Brazilian keyboard phenom Marcos Resende and his band Index only ever released one album, 1978’s Festa para um Novo Rei. But that was actually their second album. Their first LP, recorded in 1976, never came out. The story goes that Resende’s hopes for a deal with CTI fell apart and the tapes sat on the shelf—until 2018, when he met the founder of Far Out Recordings. Now that self-titled debut is finally available, but too late for Resende to see it. Sadly, he died of cancer last November at age 73.
Why this recording stayed in storage for 45 years is perplexing. Was it not distinct enough from the likes of Red Clay and Light as a Feather? Had the moment passed for this style of fusion so steeped in its time? Whatever the reason, these six songs sound like the ’70s. Like Freddie Hubbard and Chick Corea, Resende finds the sweet spot between accessible and adventurous. His quartet features bassist Rubão Sabino, drummer Claudio Caribé, and saxophonist/flutist Oberdan Magalhães, but Resende is the star, with overdubs allowing him to play electric piano and synthesizers at the same time.
Though these tunes are glued together with a certain ethos and aesthetic, each is distinct, and the longer ones, especially “Martina,” are more like suites, with shapeshifting structures not that different from prog rock. “Praça da Alegria” sounds like a TV theme you can’t quite recognize, and “Behind the Moon” could be an analog ancestor of Daft Punk’s “Contact.” Resende goes all out on “Nergal,” bringing in a battery of horn players, guitarists, and percussionists to fatten the sound. But always, his own sublime playing is center stage. Some of it sounds dated—a few synth patches are too cheesy for 2021 ears—but that’s a minor ding for an album that should have been released during the Ford administration.