Freedom In Music, Freedom In Life

THESIS MILES DAVIS – RICARDO PINHEIRO

“Davis’s stage conduct (that signifies the rejection of the role of the jazz musician as an entertainer) and the freer musical processes he was working on had an underlying and profound political substance: he was not only stimulating freedom in music eliminating melodic, harmonic and rhythmic pre-established canons, but also using new musical ideas and concepts that served as a metaphor for an ideal society and that appealed for social change.”

After my post on Miles Davis’s My Funny Valentine I received a message from Portuguese guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro. Pinheiro drew my attention to his thesis on the Miles Davis performance of Stella By Starlight in 1964. I found it interesting that Ricardo illuminated in-depth what I suggested in my review, the open but too often neglected door that jazz (and music in general) is not an entity cut off from society but a mutually stimulating phenomenon.

The Second Great Quintet of Miles Davis (or: the ‘first’ SGQ with George Coleman preceding Wayne Shorter) performing on a night sponsored by among others the NCAAP, is a case in point. Ricardo compares Davis’s 1958 version with his 1964 live version, pointing out the far-reaching flexible treatment of harmony (but one of the band’s challenging inventions) and arguing that “cultural, social, racial, and historical implications are crucial for the process of building signification regarding a specific recorded or live performance.”

Read Ricardo’s thesis, accepted by Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa in September 2020 here.

Significantly, the versatile Pinheiro himself is an emotive and intelligent guitarist aware of the shifts of parameters in music and society. Pinheiro cooperated with among others Dave Liebman, Peter Erskine, Eric Ineke and John Gunther. Recent recordings are Caruma and the brand-new Dança do Pólen, both stilled images of loneliness and acceptance and the beauty of nature, sparse outings of guitar (and in the case of Caruma voices). By no means conscious efforts of “Corona-recordings” (You’d be amazed at how many announcements of “Lockdown” albums I received in my mailbox) but albums that relate ambiguously to contemporary life.

Check out Ricardo’s website here.

Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli Turn Out The Stars (Challenge 2021)

NEW RELEASE – PINHEIRO INEKE CAVALLI

Tight-knit guitar trio Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli refreshes the work of piano legend Bill Evans.

Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli - Turn Out The Stars

Personnel

Ricardo Pinheiro (guitar), Massimo Cavalli (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

on November 8, 2019 at Atlantico Blue Studios, Lisbon

Released

as CR 73523 in 2021

Track listing

You Must Believe In Spring
Peri’s Scope
Turn Out The Stars / Time Remembered
Very Early
Interplay
Waltz For Debby
Some Other Time


Versatile Portuguese guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro, also a Psychology Graduate, is a keen interpreter of the jazz songbook and sustains a fascinating career that includes both fusion and the serene soundscapes of Caruma. His veteran Dutch colleague Eric Ineke has been there and done that and regardless of the age of 73 succeeds at continuously deepening his drum style. The trio is completed by Massimo Cavalli, harmonically refined bass player from Italy with a forceful, resonant sound. These gentlemen met in Lisbon and have already cooperated with Dave Liebman on Is Seeing Believing? (note the continuity of sleeve design) in 2016 and released their debut album Triplicity in 2019.

Swell and challenging idea, Bill Evans project. Unanimous decision by Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli, which alertly, tastefully and full of surprising details adheres to the piano giant’s far-reaching democratic principle of doing justice to every personality in the band. Very “Evans” as well: refined lightness that almost evokes weightlessness, which is a feeling that the internationally diverse trio brings to the fore very well while retaining its own authoritative identity.

A spacious and ephemeral sound and an angular but lyrical style, tagged by sleazily bended notes, are Pinheiro’s strong points. He’s convincing without superfluous exclamation marks. With bountiful calmness of line. And truly inventive at deepening Leonard Bernstein’s Some Other Time and medley Turn Out The Stars/Time Remembered with melodically astute use of echo, tone and volume control. The latter features Pinheiro working off the increasingly intense free forms of Ineke and Cavalli. Electric sheep jump fences. Silver apples seek the rising sun. Munchkins talk to the wind. Time went back to the future. Seldom if ever have we heard Bill Evans interpreted this way.

