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With Once Upon A Time In Portugal, drummer Michael Lauren delivers a no-nonsense blowing date of hard-bop style jazz featuring a septet assembled in Portugal. This is sturdy, swinging stuff, played by musicians paying homage to a sound from long ago, but filtered through modern sensibilities. Lauren, who taught at New York City’s Drummers Collective for years, exhibits a big band touch throughout, though his feel (and the drum production) lends the tunes a pleasant air of softness. On “Outras Viagens”, Lauren’s ride patterns are purposeful and deliberate, concluding with melodic solo breaks that give a wink to Philly Joe, On “Seven Ties Corp”, the drummer lays down a funky, odd-time backbeat before straightening things out. Lauren doesn’t bring much attention to himself with hot licks, instead keeping it tight on closed hi-hats for the vibes solo here and opting to set up a trumpet figure with some easy cymbal off-beats there. For him, “It don’t mean a thing….” Are words to live by.


Ilya Stemkosky
July 2016 Issue 

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