The Squid's Ear Magazine

Mortagua, Goncalo / Ernesto Rodrigues / Guilherme Rodrigues / Gunter

Spanning three generations of improvisers, the duo of violist Ernesto Rodrigues and cellist Guilherme Rodrigues join with tenor saxophonist Gonçalo Mortágua and legendary percussionist Gunter Baby Sommer to record eleven diverse improvisations in the studio in Berlin, naming the quartet "Not Bad", an extreme understatement for their unique chamber influences of European Free Jazz.

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product information:

UPC: 5609063407617

Label: Creative Sources
Catalog ID: cs761
Squidco Product Code: 33227

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: Portugal
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded in Studio Zentri Fuge, in Berlin, Germany, on June 15th, 2022, by Tito Knapp.


Goncalo Mortagua-tenor saxophone, bamboo flute

Ernesto Rodrigues-viola

Guilherme Rodrigues-cello

Gunter Baby Sommer-percussion

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The passing of time can take on a variety of colors and inflections: Narrative is thus only ever provisionally linear. Different moments take on different affective qualities, some perhaps moving forward, some pointing back. Generations of musicians engage the sculpting of time then, not only in the moment of (perhaps improvisatory) musical performance, but also across the human realm, i.e. across lives and relations. For some, performances and articulations are always underway, in process.... So when Ernesto Rodrigues variously engages worlds beyond humanity, the worlds of creatures or ecological scenes or atomic phenomena, he is humanizing those worlds, i.e. articulating them sonically for himself, moreover with and for others, forging (sometimes ephemeral) relations: Creative Sources has then cultivated e.g. spectral music more generally, i.e. (natural) overtone relations subsuming the history of Western chromaticism and its twelve distinct tones - but also in terms of both Western instrumental practice and (often...) small collective bands or ensembles of musicians. Just as distinctions between different notes of traditional scales might blur (yielding to a distributed field of relations...), distinctions between different musicians, including the superficially different timbres of their instruments, might blur in performance as well.... Yet, fields of individual virtuosity do still (re)appear. And for this Not Bad quartet, an assemblage spanning three generations, individual virtuosity does indeed feature, including in traditionally free and jazzy solos, but also as an aspect of forging a coherent whole. The result before us, well over an hour of dense musical interaction, is thus more directly expressive than many Creative Sources albums, often featuring strong rhythmic coloring from one of the pioneers of the European Free Jazz scene, Gunter "Baby" Sommer of Dresden. Yet this melding of impulses and styles is not only about looking backward toward a legend of the previous generation, but forward as well: Ernesto is joined in this quartet performance by his son, Guilherme Rodrigues, only 34 years old, but the veteran of well over a hundred albums on Creative Sources and elsewhere, as well as by young Portuguese horn player, Goncalo Mortagua. (And it's not only the Rodrigueses forging this link with Sommer, but very much Mortagua as well. He initiated the session via teaching connections, and the two can frequently be found interlocked, in traditionally jazzy duo interactions, suggestive of one pole here....) And so, just as a septuagenarian called Baby already seems destined for a (paradoxical) play of generations, for their prior album together (again on Creative Sources, 2020), Goncalo and Guilherme appear themselves as (2 of) As 3 Velhas.... Such paradoxes might even broadly define something of the European improvising style per se, "paradoxes" of freedom seeming an especially Old World notion.... (A sort of conscious multidimensionality becomes an aspect of free music's affective contours, one might say. And for Baby and others, those dimensions embrace humor too.) But history isn't always inflected this way: Sommer himself confronts his own influences perhaps most explicitly (and linearly) on his 2013 solo album Dedications for Intakt, including his connection to Baby Dodds, i.e. in the distinct coloring of each beat of the rhythmic cycle. And Sommer does command the ensemble at times, virtuosically holding together a sort of free take on classic jazz already on "Verve," but only after a sort of arrhythmic timelessness can dominate portions of "Abertura." In many ways, the remainder of the album does reflect that opening, as the musicians continue to shift through different styles and perspectives, different plays of light. Indeed, soon Guilherme's probing held tone asks what is real or what is a dream, casting different spells, the ensemble sometimes shades into seemingly distant colors.... (So the term "spectral" can come to suggest its two meanings here, particularly as shifting tones trouble our sense of distinct "notes" - or temporalities.)

But the beginning, that sense of aperture (and perhaps unreality), followed by the traditional take on cacophonous jazz, is far from the full story. "Invocacao" consummates a strong "world vibe" next, not only an obvious inspiration for both Baby and Ernesto, but for "jazz" as an ongoing project in general: Here, e.g. flute soon pairs distinctively with mouth harp and then woodblocks - continuing to recall natural sounds themselves coloring human perception and so human music. (Later in the album there's also a nocturne, involving again quiet zoomimesis....) It can almost feel as if we're back in the 1960s (or actually, 70s...), including pace the suite of movements here: There's an overall sweep to the sequence (pace "progressive" albums...), but most tracks have their own formal complexities and narrative arcs too, rhythmic choreography sometimes bending, or even fading away... i.e. back to a sort of timbre music (of perhaps rubbing instead of striking, blurring instead of articulating intervals of time...). Or sometimes the drums are jazzily (or worldly...) assertive and in control. So time itself does come to take on different colors, inflecting forward and back, parsing different worlds, maybe going beyond.... That is, until - pending another pass through the urban scene - it seems that by "Letzter Wurf," Baby is ready to retire to the beach."-Todd M. McComb

Get additional information at Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

Artist Biographies

Gonçalo Mortágua: "Since an early age sounds were pr"esent in my life, through a vast array of music that I heard even before I could talk. This natural sound resource still didn't had names or categories but it was already sailing inside my body. Many years later, I found in the Saxophone and the Clarinet the best way to communicate musically. To improve and nurture my curiosity I started studying Jazz Saxophone at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa with Desidério Lázaro, Jorge Reis and Paulo Gaspar. Later on, decided to suspend my Bachelor and move to Berlin, Germany. I decided to continue my studies in Dresden at the Hochschule für Music Carl Maria von Weber.

