Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble (LUME) is an 11-piece ensemble led by pianist Marco Barroso, here captured live at the 2014 festival Jazz em Agosto for an unusual concert that blends free jazz, noise, rock, musical quotes and much, much more in exhiliarating ways.
Lume (Barroso / Chochofel / Gaspar / Reis / Silva / Toscano / Menezes / Coelho / Charrinho / Monteiro / Marques / Cunha / Lala / Vicente / Amado / Machado)
Label: Clean Feed
Released in: Portugal
"A live recording of the concert presented by the very peculiar big band LUME (acronym of Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble) in the 2014 edition of the festival Jazz em Agosto, Xabregas 10 documents a particularly successful gig with the participation of the recently deceased saxophonist Jorge Reis, to whom the CD is dedicated.
And peculiar because, being a jazz orchestra, its leader and composer Marco Barroso comes from contemporary classical music and has a strong devotion for rock and funk, two factors immediately recognized in the groovy and heavy, but very complex, pieces here assembled - beginning immediately with "Astromassa", a metal-like composition in which the 12 blowing instruments (four saxophones, a clarinet, a flute, three trumpets, three trombones) can be more powerful than a couple of over-amplified and distorted electric guitars. This same piece includes an alto sax solo by Ricardo Toscano, a young wonder player who recorded it in the post-production process: he was invited for the project after Reis death, and his inclusion here is somewhat symbolical.
LUME has a post-modernist attitude, mixing elements from distinct origins in an unprejudiced way and doing it with a statement ("we're here and we're not going anywhere; deal with us"), not very common before in the Portuguese jazz scene. And if the collective behaves with that mood, very affirmatively, it also defines the solos by Eduardo Lála (trombone), José Menezes (tenor saxophone) and Gonçalo Marques (trumpet). In one word: stratospheric."-Clean Feed
"What do you get when you mix improvisation, noise, plunderphonics, big band theatricality, and the mad-dash orchestrations of "Looney Tunes" composer Carl Stalling? Some might say that you get a "disjointed mess," which would probably be true in most cases. There are ways of making such a diverse heap of ingredients work, however, and the Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble (LUME) has seemingly stumbled upon the recipe.
In 2010, LUME released their debut album. With its ever-shifting, fun-house approach to genres, it remains an astoundingly fresh and unique recording. With such indefatigable inventiveness, however, the question had to arise: how can LUME move forward? Being such a progressive-sounding group is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, there are no expectations and no limitations, and you're free to switch gears without any forewarnings or fare-thee-wells to the experiments you leave behind. On the other hand, there is often the crushing pressure for a progressive band to actually, well, progress - if you stick around in the same place for too long, you're bound to get accused of creative stasis.
With Xabregas 10, LUME defy these accusations and soar over the heads of anyone waiting with land-locked eyes for them to crash or stall. They don't do this by ramping up the insanity, however, or layering on more samples, or increasing the rate at which their manic melodies unfold themselves. In fact, they do the exact opposite - they dial it back. They lock into grooves. They open their arms to repetition. Don't take this as a sign of slowing-down, though; LUME haven't slowed down so much as become more focused, more deliberate, and more steady-handed in their approach.
The album opens strong with "Astromassa," which owes as much to final-boss video-game music as it does to Frank Zappa's Uncle Meat. That's to say: it's compositionally inventive and occasionally veers off into mad-cap melodicism, but is (at heart) a drama-filled rave-up. A lot of credit has to be given to LUME's primary composer, Mário Barroso; while there is a sense of underlying mayhem that sometimes rears its head, the myriad instruments and electronic elements that occupy "Astromassa" are largely kept in-check, wrapping around each other in both precise lines and wild (but contained) zig-zags. "Sandblast" is similarly structured, but replaces the histrionics of the previous piece with something more eminently danceable. The bass-line that drives the composition is straight out of the James Brown playbook, and André Sousa Machado's percussion is a pulsing ode to Afro-Cuban polyrhythms. Interspersed throughout all this funk are bursts of improvisation, with José Menezes (on tenor sax) and a trombone (although I don't know whose) both taking wild, energetic solos.
"Polén" slows things down a bit, but it's every bit as exciting as the pieces that came before. Once again, the rhythm section occupies a central role, Miguel Amado's bass and Machado's drums providing a solid back-bone for the swirling, heaving waves of sound that the other members of LUME produce. This composition is more indebted to developments of the slow and textural sort, avoiding the twists-and-turns of "Astromassa," "Sandblast," and, well, the vast majority of LUME's previously-recorded output. That's not a bad thing, though; it shows that they are well-equipped to handle a more restrained approach, and it shows that composer Barroso doesn't shy away from stuff that might be outside of his comfort zone. At its conclusion, "Polén" gives way to a dense, chaotic wall-of-sound that eventually dissipates, leading to the final piece.
"LSW" begins with a vocal sample in Korean, one that marks the return of LUME to the manic, endlessly-allusive style of their debut recording. After that, there's very little in the way of rest: there are snatches of familiar melodies, snippets of conversation from old television programs and movies, and explosive outbursts from the band itself, all wound together in a tight package that has the kinetic force of a hand grenade. After the halfway point, the composition dips again into the "wall-of-sound" technique that marked the end of "Polén," but now it's even thicker and more disorienting. By the time this wall is abruptly removed, the listener is left in an ecstatic daze - not just because of the pyrotechnics they have just heard, but because of the effect of the album as a whole. Xabregas 10 is a glorious mess, and one that I can highly recommend to anyone on the look-out for music that simultaneously batters the senses into the ground and sends them spiraling into space.-Derek Stone, Free Jazz Blog
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Label: Clean Feed
Catalog ID: CF 371CD
Squidco Product Code: 22125
Recorded at Jazz em Agosto, in Lisbon, Portugal, on August 10th, 2014 by Joao Paulo Nogueira.
Marco Barroso-direction, piano
Manuel Luis Cochofel-flute
Jorge Reis-soprano saxophone
Joao Pedro Silva-alto saxophone
Ricardo Toscano-alto saxophone
Jose Menezes-tenor saxophone
Elmano Coelho-baritone saxophone
Miguel Amado-electric bass
Andre Sousa Machado-drums
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1. Astromassa 10:04
2. Sandblast 10:33
3. Polen 14:00
4. Lsw 10:20