Album reviews

Mário Laginha – ‘Jangada’

Mário Laginha – Jangada
(Edition Records, EDN1191. CD review by Mike Collins)

Edition Records brings another gem to our attention with the release of this trio set from Portuguese pianist Mário Laginha. Laginha first crossed the radar of most UK audiences nearly twenty-five years ago, appearing on the Julian Arguelles album Escapade, and they have continued to collaborate, most recently in the trio LAN, also on Edition.

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Jangada shines a spotlight on Laginha himself. The eleven pieces are all the pianist’s own compositions, giving full expression to his wide ranging inspirations. The opener, Short Shore, cycles through a series of moods giving tasters of different sides of the trio’s musical personality. It starts in a reflective mood, rich singing chords hanging, before the piano breaks them down, explores and develops the harmony with evolving abstraction. Then an infectiously rhythmic motif develops, subtly nudged along by Alexandre Frazão’s drums, and a beguiling melody bursts through doubled by Laginha’s left hand and Bernardo Moreira’s bass. The piano solo begins with dazzling, flowing lines that fuse into melodic shapes, and evolves into a swinging rocky vamp, with a burning modal workout. It’s a thrilling ride that sets the scene for the music to come.

Chorale No.2 is overtly melodic, the shapely and bitter sweet harmonic development given an elegant reading. The Stone Raft is something of an epic, moving through a sinister march-like, dark mood to urgent, free group improvisation and back to the dark mood. Other pieces are joyful dancing romps; Seven, declaring its odd-meter in the title, has an irresistible skipping groove and exuberant theme giving solos wings. Ribeira Da Barca is a time-standing-still moment with the hymn like theme giving way to a Moreira solo and then Laginha takes flight with gloriously shaped melodic lines spiralling away. Kingfisher’s pulse is seething, urgent and racing, chords tracing out an angular, dissonant shape.

Mário Laginha’s breadth of musical vision and fluent lyricism should perhaps be more widely recognised and celebrated outside his homeland. He has a veritable directory of playing and composing credits to his name, notably a long association with vocalist Maria João. This fine recording under his own name with his trio deserves to catch the ear of a wider international audience.

Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter: @jazzyblogman

Jangada is released on 25 February 2022

LINK: Jangada on Edition Records

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