Sunday, June 16, 2019

East & West - The New West Quartet [Gunther, Pinheiro, Cavalli, Pedroso] featuring Mike Del Ferro

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Guitarist Ricardo Pineiro and bassist Massimo Cavalli’s work was not “new” to me as I previously reviewed the Triplicity CD they made with drummer Eric Ineke on these pages. I enjoyed the music on this recording and was very impressed with Ricardo and Massimo’s musicianship [Eric, of course, being a Jazz Master is always impressive whenever he plays].

So when Ricardo reached out with a preview copy of his latest CD - East & West - The New West Quartet - I decided to dig a little deeper into the background of the musicians on this recording, to try and understand more about each of the players and how they became Jazz musicians.

The latter was especially intriguing to me because Jazz is not the primary choice of most of today’s young musicians.

What I found as an almost universal element in each of their backgrounds was how studied they were in terms of their training and how each continues to be involved with Jazz in academic circles.

A common thread for all of these players is attendance at a university and/or conservatory and then upon graduation to continue at an academic institution in some sort of full or part time teaching capacity.

I have listed the curriculum vitae for each of the band members below and you can peruse them at your leisure to become better acquainted with their distinguished credentials.

The music on East & West - The New West Quartet has been released on the Fresh Sound New Talent label [FSNT-576] and you can find track samplings and order information via this link to Fresh Sound.

Of the eight tracks, the familiar melodies of Monk’s Bye-Ya and Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice will give you a chance to set your ears on The New West Quartet’s style.

The remaining six tracks are originals and divided evenly at two apiece between Gunther, Pinheiro and Cavalli.
Throughout the music on this recording Pinheiro uses guitar amplification as a unifying factor and as a dominant sonority.

In this regard, Pinheiro use of multiple and different amplification samples reflects the influence of Metheny, Frisell and Scofield, Abercrombie, McLaughlin, and other Jazz-Rock fusion guitar artists.

But when John Gunther’s tenor sax is added to the mix, to my ears, the sound of The New West Quartet harkens back to the recordings that guitarist John Scofield made for Blue Note in the early 1990s which featured Joe Lovano on tenor sax [or, in one instance, Eddie Harris] and bassists Dennis Irwin, Marc Johnson, and Charlie Haden and drummers Bill Stewart, Jack DeJohnette, Joey Baron and Idris Muhammad [nee Leo Morris].

The Scofield albums in question are Groove Elation, What We Do, Grace Under Pressure, Meant to Be and Time On My Hands.

In-the-pocket grooving set against New Orleans, second line street beats [think syncopated marching band cadences], the latter especially inspired by the drumming of Idris Muhammad are a major element on all these Scofield albums and they are very much apparent in Gunther’s The New West and Pinheiro’s Polka Blues courtesy of the adept drumming of Bruno Pedroso. Pedroso’s crisp snare drum cuts through with accents when necessary to push the music along, but at the same time, his beautifully “harmonic” cymbals blend nicely with the other instruments adding a nice element of overtones to the music.

As the title implies Don’t Forget Ornette, Cavalli’s tribute to the scion of Free Jazz - Ornette Coleman - provides for open and spontaneous improvisation as the keynote to this uptempo excursion into the extemporaneous.

Pó dos días, a lovely ballad by Pinheiro sounds like something sculpted from a movie theme by Ennio Morricone whose music has an almost ethereal quality to it. It is my favorite track on the CD and I have incorporated it into a video that features the artwork of the late Peter Campbell which you will find at the conclusion of this posting.

It’s nice to hear today’s generation improvising on The Blues and East & West - The New West Quartet includes two forays into this 12-bar structure: the aforementioned Polka Blues by Pinheiro and Cavalli’s Boulder Blues which is a blowing showcase for the bassist who gets a big booming bass sound reminiscent of Ray Brown’s powerful work in the lower register of the instrument.

On Monk’s Bye-Ya and Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice with their strong associations with Charlie Rouse and John Coltrane, Gunther has his work cut out for him in establishing his own identity on these two well-served vehicles for tenor saxophone. With his angular approach to soloing, John does an admirable job of making each of these pieces his own and Bye-Ya introduces the refreshingly different piano work of guest artist Mike Del Ferro. Mike’s is a two-handed piano player and he employs this skill to bring a wide range of octaves into play during his solos. His improvisations are full of surprises.

Pinheiro’s sparkling and probing guitar work is “the glue” that holds everything together on this recording and gives the music a dominant sonority. Whether comping chords, playing rhythmic phrases or soloing, the overall texture on this album is created by the manner in which Ricardo weaves his amplified guitar throughout the eight tunes that comprise it.

It is a testimony to his grace and sensitivity as an artist that Ricardo pulls it off without being overbearing as far as the other instruments are concerned.

And speaking of “other” instruments, Gunther, Cavalli, Pedroso and Del Ferro are all first-rate players about whom I’m sure we’ll hear more from in the future.

