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Carlos Bica & Azul: Things About

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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.

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