The Selva is an improvisation unit featuring Lisbon-based Ricardo Jacinto and Nuno Morão on cello and drums, and Rotterdam-based Gonçalo Almeida on double bass.Formed in 2016, their music explores the intersections among its member´s wide musical spectrums, proposing a synthesis based on a live narrative construction introducing multi-idiomatic approaches.
Ricardo Jacinto: cello + electronics
Gonçalo Almeida : doublebass
Nuno Morão : drums
Concerts: Convento de São Francisco (Coimbra), Attent Project Room (Rotterdam), Pletterij (Haarlem), POM (Eindhoven), De Ruimte (Amsterdam), Hot Club Gent (Ghent), Dialograum Kreutzung an Sankt Helen (Bonn), Theatro Gil Vicente (Barcelos), Atelier-Museu António Duarte (Caldas da Rainha), Hot Clube de Portugal (Lisbon), Cantinho da Tuna (Penedo), Damas (Lisbon), São Gregório (Caldas da Rainha), Carmo 81 (Viseu), GNRation (Braga), Bétun (Tui), Liceo Mutante (Pontevedra), Sonoscopia (Oporto), Sabotage (Lisbon), Het Bos (Antwerpen), Tiefgarage (Köln), Makroscope (Mulheim), MS Stubnitz (Hamburg), Koffie & Ambacht (Rotterdam), Oficinas do Convento (Montemor-O-Novo), Estrela Decadente (Lisbon), O’culto da Ajuda (Lisbon), Museu Malhoa (Caldas da Rainha), SMUP (Parede), Bar Irreal (Lisbon).
THE SELVA | BARBATRAMA
THE SELVA | Canícula Rosa
Clean Feed, 2019
Clean Feed, 2017
The Selva consists of Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Gonçalo Almeida (double bass) and Nuno Morão (drums and percussion). On their self-titled debut from 2017, the trio pushed the boundaries of (chamber) jazz and improvised music by referring to, for example, Asian and African music and blues. Following the 2019 successor Canícula Rosa , those influences had disappeared to make way for elements from folk, post-rock, ambient, drone, minimalism and krautrock. In addition, electronics made its appearance in the music of the trio. That electronic element has remained at Barbatrama , although it is now provided by Machinefabriek. Zuydervelt is also responsible for post-production. Compared to the Hydra Ensemble, the rhythmic aspect of The Selva is more important, which is not surprising with a drummer in the ranks. But beyond that too there is a different kind of music, perhaps a bit more outspoken and even more daring in its adventurousness. Barbatrama starts with the title piece, followed by eight titles that are variants of that word, although not all of them are anagrams. The first piece is short, exciting, consisting of a sparse number of notes by Almeida and Jacinto and rustling and dragging electronics. The rhythmic component is not only provided by Morão, as witnessed by ‘Ramartaba’, in which that rhythm is initially played by the two strings in the form of a motif that is also melodic. Machinefabriek puts its electronics in between. After more than two minutes, Morão takes over with an African-like rhythmic pattern. Zuydervelt overlays it with the processed sounds of Almeida and Jacinto, sounding loud and somewhat futuristic and thus contrasting nicely with the tribal rhythm. In ‘Barbamatra’, reverberation plays a major role and the playing of the strings is colorful, while the drums set accents without creating a fixed movement forward. The use of voices is introduced in ‘Tramabarta’, a short piece with an infectious rhythm and a repeating motif surrounded by echoing sounds. The piece will gradually squeak and creak. Talking voices can also be heard in ‘Trabamaba’, which must have suspense. It wouldn’t look out of place as a soundtrack to an exciting film noir. ‘Bamabartra’ is also full of tension, although the film noir association does not apply here. The Selva and Machinefabriek create the atmosphere with sketching bass and cello sounds, mysterious cymbal playing, dark toms and a subtle electronic layer. ‘Mabartrama’ is the longest piece on the album with over eight minutes. Much of what The Selva stands for on this album comes together in this piece. Jacinto’s playing is loaded with emotion. It is disrupted by Morão’s rhythmic teasing blasts, but Almeida’s pizzicato bass playing strangely keeps the piece going. What seems a little messy at first turns out to be a repeating pattern that, once familiar with it, makes an impression. In between, rough sounds can be heard, somewhat in the background. Gradually the piece starts to sound a bit more jazzy, but then the background is suddenly removed, so that only the cello remains. The electronics threaten, make a strange movement and push the piece back on track, but in a slightly different direction. Predicted rhythm is a determining factor in ‘Marmatraba’. Morão explains his rhythmic pattern sensitively and somewhat lightly, while Almeida and Jacinto test their low register. Suddenly, a derangement cello passage is superimposed, with a distorted sound, so probably Zuydervelt’s work, after which the cello ventures into more melodic territory. A male voice is added and the musical space slowly fills up. In the final piece ‘Bamartabar’ the rhythm is initially absent and the electronics of Machinefabriek are clearly present. Ambient textures seem to determine the course, until suddenly the course is shifted and a pulsating rhythm takes over, even though it is interrupted by an electronic drone. Only towards the end do we hear the bass and cello in acoustic form. The Selva is a trio that apparently does not intend to make the same kind of album twice. Of course the three musicians have their own style, but they are also versatile and focused on musical innovation. With regard to the latter, Machinefabriek is an ideal partner. On Barbatrama , the collaboration leads to an adventurous and fascinating album, in which the musicians use the electronic element in an inventive way, regularly come out surprising and stay far away from beaten paths.
