Alípio C Neto | Jean-Marc Charmier 5Tet - Lilies For Ra (TerreSommerse, 2013) ****
Brazilian saxophonist Alípio C Neto is hard to pigeonhole, shifting between bop and avant-garde, at times warm and jazzy, at other times drowning the listener without compromise, yet the quality of the playing is always good, clever and authentic. Recommended albums are "The Perfume Comes Before The Flower" and the amazing "Paura - The Construction Of Fear".
We find him back now with a quintet, with Neto on tenor sax, brazilian whistles and cambodjian flute, Jean-Marc Charmier on trumpet, pocket-trumpet, and flugelhorn, Joakim Rolandson on alto sax and cambodjian flute, Torbjörn Zetterberg on double bass, and Paulo Bandeira on drums.
Their album "Lilies For Ra" is a strange blend of "traditional" free jazz with modern insights. Clearly there are some Ornette Coleman influences in the structures and the alternation between great themes and real free improvisation. But the real quality lies in the absolute refinement they bring. The compositions are great, the arrangements are warm and deep, the soloing is intense and sensitive, the balance between rhythmic moments and explorations is perfect, and the overall build-up of the album, the place given to each member of the band, the great production. Just listen "Arapuá", the first track below, and how it shifts from warm and welcoming to boppish mode and then how it dissolves into lose soloing with anguished undertones and then comes back to the unison lines of the beginning, and despite all the exploratory parts, the piece remains essentially coherent and focused.
The overall result is not visionary, nor ground-breaking innovative, yet the quality of the entire album is outstanding.