André Carvalho named The Garden of Earthly Delights after the Hieronymus Bosch painting of the same title, and the homage doesn’t end there. The intense detail of that medieval triptych inspired the bassist to create a suite that also covers a wide range of moods, from gentle to sinister, alternately flowing without tempo and rocking hard. If the concept sounds heavy-handed or susceptible to pretension, have no fear; Carvalho’s execution avoids those pitfalls.
Part of the allure comes from his orchestration. The frontline consists of trumpeter Oskar Stenmark and tenor saxophonists/flutists Eitan Gofman and Jeremy Powell, who double on bass clarinet and soprano saxophone respectively. Carvalho exploits the horns in unique sonic blends, as on the opening “Prelude” (which is actually a full piece), where they enter in layers. The rhythm section is completed by guitarist André Matos and drummer Rodrigo Recabarren, who frequently lock into edgy vamps that the horns tend to ignore until the writing brings everyone together, often in a new time signature. Matos approximates vicious progressive rock in “The Forlorn Mill.” Carvalho typically works as an anchor, staying in the background. When the bassist takes a solo in the languid “Dracaena Draco,” he plays in an unrushed manner, with a narrative quality similar to Charlie Haden.