by Peter Hollo
Made up of Ricardo Jacinto, cello, Gonçalo Almeida, double bass and Nuno Morão on drums, The Selva (jungle in Portuguese) coax surprising sounds from their surprising combination – the strings at times as percussive as the drums, but at times sounding like ancient folk or proto-classical music. After some releases on Portuguese avant-jazz label Clean Feed, their new album on Shhpuma, Barbatrama finds them working with Dutch sound-artist Machinefabriek, a familiar face around these parts, who very subtly re-arranges their acoustic improvisations – at times seemingly hardly there, at other times stretching or collapsing the sounds, or editing them into off-kilter rhythms. This all amounts to something spookily beautiful.
by Martin Longley
Following recent reports from Moers and Gent, here’s another festival that’s reconfigured itself into a smaller, virus-era existence, with healthily spaced-out audiences and an indigenous roster of artists. Usually, Jazz em Agosto, in Lisbon, will feature an international line-up, alongside its native Portuguese kernels, but now it’s happening over two weekends as the similarly bluntly-titled Jazz 2020, highlighting some of the country’s most significant local ensembles. The gigs are presented in the impressive outdoor auditorium of the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, with stone seating surrounded by looming trees and arching grasses, each set beginning at 9.30pm, to avoid any risk of sweltering heat.
The 12-piece Coreto (Bandstand, in Portuguese) made a suitably emphatic opening night appearance, with their horn players ranged on platforms around the rear of the drums, bass, guitar and piano. Coreto came down from Porto, which is Portugal’s second largest city, playing material that sounded further out-there than their earlier works, more abstract, and less mainline big band in nature. The key figure is composer João Pedro Brandão (flute, alto saxophone), but the line-up also includes other familiar Portuguese players such as Susana Santos Silva (trumpet) and Rui Teixeira (baritone saxophone).
The tunes were smoothly lyrical, but streaked with dark hues, particularly brought out by Teixeira, followed by a crisp SSS solo. Free improvisation opened the third number, but then cut into a Metheny-esque guitar solo from the minimally-named AP, with several subsequent pieces relying too much on his playing as a central backbone-pulse. The twinned trombones of Daniel Dias and Andreia Santos also made a dramatic mark, towards the set’s climax.
Susana Santos Silva returned on the second evening, as bandleader, but her Impermanence quintet (above) also included Brandão and pianist Hugo Raro, from Coreto. With Raro and bassist Torbjörn Zetterberg converted to electric manifestations, this is another band that’s altered its sonic character during the last year or two. Zetterberg was notably central, with a distorted flood that formed a fitting swamp-bed from which the horns frequently arose, gleaming and pristine. Surprisingly, they swapped to a circus-toned lollop, with skitter-organ, flute and Zetterberg vocals. One of the most startling episodes had just trumpet and saxophone together, ripping up some space.
Despite the presence of these crucial Portuguese outfits, the weekend’s most exciting discovery was The Selva (Jungle) a trio of Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Gonçalo Almeida (bass) and Nuno Morão (drums). This Lisbon-to-Rotterdam band is relatively unfamiliar, although they have a pair of excellent albums on the Clean Feed label.
The Selva string players were heavily effected by pedals, while the percussion was left stark, and often employing the sharp strike of metal extensions. Supposedly enjoying free improvisation, but often sounding like prepared compositions, the set’s shorter pieces moved through many tones and textures, Jacinto shifting between pizzicato (like a West African n’goni two-stringer, or a flamenco guitarist’s twisted-finger complexity) and bowing (usually steeped in fuzz and/or reverberation). The Selva stand somewhere between e.s.t. and The Necks. On this third night, the wind was blowing very fiercely, vying with the landing jet planes as they caused intense arboreal-rustling and grassy-bending, the atmospheric stage lighting adding to the environmental poignancy. Surely this was food for The Selva’s spontaneous shaping of brooding, portentous constructions? Cello and bass were drawn to drones, while drums ranged freely, creating a sculpted freak-out.
On the virus front, it was overly cautious to impose mask-wearing in a situation where the audience was already outside, and seated with two places empty between each person. Even folks who looked like they were probably same-household ‘couples’ were forced apart. The café also remained closed, so there was a somewhat austere atmosphere, compared to the recent Gent jazzfest. Although, Portugal is now emerging from the ‘red zone’ and Belgium is having a ‘red reprise’, so it seems that we can’t win. Outdoor events have become guerrilla actions, under fleetingly favourable conditions. Get ‘em while you can..!
THE FREE JAZZ COLLECTIVE
Reviews of Free Jazz and Improvised Music
by Paul Acquaro
I’m very thankful for the excellent condition of my rented mountain bike’s brakes at the moment. Since picking it up from a shop near the river, I had been riding up, up the Avenue de Liberdade, past the tourist shops with cork hats and colorful tiles, past the many restaurants and upscale shops, past the tree lined pedestrian strips, up into Parque Eduardo VII, and beyond. Now, I am headed quickly down a winding street, the ancient Roman aqueduct towering on my left, as well as large panel truck. I finally get to an underpass that takes me to the other side of the highway where I pick up what seems to be a newly created bike lane, which winds it way back up to my destination, the Parque Florestal de Monsanto.
At the top of the hill is a transmission tower and what seems to be an old listening station, a modern ruin serving as an observation deck, but currently closed due to COVID. Regardless, the sculpted hiking and biking trails offer plenty of other views, old ruins, and opportunity to get lost among the trees. Then, it is time to go down again, and I praise my brakes once more as I descend towards the Tower of Belem, by the riverside. Back at the aptly named Lisbon Bike Rentals, the fellow running the store tells me that he likes to get his morning biking-laps done up on the mountain, and I cannot think of a better way to begin a day myself.