The conversational figures of the boppish Peri’s Scope, mix of cubist chords and rustling drum patterns of Michel Legrand’s You Must Believe In Spring, marvelous alternation of pizzicato and arco bass during Very Early and Ineke’s melodious solo lessons of simplicity during Interplay – indeed a very interactive performance – are snappy details in support of a layered whole. Simultaneously homage and stepping-stone for a new chapter in its suspenseful book, Turn Out The Stars finds Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli at the top of its game.

Find Turn Out The Stars here.

Caruma

OUT THERE – RICARDO PINHEIRO

Ricardo Pinheiro is an original interpreter of standards, both in conception and sound. Fusion is also part of his palette and the way that the guitarist from Lisbon, Portugal transformed the Disney tune When You Wish Upon A Star into a psychedelic drone on Triplicity was something else. But Caruma is one step beyond, a meditative record of solo guitar and the voices of Theo Bleckmann and Mônica Salmaso. Caruma was released on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music in November, 2020.

Close in spirit to the ECM label but a singular effort, Pinheiro Pinheiro explains that “Caruma is Portuguese for pine needle. The album springs from the inspiration of living in the countryside, in the middle of the Sintra woods. All the songs are related to atmospheric, photographic and emotional substance drawn from connections with nature.”

Elegance, restraint and stillness abound. Angelic voices mingle with the oblique melodies and overdubbed soundscapes by Pinheiro, like four legs entwined beneath silken sheets. Bleckmann subtly follows and builds on the lines of Pinheiro, Salmaso prefers mellow recitation of poetry. In between the electric guitar-driven songs, the acoustic Caruma stands out as a melancholic folk tune. The ambient climax of Resina evokes images of moorland shrouded in fog, bats in dark caves, where perhaps also dwell hobgoblins…

Mar Picardo introduces the element of fire. Rhythmic and improv-wise it has the tinge of King Crimson. Surprise tune of a surprising album.

Ricardo Pinheiro

Go to the website of Ricardo Pinheiro here.

Jazz In Times Of Corona Vol. 2

JAZZ IN TIMES OF CORONA Vol. 2 –

A couple of weeks gone by, the same insecurity and surreal everyday life still happening, slow-motion life but a speed course in disaster control… Most jazz musicians now expect that steady gigs will remain dried up at least till the end of summer. In Jazz In Times Of Corona Volume 1, Simon Spillett, Félix Lemerle and Ellister van der Molen talked about coping with the Covid-19 crisis. (See here) Today we have drummer Michael Duffy from Los Angeles, U.S.A., guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro from Lisbon, Portugal, tenor saxophonist Joan Benavent from Valencia, Spain and alto saxophonist Maarten Hogenhuis from Vinkeveen in the Amsterdam region of The Netherlands talk about their perspective on the situation. Where do they stand now that their professional career is in jeopardy? Which are their everyday endeavors now that gigs have dried up? How do they perceive the future for the jazz business? And, last but not least, is there a positive note to the shock that the crisis has brought about? Nothing like a warm live atmosphere, let’s hope for the best and the beat and the bass and the drums and all the rest…


Michael Duffy: “Well, we’ve never experienced anything like this in most of our lives, so the art of social distances is not being handled well. I love it cause I’m an introvert, so I’ve hunkered down and got some creative shit brewing, but for most people it’s really hard.”

Maarten Hogenhuis: “Not to be able to perform till June 1 (Dutch cautionary measures, FM) is a bitter pill to swallow. I expect that the period will be extended at least till summer. It is a financial loss, but the thing that bothers me most is the fact that I can’t play in a live setting, which is the thing that satisfies me most about being a musician! By day I spend time in the studio in my backyard, composing, practicing and elaborating on unfinished and new stuff. I also teach online. And for something completely different I developed a catering service with my wife. I love cooking and it’s a great way to help out friends and relatives. So I’m altogether keeping myself busy!”

