SERPA/MATOS at Cornelia St Cafe - NYC, maY 13

  • photography by Clara Pereira / text by Filipe Freitas

Sara Serpa and André Matos, a talented Portuguese duo based in New York, gave one of their most enjoyable performances last May 13 at Cornelia St. Cafe.
The concert showcased tunes from their 2014 record "Primavera", as well as from their new album entitled "All the Dreams", to be released in September.
To play their eclectic compositions, they invited the pianist Pete Rende, the bassist Chris Morrissey (a pertinent choice and a debut in this project), and the drummer Billy Mintz.

Ethereal and graceful ambiences invaded the room during the more lyrical first set where the colorful musical textures combine distinctively with the poetry of Luis Amaro in "Programa", Fernando Pessoa in "Reality of Things", and William Blake in "Night", a slightly jazzified pop song that touches us with sweet summer breezes.
The band was sounding incredibly well, and the blissful "Primavera" found Mintz and Morrissey working together in order to create the most convenient pace, almost like a slow-burning locomotive. 
"Story of a Horse", the last tune of the first set, captured my attention due to its beautiful melody, elegantly vocalized by Ms. Serpa, and the different approaches by Matos and Rende during their respective improvisations. The former, more expansive, the latter, more reserved.

The second set, slightly more vibrant than the first, grew in warmth and intensified the hues. If "Espelho" maintained the dreamlike, contemplative tones, "A La Montagne" brought Middle Eastern flavors à-la Dead Can Dance, inviting us to an exotic dance at the sound of its contagious rhythms. 
Both "Calma" and "Água" flew unhurriedly, hypnotizing the attentive listeners with its involving harmonic cadences and tasteful melodies. The winsome last tune featured Matos in an utterly inspired solo and Mintz playing congas. 
After "Hino", a delicate love poem from the guitarist to the singer, I was able to take off the Earth with "Estado de Graça", a tune that truly represents the spirit of these versatile composers.
To culminate the performance, they chose "Rios" whose indelible melody kept being crooned by a few people in the audience.

Diversified yet homogeneous as a whole, these compositions are totally identifiable as Serpa/Matos creations, forming a strong and solid body of work.