It has been twenty years since the release of Carlos Bica’s “Azul”, the Portuguese double bass player’s debut recording with German guitarist Frank Möbus and the American drummer Jim Black. Their brand new album “More Than This” accurately describes their status quo. This new release reflects the same music that their audiences have learned to love since the very beginning and delivers beyond those expectations. The music conjures up old memories while exploring new musical territories. This mature group of musicians has produced an album that opens new doors, looking to discover what’s on the other side.
Bica’s lyricist (or “romantic,” as he himself describes without hesitation) approach to contemporary jazz, combined with elements deriving directly from rock (“A Lã e a Neve”) and from the folk traditon (“Silver Dagger”) offers the listener new sounds and textures to revel in. One can say that this new album sounds almost as if it was the very first time the trio composed and recorded together, but it is rife with the veteran wisdom one earns when acquiring the right to state something, instead of merely “proposing” it. The variety of the themes displayed in “More Than This” sway from direct and good humored (check “Skeleton Dance”) to complex and deep, as on “XY Ungelöst” – in both cases being faithful to Azul’s identity. So, it comes down to this: on their sixth album, the trio has managed to record their best work ever. And yes – it’s a gem.
All compositions by Carlos Bica except
“A Lã e a Neve“ by Carlos Bica and João Paulo Esteves da Silva
“Whale Rider“ by Carlos Bica and Carsten Daerr
“Patchwork“ by Carlos Bica, Frank Möbus, Filipe Bica
“Na Rama do Alecrim“ (Cante Alentejano, tradicional portuguese music from Alentejo, arrangement by C.B.)
“Silver Dagger“ (american folk song)
“Skeleton Dance“ by Andi Haberl
Recorded at Fattoria Musica Studios, Osnabrück, by Hrólfur Vagnsson, 24-26 April 2016 | Mixed at Vagnsson Studios, Hamburg, by Hrólfur Vagnsson, August 2016 | Mastered at Pauler Acoustics, Northeim, by Hans-Jörg Maucksch, September 2016
Produced by Carlos Bica | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos