We recently encountered guitarist Luis Lopes as part of the Humanization 4tet (see January 13th posting). He returns today as a member of the equally adventurous Afterfall (Clean Feed 208). It’s a free-avant encounter with a quintet that includes Lopes, Joe Giardullo on soprano and tenor, Sei Miguel on pocket trumpet, and a rhythm section of Benjamin Duboc on upright bass and Harvey Sorgen on the drums.
This is five-way interaction, a cooperative date all the way, with all five members sharing the composing credits. What that translates into for the listener is seven musical vignettes, each somewhat different in mood. The freetime feel is pretty constant, with time sometimes more overtly implied and sometimes in a free falling zone. Some numbers are sparser and more reflective, some more extroverted and energetic. Sei Miguel’s always muted pocket trumpet forms a good contrast with Giardullo’s shining soprano or gruff tenor and Lopes’ sound-color oriented guitar.
A high point is Giardullo’s tenor work in “American Open Road with a Frog,” where he is is rippingly muscular over churning drums and bass. “American Tryptich” finds some room for Lopes’ spicy, floating chord voicings and chopping staccato-line crafting, some after-Miles-and-Cherry tartly stating-the-fact trumpet inventions and grainy bowed bass. “Return of the Shut Up Goddess” brings a storm of bowing thunder and weighted brushwork underpinning more Miguel muted eloquence and then vibrato-laced sustained guitar lines of a rough beauty. There are plenty of such moments, each one with a slightly different mix of musical voices, shades and degrees of emphasis.
This is a sleeper. It is so subtle in many ways one has to listen a number of times before the logic of the improvisational language truly speaks to you. But I found that it did after a time. And what it said was most definitely worth hearing.