Joan Benavent: “I miss the feedback from musicians and from audiences. Performing is a way of dealing with one’s fears and a necessity for me. But I certainly don’t feel like a bird in a cage. I accepted the situation and keep expressing my artistic identity through other paths more intensively than before, like writing music or practicing. And of course I keep in touch with my colleagues online. It’s very inspiring. I consider them my teachers. Being a teacher myself, I think the crisis is the same kind of nuisance than for others in the workforce of society. I teach between 15 and 20 hours a week and in order to do it online I have to design extra material, plus correct and assess more student’s works than usually, because most of the practical exercises have to be recorded to avoid connection problems.”

Ricardo Pinheiro: “The situation is dramatic, especially for many musicians who rely 100% on playing live. I had many concerts cancelled both in Portugal and abroad, including the official release concert of my CD. Here in Portugal, we didn’t see any clear and organised help from the Government, which is leading many musicians – and their families – to a very difficult situation. I teach at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa, which is our higher education Conservatory. We implemented online teaching, so our students can continue studying in the best possible conditions. In general, my days are occupied with teaching, studying and taking care of my children.”

(Clockwise from l. to r: Joan Benavent; Michael Duffy in between Jimmy James & Delvon Lamarr; Maarten Hogenhuis)

Michael Duffy: “Well, it’s a huge kick to the gut, so to speak, to our community, not only did this happen but we were fighting the local government who passed a measure called AB5 which in short makes it impossible for blue collar gigging musicians to make there money as an independent contractor. Now moving forward I’m unsure how the LA landscape looks, but I’m hopeful that we can turn it around, but it will be what I believe to be a bit of a reset. As far as government support, it’s on its way, but I’m unsure how it will sustain our community, to me it’s still a lot of unknown.”

Maarten Hogenhuis: “I’m an optimist by nature and not an apocalyptic kind of guy. I’m sure that this crisis will arouse an extraordinary gulf of creativity. That is what happened after the major subsidy cuts on the arts in The Netherlands a couple of years ago. All my musician friends are immersed in composing and studying, no doubt to the benefit of the audience in the future. Undeniably, a certain amount of musicians is threatened to go under. I hope they will be ok and that the backlash for our music won’t be too bad.”

Michael Duffy: “In 6 months I’ll have a shit ton of music to make, but will I have the space and finances to record and perform? I’ll be ready to work and ready to share this experience with the music world, coming from my isolation time. Well I’m still unsure of what will happen here with live music, if we will be able to sustain ourselves financially, but I remain optimistic.”

Ricardo Pinheiro: “No one can predict what will happen in the future. I’m worried and pessimistic about what is going to happen a few months from now. Firstly, I think that even when the public health issue is controlled, it will take a long time for culture to recover, especially music. Gigs will not appear again like magic. People will not start going out to concerts instantly, because they will still be scared to be in public places… So this snowball will not stop and reverse automatically. Secondly, we will have an economic problem that will take time to heal. Unemployment will grow, so a lot of families will see their income severely affected. All of this will have a negative and last-longing impact on culture. So, I see a dark future ahead, with a lot of musicians struggling for gigs and very few opportunities on the table. I really hope I’m wrong.”

Joan Benavent: “I can’t exactly imagine what the future will bring, but I think it is going to be like the crisis of 2008, due to the economic recession that Spain in particular – and the world in general – is already suffering. During those days a lot of venues had to close down, many gigs were cancelled, the administration did not support the sector properly so a lot of musicians were forced to look for other jobs. In any case, I’m pretty sure that the scene will survive. It is already getting re-organized and soon we will have a broadly supported syndicate to fight for our rights. But first and foremost, art has always been moved by two main principals as old as humanity, that don’t depend on administration support: the own artist’s necessity of creation and the need of society for sharing and being together.”

Michael Duffy: “Well, I can only speak for myself and say, this time has made me look at playing music and recording with a different lens. I really want to leave a bunch of original organ trio music for the next generation of diggers who love soul jazz as much as I do. I’m very motivated to get cracking. But I know that there is going to be some tough time ahead and we will have to look out for our friends and colleagues in the LA scene. There may be some mental health issues to help with and how to get things back on track financially for our gigging music community.”

