Gilfema – Three(Sounderscore SO 001. CD Review by Adam Sieff
Gilfema is guitarist/vocalist Lionel (Gilles) Loueke (Gil), drummer Ferenc Nemeth (Fe) and bassist Massimo Biolcati (Ma). They also perform and record together as the Lionel Loueke Trio for Blue Note Records, but the roots of Gilfema go back to the beginning of this century and these musicians’ time together at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles. They recorded two albums for ObliqSound in 2005 and 2008, and twelve years on, the appropriately entitled ‘Third’ which is a total joy from start to finish.
The thirteen tracks were recorded in a marathon day long session with engineer Chris Allen at Sear Sound, the oldest studio in New York renowned for its collection of warm-sounding valve microphones. Biolcati, who is both the album’s producer and record company, (releasing on his new Sounderscore Records label), then edited and manipulated the files in post production before mixing them at David Darlington’s Bass Hit Studios. The resulting sound is clean and modern with plenty of depth.
On this album Loueke is playing his Frameworks headless seven string nylon electric guitar, causing him to adjust his playing style from his normal six string electric playing. The warmer organic tone sounds phenomenal, and is the perfect base for Biolcati’s treatments added in post production.
The writing is by Loueke and Biolcati with two contributions from Nemeth. The only cover is Biolcati’s arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ from the album ‘Axis: Bold As Love’, with guitar and bass playing the melody in turn. Hopefully the YouTube video will entice a new audience to check out this version of the rock classic.
The music feels totally contemporary: modern jazz bumping on the dance floor with African beats, folk tunes, highlife and Eastern European rhythms and time signatures. Listening to this in the current lockdown conditions is a liberating experience, every note feels as if it’s full of light and joy. Nemeth’s ‘Happiness’ may be the funkiest thing you’ll hear this year and is driven along by a great bass line that’s ‘Jaco meets Rocco Prestia’. There isn’t a weak moment here, many other highlights include the joyous ‘Brio’ which had me leaping around the room and the wonderful harmony vocals on ‘Lé’. Loueke’s playing delights and thrills, he is such a musical and emotional guitar player with such a unique voice. Biolcati is going to be an in-demand producer for what he’s achieved here, the new Teo Macero perhaps?
‘Three’ is fresh and exciting improvised music that’ll make you want to dance your ass off.
LINKS: ‘Little Wing’ on video Gilfema websiteSounderscore website