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Júlio Resende: Fado Jazz (ACT)

A review of the Portuguese pianist's debut on ACT

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Júlio Resende: Fado Jazz
The cover of Fado Jazz by Júlio Resende

While not the first to mingle jazz streams with fado—the Portuguese tradition of passion, loss, and suffering in song—pianist Júlio Resende stamps a personal, powerful imprint across the process. Here, the opener “Vira Mais Cinco” percolates under a 5/4 beat, Resende churning underneath the winsome acoustic guitar of Bruno Chaveiro. Alexandre Frazão’s drums tink and chock with unpredictable accents, as they’ll do throughout.

Traditional tune “Lira” begins in keyboard introspection, a prelude to full-combo richness; Chaveiro sticks mostly to background accents before his lilting turn in the spotlight enhances Resende’s careful enunciation on each of his own notes. Roughly halfway through, bassist André Rosinha emerges from the background with statements that are simultaneously stately and lyrical. I wish we’d heard more of him foregrounded. Elsewhere, the set returns to uneven beats with “Fado Das 7 Cotovias” (another traditional tune adapted) and its 7/4 churning. Guest vocalist Lina joins in for the finale, “Profecia,” a tune with Resende’s lyrics (in Portuguese) and more than a dash of “Ave Maria” in the melody line.

“I really don’t know if what I do is fado or jazz,” Resende states. “Maybe it is both. I don’t want to commit myself, because if you commit yourself, you stop developing. I prefer to move freely, like the sounds themselves.” And freedom proves to be a multifaceted formulation. With its strong (though not rigid) sense of order, its insistence on a niche for each player, this music hardly suggests free jazz. But it manifests a carefully bred hybrid, the harvest of a green-thumbed tiller patient at his hard work in the greenhouse. It harnesses two powerful notions of beauty and sends them together from the stable, pacing ineluctably across the firmament.

Learn more about Fado Jazz on Amazon & Apple Music!