Ricardo Pinheiro: “This crises brings out the urgency to question the paradigm of our existence. We need to reflect on the environment at a global level and question ourselves on the use – and abuse – of natural, human and economical resources. And take appropriate action. We need to establish priorities as a group and not as individuals. We need to understand we are all connected, whether we like it or not. We need to put greed and profit in second plan and look out for each other and future generations. And we need to stop being narcissistic and selfish and be more altruistic and aware of others. I also think that this crisis is forcing us to reinvent ourselves at a creative level. We are all adapting to new ways of experiencing art and the artistic process. Let’s hope we learn from our mistakes so we can build a better future for new generations to come.”

Joan Benavent: “I firmly believe that there’s a positive note to the current crisis. We are still at the beginning of this ‘new era’ and I think it brought a lot of good things along. Personally, I now have more time to spend with my family and I reactivated contact with old friends. On a musical level, it forced me to learn new tools for working, making music and communicating. I was quite outdated in all these subjects, but never again! I have the opportunity to study and practice more deeply the music of the great masters, almost as I had when I was in school. The time spent on thinking about my life and career is helping me to mature my personality. Generally, I see many people helping each other, in the media, in the streets, in the news, something I have never seen before to such an extent.”

Maarten Hogenhuis: “I navigate between a diverse section of projects as far as 2020 is concerned, making ends meet that way. My wife is involved in management and bookings. Her roster of artists is already receiving cancellations for August and September. This leads me to conclude that the trouble for musicians is not over by far. Regardless, I somehow feel that when people will again be allowed to get together, the relief will be massive. I foresee an enormous desire for the communal feeling of live music. Who knows?”

Jazz In Times Of Corona Vol. 2

Check out these websites:
Maarten Hogenhuis here.
Ricardo Pinheiro here.

Check Michael Duffy’s groove outfit The White Blinds here.
And the trailer of Joan Benavent’s new album here.

Pinheiro, Ineke & Cavalli Triplicity (Daybreak/Challenge 2018)

NEW RELEASE – PINHEIRO, INEKE & CAVALLI

The Portuguese guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro gets inspiration from many sources, even Ennio Morricone. But it’s the way Pinheiro and his mates Massimo Cavalli and Eric Ineke treat standards that makes Triplicity remarkable.

Pinheiro, Ineke & Cavalli - Triplicity

Personnel

Ricardo Pinheiro (guitar), Massimo Cavalli (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

on November 25, 2017 at Estudio Vale De Lobos, Lisbon, Portugal

Released

as DBCHR 75227 in 2018

Track listing

Blues Just Because
Cinema Paradiso
If I Should Lose You
Along Came Betty
You’ve Changed
Conception
Retrato Em Branco E Preto
When You Wish Upon A Star


In a trio without piano, doing without the harmonic safety rings of the pianist, the jazz musician will have to dig deep into the well of his creativity. Sonny Rollins did a number of iconic recordings, notably Live At The Village Vanguard. Motion by Lee Konitz is a key album. There’s the output of Elvin Jones with Joe Farrell and Jimmy Garrison. The common denominator of these records is, of course, drummer Elvin Jones, one of Eric Ineke’s greatest inspirations. Switching to guitar players, Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Ed Bickert and Bill Frisell released a number of challenging albums in their lifetime. Avant-gardists like Arthur Blythe had their say in the trio concept sans piano as well. Nowadays, even if not everybody is yelling ‘Stein go away!’, the practice is fairly common. But an affair that is interesting from start to finish, is, more or less, fairly unusual.

Perhaps their European roots are responsible for the fact that guitarist Pinheiro, drummer Ineke and bassist Cavalli find few obstacles during their search of still newer land, just like fellow travellers Toots Thielemans, Elek Bacsik or Enrico Rava. A coherent narrative runs through the whole 46 minutes of Triplicity, courtesy of a Portuguese, Dutchman and Italian who, in that order, are sincere and intriguing, sublime and responsive, strong and lyrical. They have been associated for a number of years now and have also recorded Is Seeing Believing? with Dave Liebman. The sound of Pinheiro has a metallic edge, is perhaps like John Scofield’s not the sweetest and warmest, but stands out. His playing is both angular and expressive, synonymous with Portuguese coffee, that gives one a solid kick before revealing its many exciting flavors. Cavalli is solid but he also likes to dance, placing frivolous and inspiring figures behind the stories of his company.

