Press: Carlos Bica & Azul - "Things About"
Double bassist and composer Carlos Bica has carved out a jazz niche for himself with his inventive style of avant-lyrical jazz fused with Portuguese folk music. With Frank Mobus on guitar and Jim Black on drums, this is yet one more fantastic release. Their first album came 15 years ago, a nice long stretch to develop an empathic bond for each others sound and ideas. Things About is a pleasantly laid-back affair (for the most part), with Mobus's inquisitive guitar giving an eerie heard-but-not-seen, in-the-shadows effect, the footsteps echoing through Black's percussive accompaniment, as Bica prowls alongside both, close but just out of reach. On the Clean Feed label, which is often characterized by its artists love of dissonance; Bica has consistently applied a lighter touch to that aesthetic and has lately recorded albums drowned in tranquility. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
17 Dots, Jazz Picks by Dave Sumner
A permanent restlessness
With their fifth album, Carlos Bica & Azul reached the peak of maturity, located somewhere between jazz, pop and a total devotion to song. Carlos Bica, the bass player and composer, has managed to preserve an enviable creative vitality throughout his entire career. Moved on by inquisitive restlessness, he continues to search for the perfect balance between form and abstraction, between the magic of improvisation and sublime lines of song. With the universal appeal of his music and a rare mastery in song writing, Bica reasserts himself as one of the greatest names in European jazz.
O Público - Rodrigo Amado
Carlos Bica composes with great melodic inspiration, Frank Möbus artistry enables the melody to stand out, and Jim Black's genius reveals itself in delicate timbres; together they have produced the most serene and lyrical recording of the Trio Azul to date.
Best Jazz Album 2011 – Lisbon Time Out
If Carlos Bica is a musician who has long refused to do what others may already have done, the Trio Azul remains, despite the success of his solo work and with the Matéria-Prima group, the setting in which he is at his most expressive and original. As a bass player, Bica continues to impress with the precision and emotional depth of every note, pitch perfect every time he draws the bow, the consistent refusal to play the obvious, and the complete surrender to each moment of the music he plays, are just a few of the superior and absolutely distinctive traits of a musician who continues to represent Portuguese jazz in the most honourable manner.
jazzxxiproject - Paulo Barbosa
Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2011
It is an achievement in itself that Carlos Bica and his Trio Azul — with Frank Möbus and Jim Black — have never produced a less than extraordinary recording. Once again, Things About does not disappoint and shows Bica as an enviable melodic composer.
Best Jazz CD of the year 2011
Jornal "O Expresso"
Things About is excellent proof that three virtuosic musicians can put their egos aside to play what is required and befits these poetic musical gems.
Back to origins
New release Things About returns to the classic form of the trio: the pure and melodic sound of Bica's Double Bass reencounters Möbus's effectively sober guitar and Black's inexhaustible percussive creativity. The sound quality is of the detailed perfection the trio has long been known for. Flawless, individually and collectively, the ideas keep coming in the moments of solo exploration; Bica, Möbus and Black keep reinventing themselves and cleverly manage to escape the clichés ... This album is without doubt a valuable addition to the already rich Azul discography.
Bica has already established himself as one of the most inspired composers in modern jazz, but here he has treated himself to producing a string of pearls... The CD closes with "Dream of an Autumn Morning" but one wants to press repeat and listen to nothing else the whole winter through.
Time Out Lisbon Review by Jose Carlos Fernandes
I have to admit, I knew pretty much nothing about Carlos Bica until a few weeks ago. And then to find out this trio has been around for two decades made me feel pretty silly. But somehow Bica's Azul trio's new album, Things About (Clean Feed) really hit me. An album with a real sense of emotion and elegance that brims from the group's lyrical structure. It's unassuming at first, but as the disc moves forwards you begin to get sucked into the lovely tonal nature that each musician has created.
“Things About” feels like something America indie group, Low could have drawn up. It's a gentle midtempo piece that floats between folk, rock and jazz. Written by Bica and Mobus, who also share some beautiful interplay throughout the piece. Black adds soft touches as needed but also steps up the beat towards the end, giving the track some additional force.
There are times when Things About feels like the great trio records made by Gateway (John Abercrombie, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette). More for the mellow passages of the aforementioned than their uptempo fusion tracks. “Cancao Vazia” is one of those moments. A gentle piece that has traditional Portuguese qualities but also a sense of longing and adventure. Bica's bass wraps around you like a warm blanket. It's slow maneuvering but without this pace you can't fully digest the beauty of the material.
“2011” has a few distinct time signatures that help shift this piece beyond the normal jazz trio. It's rich with harmonics and patterns that definitely feel like an avant rock piece. Black and Bica change direction and improvise with real muscle, which also challenges the textured force of Mobus's performance. With “Sonho De Uma Manha De Outono” I may be again reminded of Gateway, only slightly. Bica delivers a well focused closing number that moves softly but embodies a number of different structured notes.
Maybe it was the time of day. Maybe it was the music I was listening to prior to this. Or maybe it was just the right time. But Things About is a quiet and richly diverse work that settled in after the first spin. For this newcomer to Carlos Bica, I have been completely blown away. I hope you are too. Highly Recommended.
Best portuguese album of 2011 — "Things About" is the most recent and probably the most perfect of Carlos Bica album's with his trio Azul.
... Black holds down the drum stool on Things About, the fifth release from the longstanding trio Azul, an assured vehicle for responsive interplay around Portuguese bassist Carlos Bica's lovely tunes. Black epitomizes delicacy and judiciousness, largely keeping time on brushes for most of the session, with just intimations of his latent potential in his idiosyncratic fills and bustling rattles. Bica projects a deeply enveloping sound and gives every note just the right amount of weight, as heard in his tasteful solos on the relaxed title track and the mournfully nagging “Cancao Vazia”. Frank Möbus' electric guitar never overpowers, as he takes a string of graceful chiming solos in a rich warm singing tone with horn-like single-note lines.
Separated from schmaltz by the intelligence of the guitar lines and the delicate poise of the bass and drums, an elegant simplicity pervades the set.
John Sharpe, nycjazzrecord
Portuguese bassist-composer Carlos Bica forged his intimate, ethereal chemistry with the Bill Frisell-inspired German guitarist Frank Möbus and the adventurous American drummer Jim Black more than 15 years ago. On their fifth recording together, they blend heartfelt folkloric melodies with avant-garde shadings to stirring effect, as heard on Bica originals like the somber “Say a Wish,” the edgy title track (co-written with Möbus) and the darkly delicate “Horses.” The bassist reserves his most lyrical playing for João Paulo's “Canção Vazia” and reveals his considerable bowing technique on “2011.” Black plays percussive colorist on his unaccompanied “Flow,” then rocks frantically on “Deixa Pra Lá,” which has Möbus skronking with distortion-laced vengeance. They close on a peaceful note with “Sonho de Uma Manhã de Outono.” A rare, rewarding encounter.
Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes
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