The Michael Lauren Trio: Live At Mobydick Records (Why Not Music, 2022)
18 Apr 2022
The new production by New York pedagogue and drummer Michael Lauren comes to us with a structural difference in terms of the group's format, which this time is made up of a trio, shared with guitarist Vasco Agostinho, and João Custódio on double bass. In some of his latest productions, prior to this one (The Michael Lauren All Stars: Once Upon A Time In Portugal, 2015; and The Michael Lauren All Stars – Old School / Fresh Jazz, 2018), we have heard the drummer in larger formations, accompanied by important figures from the Portuguese jazz scene. Trio work requires different planning and is not exempt from the difficulties that are generated in any type of recording, especially this time as a live concert, in Braga (Portugal) in 2021, in the studios of the Mobydick Records record label, owned by the brothers Budda and Nico Guedes.
The album contains seven compositions of varied styles, pointing towards that musical diversity that Lauren has accustomed us to, which makes it very exciting listening in its entirety.
"Biji" is the lead off song on the album. A composition by saxophonist Sonny Rollins, adapted to the trio, with arrangements by Lauren and Agostinho. The cheerful and spirited arrangement allows the three musicians to make short improvisations on the harmonic structure, highlighting the role of the guitarist with a longer, cleaner and more fluid solo, well accompanied by Lauren's omnipresent drums and the successful lines of the Custódio's double bass, creating a powerful and perceptible groove, with a good and deep sonority. In "Ritual Do Cabrito", we appreciate a stylistic turn towards jazz rock, marked by Custódio's double bass, Lauren's forceful drums, and the somewhat distorted sound of Agostinho's guitar, which once again has an outstanding role shared with the double bass and drums. The listening continues with a drum introduction that gives way to the melodic exposition of “Bonfim Blues” (Once Upon A Time In Portugal, 2015), a relaxed and eloquent blues, versioned as a trio, with well-defined solos by the three components. The rhythms of jazz funk are also present on the album with the theme entitled “Sempre Em Frente”, which begins with the pulse of the drums, then double bass, to which the distorted guitar is added in a repeated exposition of the melody, later to intensify into a very expressive solo. The introduction of Custódio's double bass begins the longest piece on the album “Looking Back At Life”, a slow and emotional ballad, full of nuances and sound colors, developed largely by the double bass and the electric guitar, backed by the meticulous and subtle drumming by Lauren. The ternary time signature (3/4) comes together in “Fresco”, a lively musical cadence in which Agostinho delights us with his good control of his instrument and the excellent jazz language in his speech. We arrive at the last composition on the album with “A Bridge Remembered”, a fast tempo tune, on which the suggestive and energetic guitar flows, leaving space for a masterful and decisive drum solo by Lauren.
We should also highlight the successful sound dimension that encompasses the entire album. True to his eclectic principles, but equally to his versatility as a drummer, Michael Lauren offers us the creative sample of a music that moves beyond the conventional. A complete music, made with an attitude, according to his own words.