Ineke is grounded in the American tradition. He draws from his experience of playing with myriad American legends and a lifelong passion for heroes like Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Kenny Clarke, but is very hip and prolific, getting a kick out of cooperating with colleagues of all nationalities and ages and still eager to step out of his comfort zone. Perhaps his North-European background is most evident in the way he neatly puts all the ideas that flow around into context, meticulous like the tower controller at Schiphol Airport. Contrary to airport officials, however, Ineke allows himself a lot of freedom to color in the lines, is subtle or heated dependent on the situation, and always melodic.

Pinheiro carries the embellishments and understated passion from his Brazilian/Portuguese forebears, and also a bit of Django Reinhardt’s pace and clarity, over to his style, especially during Pinheiro’s Blues Just Because and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Retrato Em Branco E Preto. Partly because of this, the tunes are more closely linked than one would generally assume. Retrato develops from a dark-hued bowed bass section into an angular folk romp with a cinematic character. It’s easy to imagine a little movie scene in the countryside, a tipsy old couple slowdancing in the moonlight, gyspy children playing with a cat’s tail, a woman with a tear in her eye that runs down through the gullies of her cheek… Blues Just Because is a Now The Time-ish melody, boprocked considerably by the group and soloist Pinheiro, whose integration of crunchy chords adds to his multiplex of animated lines. Pinheiro even found time to pay attention to the last chord. It’s a lurid one similar to the way Eric Clapton would, and did, end a Cream song! Endings seem to comprise something of a running gag by Pinheiro, who also finishes Along Came Betty and George Shearing’s Conception with quaint, if rather more soft-hued, chords.

Blues Just Because‘s construction allows a lot of freedom for the voice of each personality, a method that marks the complete set. Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso gets a spheric reading, the Sketches Of Spain-type tale from Pinheiro is underlined by effective counter-rhythm by Cavalli and Ineke. Cavalli makes the most of one of his many opportunities to solo on this album, speaking with gusto and emotion. Cinema Paradiso is song turned into meaningful improvisation.

Benny Golson’s Along Came Betty, the hard bop anthem best known in the classic version by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, is salsa-fied with, again, tasty bass and drum intermezzos and suspenseful counter-rhythm, which makes it simultaneously loose and swinging. The three voices of If I Should Lose You speak as a unit but also separately, a way of working that depends on the power of conversation, which Pinheiro, Ineke and Cavalli have in abundance. Pinheiro’s groove is contagious. His ability to stretch bars or leave turnarounds be seems in-built. Ineke’s subtle brush work is the foundation of the tune, surely an album highlight. Ineke is a master with brushes on this one, and also during You’ve Changed. Carl Fisher’s ballad is also marked by great Cavalli stuff, whose phrases during Pinheiro’s solo glance forward to his own following statements. Lithe, crystalline strumming from Pinheiro ends the ballad on a beautiful, bittersweet note.

Standards turned into meaningful alternatives, with a lot of motion. On the other hand, When You Wish Upon A Star, the Disney tune that has been performed by countless artists, Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Joe Pass, Keith Jarrett and Wynton Marsalis among them, will never be the same again. It is not an alternative but a relentless deconstruction. A drone with shadows of melody evoking the Indian raga, it is marked by evocative Ineke/Cavalli interaction and hypnotic Pinheiro playing, which suggests a definite upbringing with late sixties psychedelica. To perfectly trim the trio’s outlandish Disney-interpretation, Pinheiro makes use of dubbed guitar and a slice of feedback. Not unlikely, upon hearing it, the guys of Radiohead would be transformed from paranoid androids to frenzied fans of Pinheiro, Ineke & Cavalli’s extravagant closer.

The rabbit in the hat of an already surprisingly original album.

Find the album here.