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Press: Carlos Bica & Azul - "Believer"

“The Magic of Composition”

For ten years double-bass player Carlos Bica’s trio Azul has fascinated its listeners. Living in Berlin, Portuguese Bica again and again creates a music that seems familiar yet excitingly transformed at the same time. On their ten-year anniversary the trio on "Believer" once more conjures their delicate balance between twinkle-toed poetry and a slightly off-the-wall humor... Oftentimes the listener is not even aware of the magic of the composition until the music has faded. However, there is always a touch of irony breaking the magic, as well as some cool stings delivered by the featured artist DJ Illvibe. The sound of the recording matches the music: it is as much poetical as it is refreshingly natural.
Stereoplay / “Klangtipp”

Pure serenity and foresight. There is no need for anything else. In times of a global fun society and arbitrariness (even in Jazz) it is good to still have islands like the music of Carlos Bica and Azul.
Jazz Podium

“Believer”, the new album of the remarkable trio Azul, shines neon blue and in a jazzy-melancholic way with ingenious spaces, telling about the other side of the wind. These are songs without words, relaxed soundscapes, whose mediterranean grooves are easily able to hold the balance between dramatic and playful art… Music for eternity.
“CD of the week” – Der Schallplattenman sagt

13 songs that fascinate in their sensual melancholia and radicalism that pushes the boundaries. However, they also come across with such a familiarity as if they were recordings of thriftily arranged evergreens… The Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa once wrote: “Fado is neither joy nor sadness, but the independent in-between.” This might be the best-fitting description for one of the most touching albums of this year.
Jazz Zeitung

Melodic landscapes that could have come from Radiohead or Tortoise.
Berliner Tagesspiegel

The magic of shaping.
Fono Forum / 5 stars

The Portuguese Carlos Bica is not only a brilliant double-bass player, he also represents a highly individual band concept…
Stereo / 5 stars

As a guest on the turntables DJ Illvibe discretely maintains the secret of the album's poetry.
Rolling Stone / 4 stars

Azul celebrate their ten-year anniversary with their excellent album “Believer”. It is the kind of jazz that cannot be completed, that searches and researches. It is therefore also much more precious – since it passes hills and valleys, oceans and tides without settling down – jazz without limits.
Correio da Manhã

Carlos Bica did it again.
“Believer” is one of his best and coherent works. It is Bica’s fourth record with his acclaimed project Azul. Two musicians that are regulars of the musical personality of the project accompany Bica: guitarist Frank Möbus and Drummer Jim Black. Furthermore DJ Illvibe (alias Vincent von Schlippenbach) on turntables contributes to the album. Each time we listen to the album we discover new odds and ends as well as subtle details in the arrangements, elements that help us with the (re)construction of the extremely solid underlying music concept. Carlos Bica claims that the focus is on the music not the musicians. And that is noticeable, especially in the way the musicians create every mood and every melody as well as the open spaces that allow for the songs to breathe their own rhythm which is so essential. Bica’s music is highly original and although the different influences are clearly recognizable – from alternative rock to Fado, from pop to contemporary classical music or folk –, it never becomes a musical “pastiche”. Quite the contrary, as all elements converge to a universal piece of art that communicates through jazz.
O Público

“The movie that needs to be made”
With Bica, the double-bass starts singing. And that is one of the secrets of the infectious beauty of his new album that will certainly and directly move up the list of the best national albums of the year. The album is called “Believer” and was released a year after his solo album "Single". In this comeback album we hear him again within the framework of the trio which opened his personal discography in 1996 with the self-titled album “Azul”. With Frank Möbus on guitar and Jim Black on drums Portuguese Bica has created the perfect showcase for his compositions. The ingredients have not changed, but the mixture has matured and now possesses a musical identity that melts with that of Carlos Bica and through which the double-bassist was able to produce remarkable results with “Twist” in 1999 and “Look What They’ve Done To My Song” in 2003.
Bica is one of the few Portuguese musicians establishing themselves internationally, and he is now a constant in the landscape of European jazz. Fortunately, his musical boundaries, however, are not easily defined or classified. “Believer” means a step forward into the revelation of a musical universe that goes well beyond the scope of jazz and surrenders to the influences of other musical genres without any sign of inferiority complexes. This openmindedness can also be seen in Bica's musical résumé and the long list of cooperations with a wide variety of artists, such as the dance or theater projects and collaborations with musicians like Carlos do Carmo or Kenny Wheeler, José Mário Branco or Aki Takase, Alexander von Schlippenbach or Janita Salomé. Bica’s hallmark is his experimental unrest that on “Believer” is marked by the work of German special guest DJ Illvibe. Attentive diffidence and a virtual tendency to minimalism permeate this record which bestows upon it something film-like. As if Bica made sketches of a plot and a stage setting for a movie that has yet to be shot.
Diário de Notícias

Is it correct to call Carlos Bica a jazz musician? Perhaps this label is unsufficient, and “Believer”, one of the best albums of the year 2006, provides the evidence. The starting point: Carlos Bica is one of the best Portuguese double-bassists and has formed the trio Azul with two brilliant musicians, Frank Möbus and Jim Black. “Believer” starts from jazz and sets sails to unlikely destinations: From rock via drum'n'bass to blues, the variety is enormous. Melodic worlds blend with carefully modelled scenarios. The overall result is a vast landscape Carlos Bica’s double-bass is leading us through. DJ Illvibe appears as a special guest, contributing to five songs with his turntables. Songs? – Exactly; for the structures Carlos Bica has built are so clear they could as well be accompanied with lyrics and voice. On “Believer” Carlos Bica proves his potency as a contemporary composer and far exceeds the limits of music. For this reason he not accidentally designed one of the best Portuguese albums of the year.
Disco Digital

 

 
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