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TGB CD review - All Music Guide

by Steven Loewy

Tuba, bass, and guitar: an auspicious, if unusual, combination. The closest that comes to mind is the group led by Italian guitarist Enzo Rocco, who has successfully incorporated the tuba (played by Giancarlo chiaffini) as the only horn in his trio.

To realize how good this Portuguese triad is you should first listen to the group perform Bud Powell's tricky "Un Poco Loco," Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners," and "Pipa Baquígrapho," the opening piece written by drummer Alexandre Frazão (with excerpts from Ellington's "Take the Coltrane"), although you certainly would not want to pass up Sérgio Carolino's astonishing multiphonics and technical mastery found on both tracks of "Lili's Funk." The tuba player brandishes amazing chops, which allow this usually clumsy brass behemoth to play with the fluidity of a trumpet, and with an adventurous spirit to boot. Connoisseurs of the tuba: this is one of the most exciting jazz tuba albums to come down the pike. Not only does the fascinatingly quirky writing -- with accelerating tempos, collective improvisation, and strong melody lines -- keep the listener wondering what is next to come, but the high level of performance from all three participants and the variety of moods make this much more than a novelty album.

"Só" is a slow dance number that could be played late at night with the lights dimmed -- but contains seeds of surprise. "Un Poco Loco" doesn't compromise an inch, its speed and intensity exacerbated by wonderfully warped electric guitar. How many tuba players have mastered Monk, as Carolino does on the wickedly wild version of "Brilliant Corners," with changing rhythms and tempos?

Drummer Frazão brilliantly navigates a very difficult terrain throughout as he aggressively holds the glue that makes it all stick together, while guitarist Mário Delgado rarely relents, his kaleidoscopic mélange of sounds thrusting forward. Definitely a winner.

Four & Half Stars