Huw Warren Hermeto + Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Packed with outstanding tracks, this hour-long listen feels like a suite.

Phil Smith 2009

Perhaps best known in jazz circles for his work with Miles Davis on Live-Evil, Hermeto Pascoal has been a major force in Brazilian jazz for the last 40 years. Welsh pianist Huw Warren’s new trio recording is an exciting and varied celebration of Hermeto’s music with, as the title suggests, a bit more thrown in to boot.

The variety of material on Hermeto + reflects the range of Pascoal’s output, though half of it is in fact by Warren himself. The former’s love of rhythmic vitality and ‘unusual’ meter (heard here in the joyous seven-time of Jegue and the ever-shifting barlines of Briguinha de Musicos Malacos) comes through in Warren’s interpretations and in his own DP & C and Cowbois and Shepherds, two tracks which feature drummer Martin France and bassist Peter Herbert on commanding ensemble form. Pascoal is famous for making music from unconventional, ‘non-musical’ sounds and this freer aesthetic inspires the trilogy of original compositions (All is Sound, All is Music, All is Life) in which the trio work together to find new timbres from their respective instruments. Tasteful over-dubbing also expands the sound, with Warren adding extra keyboard parts (in the uplifting final fade-out of Santo Antonio, for example) as well as displaying his multi-instrumental credentials on three tracks that feature accordion.

Like fellow Basho artist Gwilym Simcock, Warren’s piano playing is full of invention and taste, heard here in the fluent phrasing and explosive octaves of his solo work, the assurance with which he presents Pascoal’s lengthy (and often contrapuntal) melodies and in the sensitive rubato he brings to ballads.

Packed with outstanding tracks, this hour-long listen feels like a suite, framed by Warren’s opening chorale (The End is also the Beginning) – consisting of a simple melodic phrase, richly and variously harmonised – which returns at the end in a freer guise to close the album (despite the different forces, Kenny Wheeler’s Sweet Time Suite comes to mind). Those who enjoyed Warren’s performance of this material on Jazz on 3 back in June will be delighted to get their ears around this CD.

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