Press: Carlos Bica + Matéria-Prima
What makes Carlos Bica an absolutely unique musician in the national – and I would even say international – jazz scene is this explicit and assumed contamination by pop music and the folklores external to Jazz... Matéria Prima is a perfect band as was the former, Trio Azul; it is another way in which Carlos Bica explores the pop/folk universe (in short, the universes); another way of brazenly merging it with jazz, until no one can really tell where one begins and the other ends. Matéria Prima is world pop music, with jazz included.
A central figure of the Portuguese jazz scene for a quarter of a century, Carlos Bica continues to seek new paths for his music, be it by renewing old partnerships or by engaging upon new collaborations with musicians from other generations... Throughout the multidimensional career of the double bass player, composer and arranger there have always coexisted, in a coherent and fruitful way, elements from different musical latitudes – ranging from jazz to contemporary classical music, through traditional Portuguese music and fado –, making it often difficult to unravel the role played by each in the construction of a musical universe of which we recognize its very own characteristics. It is precisely in this confluence of styles and influences – cleverly absorbed and processed – that lies the main asset of his work, free of constraints... After this beautiful album, we shall have to wait for the next step of this musician who has made us used to broad horizons and who continues surprising us.
A new album and a new group that came to make even greater my admiration for the enormous sensitivity that Carlos Bica has as a composer and for his ability to produce a music that, while starting off from jazz, being peppered with a certain dosis of rock, Americana and Portugália, and also with some scents of Latin American music, results in a perfectly consistent and original aesthetic. There are several reasons that make it urgent to listen to this new album: the hypnotic qualities of "D.C.", Bica's new theme that opens up the album, the envolving re-reading of "Canção Número Dois" – known from White Works, an album in which João Paulo interprets themes by Carlos Bica – and, among the better known, "Believer", "Iceland" and "I Think I've Met You Before", the humorous "For Malena" (by Marc Ribot), the mysterious "Paris Texas" and a magnificent piece in triple meter written by João Paulo.
While physicists require extremely sophisticated equipment, such as the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) to investigate the secrets of matter and discover new particles, jazz only needs the same old instruments as always – as well as an inquisitive mind – in order to showcase new worlds... The raw material (in Portuguese “matéria-prima”) of this new album is, first of all, a set of compositions by Carlos Bica, many of which are know from other of his travels, particularly from the fabulous trio Azul. However, after dissected and recombined by Matthias Schriefl (trumpet), Mário Delgado (guitar), João Paulo (piano, keyboards, accordion) and João Lobo (drums), the matter is transmuted by the alchemy of jazz into something else... Probably the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson will not change anything in your life. The same cannot be said of this album. (*****)
Time Out Lisboa – José Carlos Fernandes
Listening to this work has finally convinced me that Carlos Bica is not only a great double bass player. He is also a composer and arranger of the highest level. The music of this CD, recorded live during concerts in Portugal, is of an exceptional quality. Bica is a conceptualist who found in this group an ideal place to explore his ideas. The music you hear is powerful and imaginative, filled with themes with an unusual average of quality... Party music, without wailing.
Expresso – Raul Vaz Bernardo
We are all Bica fans - The new project of Carlos Bica exceeds expectations... This album is not (only) jazz, it blurs the boundaries of style: it is pop, and rock, and afro-cuban, latin, so many things at once. Bica has a great record here, very well designed, well executed, very accessible.
Ípsilon - Nuno Catarino
Portuguese bassist and composer Carlos Bica, like many in jazz circles, is a fruitful artist. Splitting time between Portugal and Germany, Bica has worked with scores of established musicians in a pair of great jazz scenes.
However, in contrast to many of his contemporaries, Bica's material is forceful, dramatic, and unafraid to take chances. This disc, recorded live with his Matéria Prima group in 2008, exemplifies this approach.
The album's opener is driven by a looping Western guitar riff, which is topped by a reverb-soaked lead that weaves in and out. A striking cello, trumpet, organ, and drum kit accent the lead with power and precision, and a full beat begins a lively groove.
Much of the rest of the album could be filed under jazz, but Bica's unique arrangements add bits of blues, lounge, psych rock, and more while maintaining a coherent style. It's an accessible and engaging effort.
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