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Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo Vice Versa: Viajando Com O Som (The Lost ’76 Vice-Versa Studio Session) (Far Out)

Review of vault release from artist once described by Miles Davis as "the most impressive musician in the world”

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Cover of Hermeto Pascoal album Com O Som
Cover of Hermeto Pascoal album Viajando Com O Som

Whether it’s true or apocryphal, Miles Davis’ alleged description of Hermeto Pascoal as “the most impressive musician in the world” (sometimes altered to “one of the most important”) has served the ultra-eccentric Brazilian multi-instrumentalist well. Davis used Pascoal on three tracks on 1971’s Live-Evil; that credit, plus the quote, has guaranteed that the visually striking artist, who’s long been a hero at home, would always have somewhat of a following in the international jazz community. And here we are, 47 years later, ready for more.

Pascoal is now 81, sports a mane of wild white hair and beard to match, and is still active. But Viajando Com O Som dates from just five years after his one-off with Miles. The backstory dictates that the music herein was cut in two days and the master tape subsequently lost. It’s now resurfaced and good thing that it has—it’s quite a find.

Unlike other Pascoal works, the instrumentation utilized on the 1976 session isn’t especially colorful (he’s fond of using toys, found objects, etc.). Here we simply have the leader sticking to conventional electric piano and flute, accompanied by a rhythm section, a few more flutes, some saxophones, a second piano, percussion and guitarist Toninho Horta, the only player other than Pascoal to enjoy a high-profile reputation worldwide.

While not dissimilar to much other mid-’70s jazz, Viajando Com O Som, with its preponderance of jingling bells, funky bottom, trilling flutes, psychedelic meanderings, free intrusions, squawking horns and maniacal chants, is unapologetically experimental throughout. “Casinha Pequenina,” especially, the 26-plus-minute finale, borrows liberally from the aforementioned Mr. Davis’ own polyrhythmic, Afro-centric work of the period, only to break down into joyful percussive chaos in its final minutes. You may ask yourself what that was that you just heard. Then you’ll want to hear it again.

Preview, buy or download songs from the album Viajando Com O Som by Hermeto Pascoal & Grupo Vice Versa on iTunes.

Originally Published