Henrique Eisenmann - The Free Poetics of Henrique Eisenmann

Label/Year: Red Piano Records, 2017

Lineup - Henrique Eisenmann: piano; Gustavo D’Amico: soprano saxophone; Jorge Roeder: bass; Rogério Boccato: percussion.

New York-based Brazilian pianist Henrique Eisenmann gathers an attractively eclectic quartet - bassist Jorge Roeder, soprano saxophonist Gustavo D’Amico, and percussionist Rogério Boccato - to give wings to his free, erudite, and often blatantly rhythmic composures.

The Free Poetics of Henrique Eisenmann starts with “Niños Peruanos”, where the voice of a 6-year-old Peruvian child reciting a poem in Spanish becomes the inspiration and main motif for the pianist’s creative reactions, emancipated with the assistance of Roeder’s smothered bass and Boccato’s understated percussion. The elegant scenario is intensified during the stunning rendition of Hermeto Pascoal’s “Zurich”, a musical conclave where enlightening jazz, Brazilian folk, and modern classical are the preponderant elements. The pianist is peremptory in responding to D’Amico’s rhythmic provocations, a feature that characterizes his playing.

The classical influences are noticeable again on “Sarabande No. 2”, a velvety carpeting whose final workmanship weaves highly rhythmic ostinatos.
Stepping on avant-garde ground, “Dans un Fracas de Plumes” brings in an ecstatic, free-feel posture that grapples with smothering low-toned notes on the piano and a buzzing, folk-inflected final cadenza.

Eisenmann also employs this smothering technique to get a percussive effect on “Zumbi”, a lyrical, stylized, and slightly mystic chant that also exhibits strong Brazilian flavors in its groovy trance. It shows less Brazilian pronunciation than “Epilogue: Pifanos”, though, where we find samba rhythms, typical choro melodies, and collages of piano sweeps and whirls that run at different tempos.

One of the most pleasurable moments on the record comes with “Afro-Latidos”, supposedly inspired by animal sounds, according to its title. Recurrent expansions and contractions are motivated by brisk piano movements, breathable bass accompaniment, and a vibrant percussive flow that gains extra resonance during the individual statements by D’Amico and Eisenmann. After a bridge encompassing both wistful and sprightly melodies in its passages, Boccato communicates expressively, secured with an embellishing piano-bass pattern in the background.

Bringing into play their musical and cultural backgrounds, the band delivers sheer moments of musical tightness and stimulating ecstatic exploration, achieving the artistic freedom envisioned by the bandleader. It confirms how jazz can work beautifully with other influences, making its universe a better place.

         Grade  A-

        Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Zurich ► 05 - Afro-Latidos ► 08 – Zumbi