As promised, here’s a detailed look at the background of each of the musicians on East & West - The New West Quartet.

Ricardo Pinheiro

Ricardo Pinheiro completed a Degree in Music at Berklee College of Music, Boston; Degree in Psychology Sciences at the Universidade de Lisboa; and a PhD in Musicology (Ethnomusicology) at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

He studied with Mick Goodrick, George Garzone, Ed Tomassi, Ken Pullig, Wayne Krantz, Ken Cervenka, Chris Washburne and Salwa Castelo-Branco. He played/recorded with Peter Erskine, David Liebman, Chris Cheek, Mário Laginha, Eric Ineke, Perico Sambeat, Stephan Astbury, João Paulo Esteves da Silva, Remix Ensemble, Matt Renzi, Jon Irabagon, John Gunther, Mike Del Ferro, André Charlier, Benoît Sourisse, among many others.

He teaches at the Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa, and is the Director of its Masters in Music Program. He played and participated in conferences and meetings in Austria, Greece, Spain, France, The Netherlands, Germany, U.S.A., Denmark, Italy, South Africa, among other countries, and published articles in journals such as Acta Musicologica of the International Musicological Society, the Jazz Research Journal, or the International Review for The Aesthetics and Sociology of Music.

John Gunther

John Gunther is a composer and multi-instrumentalist playing saxophones, clarinet, and flute. With a restless musical spirit, he explores all forms of jazz from traditional to avant-garde as well as classical music, world music and experimental electronic music performing on stages throughout the U.S., South America and Europe. He has performed or recorded with many jazz luminaries such as Jimmy Heath, Ron Miles, Dave Douglas, Dewey Redman, Christian McBride, Bill Frisell, Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, Woody Herman Orchestra, & Maria Schneider Orchestra.

As soloist Gunther has performed with Sinfonietta Paris Chamber Orchestra, Carpe Diem String Quartet and Banda Nacional de Cartago in Costa Rica. As part of New York city's "downtown" music scene for many years, he produced five recordings for Creative Improvised Music Projects (CIMP) and is co-founder of the contemporary jazz ensembles, "Spooky Actions" & "Convergence."

John is an Associate Professor and Director of the Thompson Jazz Studies Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 2007 he founded the Boulder Laptop Orchestra [BLOrk] to explore the intersection of music, performance, art, and technology.

Massimo Cavalli

Born in Italy in 1969, Cavalli started studying electric bass with Flavio Piantoni and Enzo lo Greco and double bass and jazz improvisation with Paolino Dalla Porta. He moved to live in Portugal in 1996. Studied jazz double bass at Oporto University where he got his degree in 2006 and his master in jazz in 2011. He has a PhD degree in jazz performance by the Évora University.

He started his professional activity as a musician in 1990 playing in different clubs in Northern Italy. He played in Dubai with the Four Winds Quartet and worked with the American singer Trisha Smith. In March 1996 he participated to the young musician jazz contest in Krakow (Poland) and the same year he recorded with the group Consorzio Acqua Potabile. He worked and played with groups and artists such as: Jean Pierre Como, Antonio Faraò, Benoît Sourisse, André Charlier, Perico Sambeat, Ferdinando Faraò, Eric Séva, Laurent Filipe, Melissa Walker, Fernando Tordo, Amelia Muge, Susana Félix, Alexandre Diniz, Jacinta & Michael Bluestein, Ricardo Pinheiro, Ala dos Namorados, Fiçcões, Joel Xavier e Didier Lockwood, Politonia, among others.

He attended some jazz workshops like “Jazz em Agosto” directed by Phil Markowitz, Ed Neumeister and Arnie Lawrence, the doublebass masterclass conducted by William Parker and a masterclass oriented by Peter Erskine. He has played in several festivals: Avignon (France), Oeiras Jazz Fest (Portugal), Porto 2001 Festival (Portugal), Vigo Music Fest (Spain), 6th Matosinhos Jazz (Portugal), 2th Curitiba Jazz Fest (Brazil), 7 sois 7 luas Music Festival (Portugal), 4th Portalegre Jazz Fest (Portugal), CompoJazz 2007 (Spain), Gaia Blues Festival (Portugal), Aveiro 2003 Music Fest (Portugal), Lagoa Jazz Festival (Portugal), Festival Il Portogallo at Catania (Italy), 9th Festival Jazz aux Oudayas (Morocco), Mafra Cultural Summer 2004 (Portugal), 17th Macao Arts Festival (Macao).

His CD “Varandas do Chiado”, with original compositions with his quartet, was published in 2012. He’s currently playing with The European New Quintet (with Benoît Sourisse, André Charlier, Perico Sambeat and Ricardo Pinheiro), with the Liebman/Laginha/Ineke/Cavalli/Pinheiro Quintet, with the project “Cinema & Dintorni”, and with the acoustic world music project called “Latitude Quatro”.