So, yes I’m a bit tired by the time the concert starts in the evening, but it’s a good tired, and I’m ready for the transcendent experience that trumpeter Susana Santos Silva’s Impermanence band delivers.
After a brief pause, the three members of The Selva silently approach the stage: Ricardo Jacinto on cello, Gonçalo Almeida on double bass, and Nuno Morão on drums, a small group that generates an otherworldly sound.
They begin with the rumble of the bass and scraping overtones from the cello. Almeida proceeds to use mallets on his basses body, turning it into another drum. Supported by the ‘real’ drums, the band starts to hum, creating a dark, trepid thrum of sound. Jacinto tosses in a haunting theme to top it off. Then, the drums begin playing with a free-jazz style pulse, over the basses texture. The stage, suffused in red light, charges the ampitheater with a pregnant sinister atmosphere.
The Selva have two recordings out on Clean Feed, the self-titled 2017 debut and last years Canícula Rosa. They are described in various ways: minimalist, abstract, textural, and post-rock. Suffice to say, this is all true, and more. Emerging from the dark place that the trio just musically achieved, there is a repeated, simple figure from the cello and a groove amplified by the drums, making it safe to add ‘prog-rock’ to the list of descriptors. This movement, or section, builds in intensity and heft. Interestingly, it is only the drums that is offering any sense of melodic movement at the moment, the others are building layers of sound. This eventually dissolves, and the the bass takes over with a clean rhythmic figure, as the cello begins a new Gamelan-like phrase. The two begin stacking sounds anew, with moments of interlocking rhythms and textures. The final movement features Almeida and Jacinto bowing, the sound is awash in overtones while Morão finds an asymmetrical groove to ratchet up the energy. Settling into long, static lines, the drama increases until the gut wrenching tension breaks.
The next piece (after this 25 minute epic, the pieces get shorter in duration, but even more intense) begins with some playful mayhem, which leads to some intense sawing at the strings. Then, a classical-tinged melody appears. The following piece begins with some feedback from the cello – it’s not entirely possible to tell if it’s intentional or not, but the bassist picks up on it and begins an insistent line. The drums then clicks into a minimalist groove and the bass line transfers to the cello, and the trio begins spinning a captivating sonic net.
As the following piece begins, a group of people leave the amphitheater. Astounding. The music isn’t of course traditional jazz, nor is it gentle, rather it is texture, tension, and time, spinning around in the air before you. This is musical energy, and the group is now playing with space, the bass going deep, offering deep oscillating tones (there are electronics being used as well) as the cello delivers a mournful droning melody. Single pizzicato notes carry the listeners across the chasm. I found it hard to leave, even after the music was over.
It’s windy this evening, colder as well. The day was brilliant however, as I walked through some new neighborhoods from the Gulbenkian grounds where I had been sitting to finish up the previous nights write up (and ate a Pastel de nata from the cafeteria) to the ruins of the Moorish Castelo de São Jorge, perched high above the river front. With few tourists, it was a pleasure to take in the views and walk over antiquity.
by Miguel Estigma
Na sua segunda obra, o trio português The Selva usa seu conceito trans-idiomático anterior para cobrir novos caminhos. Em vez de atravessar atmosferas clássicas de música de câmara com motivos rítmicos africanos dentro de uma configuração acústica, encontrará agora uma mistura eletroacústica estranhamente sedutora, através de pedais de efeitos e dispositivos electrónicos que interferem no ruído, de melodias folclóricas, exercícios texturais abstractos e pós-rock. Sem perder a ambiguidade do free jazz versus a música improvisada, escolhida desde o primeiro dia pelo violoncelista Ricardo Jacinto, pelo contrabaixista Gonçalo Almeida e pelo baterista Nuno Morão. O novo The Selva apresentado por “Canícula Rosa” é caracterizado pelo uso minimalista e repetitivo de padrões groovy, parecido com o que ouvimos de artistas como Dawn of Midi, The Necks. Quando uma melodia toma forma, transporta-nos para uma floresta montanhosa, mas depois vem um riff de metal muito metropolitano ou uma nuvem de fumaça industrial de alvoroço eléctrico branco: é intrigante, é insano, é errado, mas o sentido e a beleza são impressionantes . Uma coisa é certa: você nunca ouviu um grupo de cordas fazer algo assim. Aqui está uma prova de que os instrumentos não definem a música – é a música que determina o que os instrumentos devem fazer.
SPONTANEOUS MUSIC TRIBUNE
After a large dose of Portuguese acid-rock who likes to improvise, it’s time for free chamber music that likes … rock emotions, African polyrhythmics and – which is obvious in this situational context – creates music according to very loose artistic assumptions.
The trio is called The Selva, which in every language on the Iberian Peninsula means jungle! We wrote about their previous album about a year and a half ago, and today we will focus on their youngest child, who is called Canicula Rosa (Clean Feed, CD 2019), which can be described as Pink Canyon. Since we already know so much, let’s recall Selwa’s staff: Ricardo Jacinto – cello, Gonçalo Almeida – double bass and Nuno Morão – drums. Recorded in January last year, the album lasts 42 minutes and 16 seconds, and consists of eight stories.
