sopros e percussão. Já em “Resonant Shades” brilha o dedilhado de dos Reis, com a guitarra acústica em quase-canto contrastando com os arrastados sons extraídos com os arcos pelos parceiros. Este tocante encontro, também registrado ao vivo no palco do Salão Brazil (Coimbra), em setembro de 2015, fecha com “Discrete Auroras”, de ruidosa intensidade crescente que apenas se dissolve no minuto final, deixando nossos ouvidos apenas com o eco das cordas. Fabricio Vieira


O STAUB Quartet tem características diferentes, mas partilha algumas ideias e princípios com o projecto anterior. Esta música é também livremente improvisada e assente numa base de cordofones: violino, violoncelo, contrabaixo e guitarra acústica. Este grupo integra também o veterano Carlos Zíngaro, que neste contexto se faz acompanhar por improvisadores que têm feito carreira com outros grupos: Miguel Mira (Motion Trio), Hernâni Faustino (RED trio) e Marcelo dos Reis (Open Field, Fail Better!, Chamber 4, entre outros). Também aqui, muito por culpa da instrumentação de base, a música assume uma certa natureza de câmara, mas não se fica por aí. Cada um dos instrumentistas contribui e intervém com veemência, há diálogo e confronto, as ideias fluem com rapidez. Por vezes o grupo deixa-se levar em crescendos enérgicos até explodir. Mas também se sabe deixar ficar num ambiente de tensão controlada, sem ceder ao impulso de rebentar (ouça-se a terceira faixa). Independentemente dos ambientes, o quarteto Zíngaro/Mira/Faustino/Reis desenvolve uma música continuamente trepidante e desafiadora. É ótimo ver que a improvisação portuguesa já não se limita ao contexto puramente jazzístico, que está agora aberta à instrumentação que tradicionalmente se associa a outros contextos, numa saudável mescla de géneros – concretizando algo que Zíngaro (principal instigador de ambos os discos) vem propondo há várias décadas. A qualidade e originalidade de discos como estes é reflexo direto deste tempo de riqueza musical em que vivemos. Nuno Catarino


On ne peut nier que le guitariste Marcelo Dos Reis creuse un sillon. C’est un chemin rectiligne, tracé au cordeau, tendu comme un arc. Peut-être telle une corde résonante, allez savoir, puisque le sentier où il déambule est tout sauf inerte : sensible, frémissant, quelque chose qui tient davantage du boyau que du nylon, qui vit au gré des mouvements. C’est le sens de la musique proposée par le Staub Quartet, ensemble d’improvisateurs lusitaniens qui signent avec House Full of Colors leur premier album. Mais c’était aussi celui de Concentric Rinds ou même de Chamber 4, rencontre au sommet avec les frères Ceccaldi. Qu’elles soient pincées, frottées, ou qu’elles subissent toutes sortes de triturations, la confrérie des cordes est unie par la guitare, et ce n’est pas la présence ici de Carlos Zingaro, lumineux dans l’intense « Knots of Light », qui nous démentira. Son alliance de circonstance avec le violoncelle de Miguel Mira, gardien précautionneux de la pulsation aperçu aux côtés de Rodrigo Amado dans un rôle similaire, est étourdissante et fraternelle.

Chaque intervention de Dos Reis nous rappelle son goût pour les dynamiques chambristes, ce qui ne l’empêche pas d’y installer une dose suffisante d’entropie. Dans l’étouffant « Red Curtains », alors que la contrebasse de Hernâni Faustino (Lisbon Connection) s’échine à densifier une phrase répétitive dont le mantra évoque l’urgence, la guitare s’émiette en divers avatars. Dos Reis joue à cache-cache avec le violon, ou frappe sèchement ses cordes pour accélérer artificiellement la cadence. L’approche du guitariste n’est pas, à l’instar de certains collègues de sa génération, de faire corps avec son instrument. Ce n’est pas une prolongation du bras, qui lui donne vie. C’est au contraire un medium, un réservoir d’émotion, comme le pinceau l’est pour le peintre.

Enregistré en septembre 2015 [1] à Coimbra, House Full of Colors explore la lumière, les ondes, les spectres. Ces matières, intangibles plus qu’abstraites, qui convoient l’énergie autant qu’une forme de mysticisme, présente dans l’écume de silence qui entoure « Opacity Rings ». Le nom du quartet signifie poussière en allemand. Le nuancier, imprécis mais chamarré, qui illustre la pochette traduit la légèreté désirée par les improvisateurs. Comme les particules charriées par les rayons du soleil, le Staub Quartet est brillant et irrésolu. Belle définition pour ces insatiables musiciens. Franpi Barriaux 




Four string instruments creating wonderful stuff, recorded at Salão Brazil in Coimbra. It is a peaceful, yet full of emotions music. Marcelo’s guitar, or better to say guitars play here a very important role listen the opening “Quiet Arcs”. Miguel’s cello, when played using finger picking reminds a little a bass of Hernâni, but Miguel plays also solos. The violin improvisations of Carlos Zingaro are breathtaking, listen to “Red Curtains”, a phenomenal show of synergy and creativity of all four members of the Staub Quartet. “Opacity Rings” lasts over 10 minutes and is notable for particularly melancholic mood. I dig also “Resonant Shades”, with especially beautiful guitar lines. The closing “Discrete Auroras” is perhaps the fastest and the most rhythmic track of the album. Carlos is again stupendous, but are all of the others. This the Portuguese free improvisation at its best!!! Maciej Lewenstein