La Habitación del Jazz – José Ramon
New Yorker Michael Lauren has been sitting on a drum kit since he was eight years old. He attended Johns Hopkins University, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Berklee College of Music. He is a founding member of the world-renowned Drummers Collective NYC and is the founder and artistic director of The International Drum Academy in Lisbon, Portugal. He has performed and/or recorded with Chuck Berry, Benny Golson, Paul Anka, Tom Harrell, Tom Jones, Bill Frisell, Bob Mintzer, Milt Hinton, Teo Macero, Mike Stern, Silje Nergaard, Dena DeRose, and many others. He has written seven books. Lauren has already been through The Jazz Room twice with his All Stars. In 2016 with "Once Upon a Time in Portugal" and in 2018 with "Old School / Fresh Jazz". The trio that is the focus of his current project is completed by two excellent Portuguese musicians: guitarist Vasco Agostinho and bassist João Custódio.
“Live at Mobydick Records” was recorded during a streaming broadcast of a live concert, at the end of June 2021, at the studios of Mobydick Records, an independent label created in 2005 by musicians Alex Liberalli, Budda Guedes and Nico Guedes, with the objective of publishing music without commercial restrictions, giving its artists total artistic freedom.
The album is a true reflection of the mixture of styles that characterize Lauren: rock, blues, funky and jazz, all immersed in a hard swing.
The beginning of the album is “Biji”, a Sonny Rollins composition adapted as a trio with arrangements by Lauren and Agostinho. An energetic theme, full of rhythm, with intense solos, characteristic of Lauren who believes that something magical happens when it is recorded in this way.
In Agostinho's “Ritual Do Cabrito”, jazz rock is featured, with Agostinho's moderately distorted guitar, Custódio's bass collaborates with it and what can I say about Lauren's drumming. The tune is full of strength that transmits energy and joy.
The album relaxes with "Bonfim Blues" by Lauren, who begins his tune on with a beautiful introductory solo. In this relaxed blues, Agostinho demonstrates that he plays the blues as well as he plays hard rock. A brilliant Custódio makes us keep the rhythm with our foot. The three have their private space and trade solos.
The record turns funky with “Sempre Em Frente”, composed by Lauren and Agostinho, with the arrangement by the former. Lauren starts it, the bass accompanies and supports him while the guitar sounds again as the protagonist with a slighty dirty but impressive sound.
Custódio makes a long introduction in “Looking Back At Life”, also written by Lauren and Agostinho. A relaxing and sensual ballad, with Agostinho and Custódio shouldering the weight of it, accompanied by an exceptionally subtle Lauren.
“Fresco” is a happy song, with Agostinho, its author, on guitar, delighting us with another excellent performance. The tireless Custódio marks the pulse along with Lauren’s discreet accompaniment, leaving the limelight to his colleagues.
The last track is “A Bridge Remembered” by the Lauren-Agostinho songwriting team. A fast track led by the guitar with the bass and the drums playing all out.
Within "Live at Mobydick Records" there is an energetic, fresh, exciting, forceful and authentic jazz. Played honestly by a man someone said "is a jazz drummer with a rock heart", who at 72 years old shows enviable energy and enthusiasm.