The thunder of the double bass, made at the entrance, places the opening song in somewhat metaphysical circumstances – the space around it trembles, murmurs, the first sounds of the cello come from far away, the plates resonate. Around the echo of pulsating silence – all like a suffering chamber, waiting for a sip of holy water. The narrative is built up of small phrases of the smaller stringed guitar, modest, but definitely non-chamber drumming and a double bass strumming with expectation. Fonia seems to be extremely low-floor – the threat of understatement, strange paintings on the walls, and for the final of the episode longer cello passages. The start of the second story is very smooth, without silence in this case – the rhythmic finger on the cello neck clearly sets goals and determines the level of expectations. Progressive drumming to emphasize the stage situation, the dynamics of the whole like a liberated Madredeus without the voice of divine Teresa. Rhythm, molar key to the dance, infinity of Portuguese saudades, advanced version. The contrabass sculpts a furrow on the griffin, disturbs the calmness of dynamic contemplation, sows artistic disorder. After a moment’s hesitation, he connects to the rhythmic structure of the song and brings it to a happy ending. Silence takes place just after the last sounds of the cello.
The next episode is born of the laziness of both strings hung on the strings. Slow motion bizzare! They flow in a common trough and are accompanied by resonating plates. The sound of the double bass seems to be much more biting, and the whole thing breathes sadness, like a starved dragon. Deep drumming builds dynamics, the strings continue in the sound. Step by step the narrative thickens – sensual chamber music, which persistently looks for post-rock expression, and then dims even more beautifully. The fourth song is quite predatory – twice pizzicato and loud drums. Aggressive excesses, also played arco. Free music in the open air – change chases change. Also phrases of jazz walking that increase the level of expression of the whole. A two-minute pearl of temperamental chaos! Bravo!
The fifth story, again with new elements – this time the double bass tugs the strings, and the cello is subjected to clever preparations. Plates, wet snares and narration, which hangs over and over again, awaiting the mystery of creation. Cello begins to play scorched baroque, the aura blooms and flashes with small fireworks. Semitic climate, a room with a view of Tejo, straight from the extremely sad Santa Catarina hill. As part of the audio counterpoint, cello dirtys its sound with a scratchy pickup. Jazz drumming builds new emotions, and the small string comes back to the Baroque. At the very end a modest pile-up – each musician adds to the fire! Wonderful! Without undue delay, the sixth song – cello again takes on sulfur in the mouth, sizzling and lashes. Rhythmic pizzicato double bass invites you to a dynamic journey. All three go to dance, the strings imitate, emphasizing the importance of the moment. Drummer beats the beat – chamber goes rock & roll! On the last straight, the sour mantra!
The seventh song, so the end credits are slowly visible. Rhythm and repetition of a double bass, again the power of dirt on the cello neck, percussion surf. Pure acoustics and harsh side by side. A feisty and rough, emotional study. Finally the grand finale of the album – peace and anxiety, like fire and water, strained strings, snare and cymbal resonance. A small baroque cello and a nervous but rhythmic flash of the double bass. The whole tastes goodbye, probably not only with this album. Great, beautiful ocean saudades. Active drumming, resonant rustling of plates on the last journey.
Just under two years ago, Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Gonçalo Almeida (double bass) and Nuno Morão (drums) released as the Selva the debut album of the same name. You could describe the music on it as experimental room jazz with influences from various corners of the world. The three musicians have other musical activities besides this trio, but fortunately they found time to work on a successor to the successful debut.
That successor is now available, entitled Canícula Rosa. The trio then shifted the musical course. The Eastern and African influences have disappeared and have given way to elements from folk, post-rock, ambient, drone, minimalism and krautrock. That is a mishmash of styles, but it is entrusted to Portuguese musicians to brew a coherent and tasty whole. In addition, electronics are introduced in the music of The Selva.
The new album is even better and more exciting than the debut album. That tension can be cut directly into opener “Dume Pardo”. Ominous sounds in the background and abrasive and sliding percussion are responsible for that. Cello and bass play a melody in unison, with the darkness of the double bass adding to the tense atmosphere, which is further enhanced by Morão’s playing with mallets on toms and cymbals and later with brushes on the snare. Meanwhile, the melody is wonderful.
“Tiki Prussia” sounds much more playful because of the smooth plucked game of Jacinto, who plays a repetitive motif, on which he will vary more and more. Morão adds his lively rhythmic playing, while Almeida plays ironed notes with which he slowly increases the intensity. Ambient and drone we hear in “Urdi Verdoso”, in which the drone is put down by cello and double bass at the same time, while the bustling drums are the troubled factor. Jacinto and Almeida lay different lines across the layered drone, so that something always happens in the piece, which is quite abstract but has a high emotional value and is exciting because of the increasing tension and intensity.
The beacons are being moved again for the short “Arnold Lazuli”, which is experimental in design. All musicians show their investigative side, individually and in relation to each other, until Jacinto and Almeida find a common line and start working on it. Morão rumbles and plows his way through the play. “Japa Titanium” initially seems to become a slow jazz track with a melancholy, folk-like melody in the cello. After three and a half minutes, however, an electronic effect appears in the cello playing and the piece changes color, not very abruptly but in a logically sounding way. Jacinto then resumes his acoustic playing, but his playing now has a different, more expressive character. At the end, the beautifully constructed track is quietly finished.
Electronics are abundant in “Manimal Cerúleo”, as an underlying layer that follows the movements of the unison playing bass and cello. Morãa’s smooth and angular rhythm is the constant as Almeida and Jacinto shift their two-part lines. “Arnaldo Cobalto” starts with a solid two-tone pattern of the bass and free drumming. Jacinto overlays his electronically manipulated cello sound. He lets go of that electronic game and picks it up again. The play on Morão cymbals at the end is beautiful.
The music of The Selva lies against (modern) classical music in the closing piece “Mel Anil”, in which the emotionally ironed melody lines of Jacinto are central, while Almeida pizzicato provides a controlled accompaniment. The disruptive accents of Morão are the improvisation component and provide an exciting effect.