In October 2018 Cavalli released on the Dutch label Daybreak Records the CD “Triplicity” in trio with master drummer Eric Ineke and Portuguese guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro.

He is currently the head of the department of Jazz and Modern Music at the Lusíada University in Lisbon where he also teaches electric bass, double bass, jazz combo, improvisation and introduction to the study of popular music.
Scholarships and Awards: Berklee College of Music (2000-2002); Fundação Luso-Americana Para o Desenvolvimento;Centro Nacional de Cultura; Rutgers University - Institute of Jazz Studies - Morroe Berger - Benny Carter Jazz Research Fund; Fundação Para a Ciência e Tecnologia.

Mike Del Ferro

Dutch pianist Mike del Ferro is a highly sought-after composer, pianist and arranger who writes and performs in an impressive array of musical genres. He has travelled the world extensively (more then 90 countries), searching for collaborations with musicians from cultures quite different to his own, and the musical results have been eye-opening, building musical bridges between cultures not normally within reach of each other. He has managed to combine elements of the revered canons of Western music interspersed with the audacity of jazz improvisation, and paying tribute to the ancient structures of Asian, South American and African traditional music. He has recently signed a contract with Challenge records for a series of  10 CD's, collaborations with musicians from all over the world, based on his travels.The first trio CD will be released worldwide in the fall of 2011, and the second production in the spring of 2012, with guest artists from Brazil. Mike's father was opera singer Leonard del Ferro (1921-1992), who sang and recorded with Maria Callas, and his childhood was thus filled with music of the highest order.A native of Amsterdam, he started his career studying classical piano at the age of nine and, after falling in love with jazz, he focused his studies on jazz and received a Masters of Music in Contemporary Music from the Amsterdam Conservatory. In 1989 he won First Prize at the Rotterdam Jazz Piano Competition, the Soloist Prize at the Europe Jazz Contest in Brussels, and First Prize at the Karlovy Vary Jazz contest and from 1993-1996 studied composition and arranging with Bob Brookmeyer at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany. In 1995 Mike was appointed to the faculty of the Royal Conservatory in Gent, Belgium where he taught jazz piano until 1997. His reputation as a soloist, accompanist, composer and arranger has led to worldwide performances, recordings and tours with musicians such as Toots Thielemans, Jack DeJohnette, Oscar Castro Neves, Deborah Brown, Erik Truffaz, Jorge Rossy, Sibongile Khumalo, Carl Allen, Scott Hamilton, Richard Galliano, Thijs van Leer (Focus), Harold Land, Jan Akkerman, Norma Winstone, Benny Bailey, Candy Dulfer, Trijntje Oosterhuis, Badi Assad, Fernanda Porto, Madou Diabate and Maria Pia deVito. He has also recorded dozens of albums in many different genres from Dixieland to Salsa and has arranged music for animation for Danish animator and Oscar winner, Börge Ring. Mike del Ferro goes by Mark Twain's dictum - "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" - and his music reflects the array of influences that he has picked up in some of the most exotic places in the world

Bruno Pedroso

Born in 1969, Bruno Pedroso began his music studies in 1987. In 1990, he studied with jazz drummer Allan Dawson. He also studied with live jazz legends such as Clark Terry, Sir Roland Hanna, Rufus Reid, Bill Pierce and Kenny Washington.

Since 1995 I have been almost exclusively dedicated to Jazz. Bruno Pedroso also teaches at the School of Jazz of the Hot Club of Portugal. Participates in the Portuguese Percussion Collective. In 1997 he studied with Antonio Sanchez and Billy Hart. In 1998, he went to New York, where he studied at the "Drummers Collective" school, and privately with some of the most important drummers in the world jazz scene, based in NY, such as Jordi Rossi, Jim Chapin, Carl Allen, Leon Parker, Ralph Peterson Jr., Adam Nussbaum, Steve Berrios, Kim Plainfield, Bobby Sanabria.

In the last ten years, in addition to continuing his teaching career at various schools, he continues as a free-lancer, playing with the most varied names of Portuguese Jazz. He is also invited to join groups with important names such as Julian Arguelles, Chris Cheek, Ken Filiano, Peter Bernstein, Rich Perry, Miguel Zenon, Abe Rabade, Nicholas Payton, Reginald Veal, Aaron Goldberg, Phil Markowitz, Eli Degibri, Avishai Cohen, Antonio Farao, Peter Epstein, Bob Sands, François Theberge, Rick Margitza, John Ellis, Dave O'Higgins, Richard Galliano, Gregory Tardy, Perico Sanbeat, Jesus Santandreu, Ivan Paduart, Herb Geller, Sheila Jordan, Jesse Davis, Donald Harrison, Ben Monder, among many others.

Annually Bruno Pedroso plays in the main Jazz festivals in Portugal, and abroad.

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