High Life, Afrobeat , Traditional Brasilian Music and Jazz are my musical styles of preference, having created or participated in music groups such as Maurizio Presidente! or Jacaré, performing in renowned venues like Fusion Festival ,Yaam, Club Gretchen or Sisyphos. As a freelance artist I also collaborated with the independent artist Alice Phobe Lou on the occasion of a concert at the Funkhaus Berlin.

Currently playing and touring extensively with an Afro-Soul Band called Jembaa Groove from Berlin, project initiated by the dear Yannick Nolting and Eric Owusu. Since now we have performed in Fusion Festival, Jassmine, XJazz Festival and BBC6 Radio. More is definitely to come!

In the present I focus mainly in developing projects that allow me to expand the sonic and expressive possibilities of myself."

-Goncalo Mortagua Website (

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"He has been playing the violin for 30 years and in that time has played all genres of music ranging from contemporary music to free jazz and improvised music, live and in the studio.

His main interest shifted towards contemporary improvised and composed music.

The relationship with his instruments is focused in sonic and textural elements.

Electronic music was an early influence on his approach to violin playing, which challenges traditional romantic concepts of the violin/viola through use of preparations and micro tuning.

Active in different settings on the Portuguese scene for free improvised music, both as a collaborator and in leading his own groups.

Music for Dance, Cinema, Video and Performance.

Has created the record label Creative Sources Recordings in 1999, which mainly concentrates on releasing experimental and electro-acoustic music."

-Creative Sources (

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"Was born 1988 in Lisboa, Portugal and started playing cello and trumpet at Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa at the age of 7. In 1999 joined Conservatório Nacional de Música de Lisboa to study classical and music theory and in the current year recorded his first album - Multiples - with Ernesto Rodrigues and José Oliveira out on Creative Sources Recordings.

Apart from work in music ensembles ranging for contemporary classical to free improvisation, also works with live music poetry, theatre and film-music. After lengthy residency in Lisboa, (1988-2016) moved to Berlin and has been active as composer and improviser in the scene.

Worked with some international and renewed artists like Ernesto Rodrigues, Jean-luc Guionnet, Margarida Garcia, Manuel Mota, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Sei Miguel, Tim Goldie, Jeffrey Morgan, Oren Marshall, Gerhard Uebele, Klaus Kurvers, Gabriel Paiuk, Nicolas Field, Jaime Fennelly, Blaise Siwula, Will Guthrie, Pawel Grabowski, Michael Thieke, Wade Matthews, Leonel Kaplan, Diego Chamy, Gabriel Paiuk, Barry Weisblat, Joe Giardullo, Jassem Hindi, Tisha Mukarji, Masahiko Okura, Taku Unami, Toshihiro Koike, Sharif Sehnaoui, Christine Abdelnour, Alexandre Bellenger, Carlos Zingaro, Romaric Sobac, Nuno Rebelo, Nuno Torres, Naoto Yamagashi, Heddy Boubaker, Gerhard Uebele, Guillermo Torres, Tomas Gris, Carlos Santos, Bruno Parrinha, Miguel Leiria Pereira, Miguel Ivo Cruz, Alberto Cirera, Nuno Morão, Mark Sanders, Dennis Gonzaléz, Alípio Carvalho Neto, Raymond Macdonald, Neil Davidson, David Stachenas, Lisa Ullén, D'incise, Cyril Bondy, Miguel Mira, Rodrigo Amado, Abdul Moimême, Monsieur Trinité, João Madeira, Álvaro Rosso, Gil Gonçalves, Marian Yanchyk, Filipe Passos, Rodrigo Pinheiro, Christian Wolfarth, Thanos Chrysakis, Bechir Saade, Kurt Liedwart, Miguel A. Garcia, Ilia Belorukov, Andrew Lafkas, Gao Jiafeng, Eric Wong, Johan Moir, Casey Moir, Magda Mayas, Matthias Muller, Alexander Frangenheim ...

Has performed and toured in all Europe. Released more than 30 albums of his own projects."

-Creative Sources (

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"Günter "Baby" Sommer (born 25 August 1943 in Dresden) is a German jazz drummer.

He studied music in Dresden. He rose to fame in the GDR. He is part of the European free jazz avantgarde. He was part of the trio with Conny Bauer and Peter Kowald. He is now professor for drums and percussion in Dresden. The drummer and composer Christian Lillinger was one of his former students. The album Three Seasons "(HGBS 2014 with Michel Godard and Patrick Bebelaar) was awarded " Album of the Year 2014 " by The New York City Jazz Record."

-Wikipedia (

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Track Listing:

1. Abertura 7:44

2. Verve 9:45

3. Invocacao 10:18

4. Instant Impressions 6:03

5. Wandering Around 4:41

6. Grenze Zu 8:05

7. Duo 1:25

8. Unduo 2:15

9. Seide, Samt Und Kashmir 6:25

10. Untitled 5:15

11. Letzter Wurf 9:36

Related Categories of Interest:

Creative Sources
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Chamber Jazz
Quartet Recordings
New in Improvised Music
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