The Selva’s debut made an impression, but Canícula Rosa does even more. The combination of two low string instruments and drums proves to lend itself perfectly to the adventurous music that Jacinto, Almeida and Morão deal with and their flexible interaction has led to this soulful, varied and exciting album with a lot to offer musically.
Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Gonçalo Almeida (b), Nuno Morão (dms)
26 mars 2018
Il existe des musiciens dont la réputation au-delà des frontières de leur pays n’est pas forcément immense, mais lorsque la scène est florissante comme celle de Lisbonne, on se rend compte qu’ils ont une position centrale, qu’ils font de nombreuses rencontres, voire qu’ils essaiment leur musique dans d’autres pays, avec d’autres scènes. C’est le cas du violoncelliste Ricardo Jacinto, qu’on a pu entendre avec Luis Lopes mais aussi avec le tromboniste et électronicien britannique Tullis Rennie. On pourrait même étendre l’image à l’ensemble du trio The Selva, puisque le contrebassiste Gonçalo Almeida, qu’on a pu entendre récemment avec Rodrigo Amado dans The Attic, est installé à Amsterdam et que le batteur Nuno Morão, membre de l’ensemble Instable, est très investi dans la musique électronique, notamment avec son compatriote lusitanien Travassos.
Ne nous y trompons pas : The Selva n’est pas l’union de trois outsiders. C’est la construction patiente, charnelle et organique d’une recherche de mimétisme entre les cordes et les peaux dans une suite improvisée en neuf parties, comme autant de clairières plus ou moins dégagées dans une forêt dense et foncièrement hostile. En témoigne la lumière éclatante de « V » en opposition aux ténèbres perçues dans « VIII », tout en sifflements brumeux et inquiétants. La métaphore végétale n’est pas fortuite ; l’album de Jacinto avec Luis Lopes s’appelait Gardens. Selva en portugais signifie jungle. Un postulat plus touffu qui s’accommode à merveille des échanges parfois tendus entre violoncelle et contrebasse.
Les morceaux sont courts, comme pour mieux encore illustrer le bras de fer, mais deux morceaux d’une dizaine de minutes permettent d’approfondir la plongée dans un bosquet de ronces : « VII » le titre le plus sombre, est l’occasion de se perdre totalement, entre les pizzicati et les frappes qui viennent les souligner dans une belle progression collective. The Selva est avant tout une histoire d’équilibre. Il est parfois ténu entre les cordes, notamment lorsque les archets prennent le dessus (« VIII »). Il peut être remis en cause lorsque Jacinto prend l’initiative de manière très aventureuse à l’archet (« II »). Mais globalement, le trio s’appuie sur le travail discret de Morão, véritable centre physique d’un orchestre à l’entropie galopante qui nous propose, sur le label Clean Feed, une exploration très intense.
THE SQUID´S EAR
review by Paul Serralheiro
The Selva (Jacinto / Almeida / Morao): (Clean Feed)
The Selva’s debut album is nothing if not enigmatic, in which lies much of its charm. It’s a multipart journey, a suite really, in which the music is as diverse as the recording is impeccable. The trio consists of cellist Ricardo Jacinto, double bassist Goncalo Almeida and drummer Nuno Morao, and much more than that is difficult to render with consistent clarity as the disc progresses.
The first track throws the listener headlong into a world of vague pan-geographic reference as string players slide, glide and duck amidst sharp percussion staccato. By the starkest contrast, the second part sounds as if it could be a chamber music composition by Arvo Part with a little Krzysztov Penderecke thrown in for good measure. At times, the group demonstrates the rhetorical devices traditionally associated with improvisation, namely in much of the third section. More often though, it can be difficult to tell exactly which instrument plays which role and to what ends. In the eighth part, stereo placement informs me that bass is on the left and cello on the right, or at least that is how it has been throughout the disc, but only that bit of remembrance can be relied upon to assign sound to player. What actually emerges conjures memories of a particularly poignant Vision Festival moment, when Hamiet Bluiett and Kidd Jordan hit the stage playing “Cherokee” in the highest register possible, to the point that instrument type became irrelevant. The Selva take a page out of that book, as high-register supplications and exhortations evolve and devolve across a soundstage in which only percussion is readily identifiable.
One of the strangest and most fascinating things about the disc is the subtlety with which environment seems to change. Nothing radical occurs, but the sense of reverberation seems somewhat malleable as the performers change roles, adding a layer of intrigue to an already absorbing set of pieces. This is not a disc of solos; rather, group unity seems to be the order of the day, and anyone interested in an exemplary model of the way spontaneous interaction breeds unity need look no further.
by Rui Eduardo Paes
CONTRA OS MUROS
Ricardo Jacinto, Gonçalo Almeida e Nuno Morão deram início na SMUP, dia 8 de Outubro, a um trio que não poderia ter um nome mais político, pois alude ao acampamento de refugiados em Calais e à vergonha que é construir-se mais um muro na Europa. Em termos musicais, o que fazem é deitar muros abaixo, tocando uma música improvisada que soa a outras músicas que foram escritas, assim desobedecendo ao fundamentalismo “não-idiomático”.
A não ser pela adopção da linguagem da improvisação, os músicos que constituem o novo projecto The Selva não são particularmente políticos, no sentido de que habitualmente não passam qualquer mensagem específica de carácter intervencionista – e inclusive num caso como o dos Albatre de Gonçalo Almeida, nascido no “underground” holandês e partilhando algumas características “punk-okupa” deste. Só a música propriamente dita explicita o seu posicionamento, tendo em conta a filosofia que desde a origem está por detrás da opção musical de improvisar em contexto igualitário, sem quaisquer funções hierárquicas, e de liberdade da expressão, seguindo apenas as determinações do momento.
