Esteves da Silva / Mario Franco / Samuel Rohrer - Brightbird

Label/Year: Arjunamusic Records, 2017

Lineup – João Paulo Esteves da Silva: piano; Mário Franco: bass; Samuel Rohrer: drums.


Immersed in a shimmering sea of creative beauty, Brightbird feels disciplined and free at the same time. The album results from a triangular interaction between the open-minded Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer and two Portuguese explorers, pianist João Paulo Esteves da Silva and bassist Mario Franco.

The 13 original pieces oscillate between the static exploration and the minimalism, passing through erratic, contemplative ballads that sometimes are turned into classical-tinged laments. 

With an enchanted tranquility, “The Fireplace” opens the album as a surreptitious expression of the soul, ending with Silva’s ruminative solo articulacy.

After a wayward introductory section, “Sun” becomes suavely propelled with a nice groove laid down by Franco and Rohrer, who provides the rhythmic stability for Silva’s prayerful utterances in an appreciative and contagious heliolatry.

The minimalistic “Trusting Heart/Cosmos” contains profound piano voicings, punctual bass reinforcements with floating harmonics, and timely cymbal splashes, opening up for a hypothetical spirituality. Also searching for an indestructible equilibrium we have “Noon Tide”, brought to life by a bass ostinato, discreet percussive touches, and intriguing intervallic exploration on piano, and also “Winter”, based on a descending phrase recurrently designed by piano and bass. “Oldness”, for instance, acquires a relentless percussive throb on the piano, which is manifestly complemented by arco bass hums and occasional taps, together with Rohrer’s attentive and unobtrusive drumming.

Stubbornly stationary but shrouded in a positive emotional cloud, “Renewal” encapsulates nuanced harmonic movements adorned with a few opportune snare drags thrown in by Rohrer, who seems to request some motion.

Melody plays a vital role in song-like tunes such as “Bird” and “There Were Shadows”, infusing a particular taste on the cerebral “Uncertain Steps”, which doesn’t sound so abstract as the title suggests but eschews the song format as it builds a sort of lament supported by mellifluous classical intonations.
Waking” is perhaps the unique title that stood out poignantly against the lethargy embraced by the threesome throughout the record. The rhythmic steam clings to their triangular sound, forming an interesting combination of ecstatic turbulence and confined buoyancy.

Taking an unambiguous direction, the explorative Brightbird is made of intimate moments that require a no-noisy atmosphere to be fully apprehended. With that aspect assured, this classic piano trio gains both satisfying and unexpected perspectives.

       Grade  B+

       Grade B+

Favorite Tracks:
02 - Sun ► 03 - Trusting Heart/Cosmos ► 10 – Oldness

Klaus Gesing / Bjorn Meyer / Samuel Rohrer - Amiira

Klaus Gesing: bass clarinet, soprano saxophone; Bjorn Meyer: bass guitar; Samuel Rohrer: drums, percussion.

The European trio co-led by German saxophonist and clarinetist Klaus Gesing, Swedish bassist Bjorn Meyer, and Swiss drummer Samuel Rohrer, releases their sophomore album, Amiira, on the drummer’s label Arjuna Music.

The trio appeared for the first time in 2013 with Open Source Music. Before committing to this project, Gesing released two solo albums and recorded with Anouar Brahem, whose quartet also integrates Meyer. In turn, Rohrer has recorded with the Ambik project and Daniel Erdmann, and is currently working with the Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim and Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje.
Amiira opens with “Shine On Me”, a celestial ode that illuminates as Gesing’s soprano spreads engaging melodies over the fluffy layer created by the composite of bass and drums. Meyer opts for a disjointed approach before sticking to cyclic pop-rock lines.

Minne” feels simultaneously beautiful and sad, evoking the elegy of Jobim’s “Retrato em Branco e Preto” and the nostalgia of Pieranunzi’s Fellini Jazz.
Fulminate” moves in a different direction, incurring in a lucid experimentalism that encompasses hip-hop beats, funky bass lines, and an accordion-like effect on the saxophone.

Percussive noises unfold "After You’ve Left”, an atmospheric downtempo divagation where Gesing's dulcet phrasing finds solace in the underlying layer brought up by the rhythm section. Meyer almost transforms his bass into a sitar.

A vital, electrifying percussion sets “Source One” in motion and waits for Gesing’s bass clarinet to lead the way toward a fulgurant ecstasy of color. 
The very suggestive “Clouds Below” is a levitating piece à-la John Surman. It diverges in rhythm but not in posture from “Sirènes Sacrées”, a silky and perfectly synchronized spin of pacific enchantment.

I see Amiira as a compendium of sheer prayers arranged with freedom but also discipline. The trio, showing maturity and an excellent understanding, transports us to diverse sonorous landscapes where an audacious avant-garde jazz intertwines with soulful world music.

          Grade  A

          Grade A

Favorite tracks:
01 – Shine On Me ► 06 – Source One ► 09 – Sirènes Sacrées