One of the UK's premier rhythm sections meeting with the adventurous Portuguese trumpeter Luis Vicente results in some classy unfettered mischief on Unnavigable Tributaries. Bassist Olie Brice and drummer Mark Sandersindulge in the masterful interplay that has buoyed up the likes of the Riverloam Trio with Polish saxophonist Mikolaj Trzaska and their trinity with ICP stalwart saxophonist Tobias Delius. Vicente exhibits the same canny command he has shown in dates such as Points (Multikulti Project, 2019),Chamber 4 (FMR, 2015) and For Sale (Clean Feed, 2015). With six collective cuts recorded in the studio after the completion of a tour in Vicente's homeland, the trio further hones what has become a deep rapport.
So what of the individual parts? Vicente slides across the notes in liquid splutters and gobbets, veering from whinnying upticks to subterranean growls. But for all his tonal promiscuity, the trumpeter can still be something of a romantic at heart. During the denser moments, Brice revels in the adroitly-placed structural underpinning, though it is his measured contrapuntal figures which best demonstrate his keen ear. Meanwhile, Sanders channels the lessons of Tony Oxley and Paul Lovens, using his personal amalgam of texture and pitch to fashion a more direct thrust, tilting proceedings towards the free jazz portion of the spectrum.
And together? Well the opening "Côa," with its tensile web of timbre and tumble founded on continual recalibration between there being three lead voices and three supporting voices, announces the template for the entire session. Within this model the threesome uncovers a world of possibility. "Sabor" presents a drifting, brooding ballad, with Vicente's melodic tendencies borne aloft by spaciously planted pizzicato flurries and clattering cymbal accents. By contrast, on "Corgo" gusty trumpet squalls and abrasive arco fabricate a roomy granular fresco at least initially, before a gearshift into pulsing exchange.
But while the conversation might float, twist or rattle, the impact remains uniformly engaging. (Sharpe, 2020)