Acontece, porém, que o nome escolhido para este trio de Ricardo Jacinto, o já referido Gonçalo Almeida e Nuno Morão tem uma carga imensa: The Jungle é a designação que foi dada ao acampamento que se instalou em Calais, na França, por refugiados que tentam atravessar o Canal da Mancha para iniciarem uma nova vida no Reino Unido. Nesse mesmo local, de modo a serem impedidos de tal objectivo, está a ser erigido um muro nas margens da auto-estrada, mais uma vedação numa Europa que se esqueceu da vergonha que era o Muro de Berlim e está a cair pelo precipício.
Ou seja, se o significado implícito da música improvisada se foi desvanecendo ao longo do tempo, perdendo as conotações libertárias e esquerdistas que tinha nas décadas de 1960 e 70, com este recém-estreado grupo da cena nacional esse alcance volta para o primeiro plano. Mas fica por aí: incluir na música, por exemplo, elementos “étnicos” da Síria, do Iraque, do Afeganistão, da Somália ou do Sudão (apenas cinco dos países de onde fugiram as pessoas que ficaram retidas em Calais) seria não só panfletário, coisa que a livre-improvisação sempre procurou não ser, como também uma tentativa algo ridícula de teatralização de uma condição existencial que não é propriamente a destes três portugueses.
Em vez disso, The Selva propõe-se fazer outra coisa, e esta sim, bem mais interessante: tocar uma música improvisada que não soa tipologicamente como a generalidade daquilo a que assim chamamos, tão cifrada estilisticamente é essa tal de “música improvisada” quanto o são todas as outras músicas idiomáticas, apesar da classificação de “não-idiomatismo” que lhe foi dada. O que se ouviu no concerto de apresentação na SMUP, a 8 de Outubro, funcionou como se os músicos em causa estivessem a escapar-se de uma outra Selva, a do condicionamento da criação musical ao tipo de conteúdos que foram predefinidos para esta área. Sim, mesmo a música que se apresenta como livre deixou de o ser, e este trio vem afirmar esse triste desfecho e, melhor ainda, está a contrariá-lo de forma muito inteligente.
Como? Improvisando algo que agora pode parecer Bach ou qualquer outro autor de música antiga que se tenha apaixonado pelo particular timbre do violoncelo e mais tarde tocar o refrão do que poderia ser um tema dos Soft Machine ou de alguma banda de rock progressivo, com a substancial diferença de que é um contrabaixo, com o seu som profundo e acústico, que define os pilares de sustentação. A proposta que The Selva nos faz é, pois, levar os procedimentos da improvisação para outros léxicos, confundindo a sua característica abordagem com toda uma série de factores que vamos reconhecendo ou julgando reconhecer, vindos da pop, da folk, da música erudita, do jazz e mais ainda. Sem nunca temer o tonalismo e a melodia, os padrões rítmicos definidos, os conceitos clássicos de beleza inerentes a um certo entendimento de lirismo e poesia, o “groove” ou o “swing”, os fraseados “cantabile” e tudo aquilo que se proibiu na música “livremente” improvisada.
Só por si, um programa assim seria algo de extraordinário, mas Jacinto, Almeida e Morão executam-no de um modo ainda mais entusiasmante: há alturas em que parece que estão a seguir partituras, incorporando passagens escritas nas improvisações, mas deixando-nos na dúvida sobre se assim é ou não. O que este par de ouvidos acha é que esses momentos são mimetizações improvisadas das músicas notadas existentes, mas foi propositadamente que não quisemos confirmar isso com o grupo no final do concerto na Parede. Não conhecer qual é realmente o “modus operandi” da fórmula The Selva, não desvendar o mistério, resulta particularmente delicioso. Não é, afinal, a improvisação simplesmente uma outra maneira de compor, escrevendo no ar? Quem não quer que se construam muros tem uma boa solução: não vá buscar tijolos…
by Józef Paprocki
“Portuguese trio’s debut album is mainly an unusual number of references, but also absolutely unusual in multi threaded improvised music homogeneity. Resonate here because references to the music of the Far East, Africa, sometimes deconstructed blues echoes, sometimes even long music of Renaissance Europe. But all this is as if covered by two curtains like a photograph taken with a filter. The first filter is a jagged texture of improvised music, so great for creating performative sound spaces. The second filter is more unusual – it is a certain formula of building music in the space of melancholy, longing; No rappelling, pastel rather than expressive, strong colors. And what is interesting is the melancholy is completely different from the well-known even from northern Scandinavian recordings. Cellist Ricardo Jacinto Nuno Morao and drummer – the only known me earlier musician – esteemed bassist Gonçalo Almeida create the world quite unusual and previously unknown to me, using the traditions of world music, jazz, European classical music and the third stream. They do all this using only with acoustic instruments, and in addition to using them in a very traditional way, without distortions or preparation. The result is a remarkable and inspirational recording that you just have to get acquainted with”.
Album studio recording, made in Lisbon at the end of last year and at the beginning of the current, is filled with a 47-minute uncut album which we provide to Clean Feed Records. Under the name of the disc and at the same time the formation of Selva hides three musicians – Gonçalo Almeida on double bass, Ricardo Jacinto on cello and Nuno Morão on drums. Nine episodes marked with digits.
