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Roma Inversa




Michael Lauren, Vasco Agostinho and João Custódio offer us an explosive, exciting and technically exuberant live album, masterfully captured in the studios of Mobydick Records. Full of creativity, dynamism and contrasts of softness and coolness with moments of overwhelming weight, this is one of the albums of the year. 


The New Yorker Michael Lauren is, as someone pertinently put it, a jazz drummer with a rock 'n' roll heart. A multi-stylist musician, at the age of 72 he is unstoppable, with the energy and enthusiasm of a teenager. His latest project, the Michael Lauren Trio has just released, by Mobydick Records, the album "Live At Mobydick Records". The title is quite self-descriptive. Michael Lauren, Vasco Agostinho and also bassist João Custódio recorded the album live, with Budda Guedes behind the console signing a work that, by the way, stands out for the amplitude of the drums and the depth of the bass and guitar, all involved in a powerful and organic sound. Moreover, the recorded themes are originals by Michael Lauren, Vasco Agostinho, or both. 


The opening track is "Biji", an original by the legendary Sonny Rollins, arranged by Lauren and guitarist Vasco Agostinho. It introduces us right away in a very energetic dynamic and illustrates the enormous space in which the three instruments move and the sumptuous fill of cymbals that Lauren promotes in occupying that space. It also makes it clear that this recording is a trapeze without a net, with some impurities in the notes - something we state with total reverence - but with an enormous feeling in the interpretation. 


"Ritual do Cabrito" is a favorite on this side. A song where you can feel Agostinho's iron hand, as if the guitarist were molding the notes on an anvil, but without a hammer, using only the strength of his fingers. You may not know it, but Michael, in his immense devotion to music, has a little place reserved for the titans of hard rock and in this track, accompanying the weight of the guitar and bass, he reveals a beat power worthy of Bill Ward and Bonham's twisted bass drum/tarola swing. The drummer will repeat this on another rocker from this record, "Always Onward". As a curiosity, about 20 years ago I was a kid in love with death metal (a passion that still remains), and during one of my school vacations I took the opportunity to attend a kind of summer camp at Hot Club. The guitar teacher was, precisely, Vasco Agostinho. Since then I have retained the austerity as one of its main language traits which, in these two songs in particular, is felt in an exuberant way, with a Spartan solidity. 


You might be left wondering, if the best mesh (subjectivity) comes in the very second song, the record must lose relevance in what follows. On the contrary, "Live At Mobydick Records" remains a vibrant record in the remaining five tracks (objectivity). In "Bonfim Blues", an original by Michael Lauren, we hear quite clearly the generosity of this jazz legend who, in a conduction as solid as it is free, relies on a subtle execution open to the manifestations of dexterity of the other musicians, individually and in their sonic intersection, through vigorous solos and brilliant harmonized phrases. Then, the technical ferocity of the trio never sounds like they are showing off or performing in a free for all circus rather it is absolutely smooth and effortless, loaded with coolness as heard in the meandering "Looking Back At Life".


Then comes "Fresco”, possibly the most cerebral of the six songs. Even for its 3/4. Don't misunderstand, for in each of the songs, any of the musicians are superb in their execution, but here João Custódio is truly stellar in the way he connects the polyrhythms of the drums and the guitar and makes everything uniform, while also lending his voice and fiery aesthetic coloring. It is in this state of affairs that, almost without time to breathe, we enter the explosive final track, "A Bridge To Remember", which will culminate in a masterful solo by the drummer. 


A word for Budda Guedes' recording work. I have never been to the Mobydick studios, but as far as you can tell, they are not very big, nor is their ceiling that high. This is to say that the album is heard as if it had been recorded in a large auditorium. The reverberation sounds almost natural, the instrumental juxtapositions make you feel that each of the instruments is a good few feet away from each other because of the way they breathe and the way the mix puts each one in the spotlight at the moments where they stand out. Then the organic sound of the bass, the power of the bass drum and snare drum, the aforementioned filling of space on the cymbals, and the vigor of the guitar translate with enormous rigor the vigor and exuberance of the performances. In every possible sense, this is one of the albums of the year! 


Furthermore, it is a privilege that a world elite musician, such as the American drummer Michael Lauren, has chosen our country to live and work. Therefore, it is with pride that we also present a summary of his most visible musical creation in the last decade, in case you happen to be unfamiliar with it. In addition to his fervent discography, Lauren is also passionate about teaching music. 


The album film debuts on YouTube on April 29 at 9pm. Miss it and your entire record collection will turn into Pan Pipe Moods! 

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