The intro has only percussive attributes, although a large part of the cello involved significantly stimulated from the first second. The drummer is a strong jazz drive, while the bass player is silent. (II) The strings have a remarkably intimate flow. The drum is again feisty. Cello passage – for the variety – very quiet, even dignified and the sound of the instrument exceptional. (III) The first of the two long, seemingly essential fragments of Selva . Silence, made on the side sonorous whisper of double bass, violin cello chord in a chord, like a guitar. The sound of both instruments is baroque, but intriguingly dirty. The narrative rolls out with a thick stitch, while the cello is slightly crowded . Quickly change the direction of the journey ( all music by the musicians, adds reviewer) – contrabass falls into the amok improvisation, drums brush the swing and the cello plays clean, crystal beautiful passages in the spirit of ancient chamber music. The latter, despite frequent changes in narrative mode, rules and distributes cards. In the finale, which lasts nearly a quarter of a century, the stringers share similar inner monologues, and the drummer dries consummately (from the Reviewer’s Crew: the latter, albeit active, at the level of the creation giving way to the operators of stringed objects.) It tastes delicate trance, mantric singing. (IV) Sonorist Cello Equinox, at the rear of the energetic rhythm section. (V) Jacinto, the modus operandi of this trio, again in search of new means of expression. Almeida is looping around a large double bass, and Morão drumming on a large reverb. Acoustic burrs on both string sets. Chords, stains, special characters. Narration tastes with engaged rock. The quality melting pot lasts at best! From the reviewer’s kibble: maybe a little bit of drumming, in place of drumsticks. Cello again in brilliantly acoustical style, escaping into the meta-abyss, into the abyss of non-sense, “adds the reviewer – poet. It departs like a ship without a destination port, a cosmically beautiful sound . (VII) The second key phrase – agile fingers on the strings, plate and snare in resonance, focus, oniric phase of abandonment and constructive unhappiness (truly Portuguese … we have all the time ). No one in the head of the escalation in the head, although musicians do not avoid small dynamics (or perhaps sono bite?) Asked the reviewer, because he does not know what exactly to note in his kitchen. Cello in mig corresponds to the needs of the reviewer! Double bass polishes strings and drums … drums. (VIII) Strings with nozzle, whistle and spruce , how cute! Beautiful dances of two swollen smilies. (IX) Dronne passages of heavily soiled string instruments. The drums tremble, resonate, shudder. The power of acoustic distortion (the most expressive, in truth, the best moment of this very good disc!). And again it smells of sophisticated psychedelia. Instrumental voices from the off , groaning, grunts. Let the climate of the finale of this story determine only the right direction of the musical development of The Selva trio!
by Philip Coombs
The Free Jazz Collective
The Selva (Clean Feed) 2017 ****
There is something instantly appealing to The Selva. I also find a pure joy in listening to a trio of musicians that I’ve never heard of before. This, obviously, stifles any perceptions that I may bring with history. To add to the mystery, it’s a self-titled album, The Selva, that’s it. And to go even one step further, no song titles, just roman numerals from 1 to 9.
Track I and II, gave me little taste of what was to come, a prologue if you will. These 2 tracks blend the familiar with the unknown, a theme that occurs several times over the course of the record. It is track III, where Ricardo Jacinto (cello) Gonçalo Almeida (double bass) and Nuno Morão (drums) take a nugget and expand on it to its fullest. It’s like Track 1 is Red and Track 2 is Blue but Track 3 is the Purple. By the time it is over, III is pounding and swirling and headed for a heart pumping conclusion that doesn’t disappoint.
The Selva go straight back to three short tracks again giving us some more structured music to ponder before heading into dark free jazz territory on Track VII.
As much as the cello and double bass can alternately be called melancholy and sadness, The Selva, does stray away from such obvious emotions giving us both extended technique and power at the same time without falling into any lower register traps. The drumming of Morão help in this endeavour and it won’t happen on his watch. He really gets the spotlight on track VII as he rumbles his way in and around the cello and bass entanglement.
I do like the structure of the record. There is just enough free vs. composition to store these three Portuguese musicians in my head and see where they go with this.
by Gert Derkx
Witness who has released releases from Portugal in recent years has a very lively jazz and free impro scene that is populated by some fantastic musicians. Three of the musicians bundle the forces under the denominator The Selva, bringing them a kind of chamber jazz. There is conscious “kind of” because the trio weaves influences from different parts of the globe and genres through their music, so the term ‘kamerjazz’ does not cover the load completely. Considering the trio experimental drive, you could label the music as an experimental camera jazz. It does not matter as long as quality is paramount. That is certainly the case with The Selva .
The Selva consists of Ricardo Jacinto (cello), Gonçalo Almeida (double bass) and Nuno Morão (drums and percussion). It is a non-everyday combination of instruments, which makes the titular debut interesting. However, the record offers much more remarkable. Without the music that radiates ambition, the trio extends the boundaries of jazz and improvised music by referring to, for example, Asian and African music and blues. This does not happen with great gesture, but subtly, as if that music always exists in this way.
Almeida, operating from Rotterdam, is a productive bassist who is familiar with the heavy jazz trio Albatre, from the trio LAMA, from ROJI and from The Attic , which featured earlier this year, where Almeida works with saxophonist Rodrigo Amado and drummer Marco Franco . Jacinto is also a visual artist in addition to musician. With Joana Gama (piano) and Luís Fernandes (electronics) he recently released the Harmonies album, inspired by Erik Satie’s music. Morão is a member of the major IKB ensemble and the even bigger experimental big band Variable Geometry Orchestra, which last year showed Maat Mons .
Morão feels like a fish in the water in this much smaller company. You would expect the two string instruments to be the dominant factor on The Selva , but this is considered outside the tasteful, clever and inventive game of drummer / percussionist. Where the boundary between cello and bass sometimes fades, it is Morão which represents the distinguishing element.
The album contains nine pieces, all titled ‘The Selva’ and numbered from I through IX. In length, the tracks vary from one and a half minutes to fifteen minutes. The first piece is the shortest and is characterized by percussion play and a clearly-heard influence from the far east, naturally embedded in Western improvisation. ‘The Selva II’ is almost the opposite: no percussive sounds of string instruments, but thoughtful sounds and a beautiful melody, somewhat disregarded by the percussion.
Much more free sound the two long tracks that can be found on The Selva . Different game techniques are tested (without a pull-on box being pulled open), while playing in a gorgeous manner. Particularly, the Japanese influence that is heard in the second part of ‘The Selva III’ is self-evident in an Afrikaans tinted section, in which cello and bass play the repetitive motive and the percussion of Morão moves around and between them. The seventh piece is slightly darker and rhythmically intriguing, long time without a real pace. At the end, a powerful rhythmic pattern is created.
‘The Selva IV’ sounds fragmentary, creating suspense by Jacinto. Much playful is the fifth piece, with Almeida’s fast rhythmic game, a few fierce tunes of Morão and short-pleading sounds of Jacinto. The sixth track is somewhat loom and blues oriented, which makes the piece a lot more conventional than the rest of the record. Particularly beautiful is the moving cellular game in the background. Some sounds describe the experimental eighth piece, after which the tone is very heavy on the closing ‘The Selva IX’, but the game is as unorthodox as on the piece before.
Jacinto, Almeida and Morão know how to convince The Selva on all fronts: rhythmically and melodically, but also when it comes to exploring possibilities and moving musical boundaries. The music sounds controlled and imaginative at the same time. The Selva is a unique and amazingly fascinating album.
by Stewart Smith
The Selva is a new trio featuring cellist Ricardo Jacinto, bassist Gonçalo Almeida, and drummer Nuno Murão. The Rotterdam-based Almeida has already appeared on one of the year’s finest albums – The Attic with saxophonist Rodrigo Amado and drummer Marco Franco – and The Selva’s self-titled debut is another contender, sounding strikingly new. Its sees all three players deploying a range of extended and conventional techniques to explore unusual textures and shapes. The shorter tracks, which range from under two minutes to five, zoom in on particular idea: sighing whale song cello over tentative bass steps, brooding post-rock in a Spanish key, whistling harmonics over ritualistic hand drumming, revving motorbikes and slumbering dragons. The two extended tracks extend the language of free improvisation with Japanese and African influences, all atmospheric gagaku and abstracted pygmy dances. There’s a beautiful clarity and light to this music, with Murão’s drumming providing a subtle rhythmic pull. A fascinating and highly affecting listen.
Todd McComb’s Jazz Thoughts
by Todd McComb’s
The Selva, an album from the latest batch on Clean Feed. It features Portuguese cellist Ricardo Jacinto (b.1975), and while I’ve heard a few things by Jacinto, including some albums featuring electronics, I see that I’d yet to mention him in this space. The Selva also includes Gonçalo Almeida (double bass) & Nuno Morão (drums), with whom I was not otherwise familiar — such that the trio has the same constitution as the recently discussed (in April) Spinning Jenny. Although the latter features echoes of rock & jazz per se, it is also more fractured overall than The Selva, which generally maintains continuity on each of its nine tracks. Of these, two are longer, and travel through different scenes or styles, while also maintaining e.g. pulse, but most are shorter & quite gestural. The album also has a distinctive “world” vibe, with not only the expected “jungle” hubbub of mysterious creatures, but some explicitly East Asian evocations as well, especially qin music in the second part of the long track #3. (So it’s not the typical, rhythm-oriented world vibe sort of production.) Compared to other recent albums interrogating continuity, The Selva uses track breaks to restart with different sounds, influences or ideas — so that’s one approach. The result is a rather concentrated listening experience, but never of overwhelming density… mini-worlds are projected, one might even say studies of texture, rhythm & resonance, including melodic or legato moments, harmonics, etc. Sometimes the instruments sound as one, but more often, Jacinto is the clear front line player in what is basically a “cello trio” in the bebop sense (and the album does involve ostinato forms). Many of the “studies” seem to involve fusing a couple of basic, yet culturally divergent, musical ideas in novel ways. So we’ll see what’s next from this trio in the broad arena of (Portuguese) contemporary violin-family, world music-tinged improvisation.
1x microfone condensador membrana pequena c/ tripé baixo (ex.: Shure SM81, AKG C415, Neumann KM184)
1x amplificador: cabeça Ampeg SVT-CL + coluna Ampeg SVT410HLF
1x direct output do amplificador (XLR balanceado)
1x cadeira s/ braços ou banco de piano
1x monitor full range c/ mistura independente
1x microfone condensador membrana pequena c/ tripé baixo ou clip (ex.: Shure SM81, AKG C415, Neumann KM184)
1x amplificador: cabeça Ampeg SVT-CL + coluna Ampeg SVT410HLF
1x direct output do amplificador (XLR balanceado)
1x banco alto
1x monitor full range c/ mistura independente
1x kit completo de bateria jazz (bombo, tarola, timbalão, timbalão de chão, 1x suporte pratos choque 2x suporte pratos livres, banco com ajuste de altura)
microfones: 2x overheads, 1x mic bombo, 1x tarola, 1x timbalão, 1x timbalão de chão (ex.: Shure, Audix, AKG)
1x linha de monição para uso de sistema in-ear (jack TRS stereo)
1x monitor full range c/ mistura independente