Giliard Lopes release ‘Caminhos’


Giliard Lopes’ solo debut Caminhos (translated from Portuguese into English as Paths) is an inventive and durable rebuke to anyone foolish enough to believe jazz doesn’t retain continued vitality in our modern age and isn’t an infinitely malleable form. Lopes’ six song debut as a band leader mixes the Brazilian native’s core South American influences with colorful and intelligent jazz arrangements including double bass, guitar, piano, and varied use of brass. The first track “Baião Frígio” has a busy, but never cluttered, percussion track giving it a restless and searching quality. It has an energetic and positive mood without ever sounding overwrought, a sign of the restrained artistry Lopes brings to each of his original compositions. This level of discipline as a writer distinguishes him from myriad other composers who, instead, fall back on formula in lieu of genuine exploration.

I think the album’s second song, “Gleisdreieck”, has a longer running time than the opener – when you “step back” from this album, following its conclusion, you can “see” the obvious sense of construction fueling its design. The album’s running order is never arbitrary; instead, there’s a steady modulation, a rising and falling effect, orchestrating the album’s progression. The relaxed vibe of the second composition de-emphasizes the more overt Latin percussion of the first track, never abandoning it entirely, while stringed instruments play a greater role in fleshing out Lopes’ intentions.

Lopes takes another notable turn with the album’s title track. It starts off as near torch song jazz, minus any negative connotations such a term may conjure for listeners, particularly longtime jazz devotees. It begins with just piano and a sensual, late night female vocal duetting during the composition’s first minute before expanding its sound. The drumming is particularly exceptional throughout the album, but “Caminhos” stands apart – note the precise, yet rhythmic, hi hat touches during the song. “Das Schloss” is, arguably, the album’s most accessible performance for casual listeners and rolls along with a warm bass line at its heart. The drumming gives it added momentum. I especially enjoy how the presence of horns in the song only grows over time.

“Pedra Furada” is another example of Lopes blending his native influences with melodic jazz motifs. The light percussive shake in the rhythm section has a low watt charge for me and the song has a cinematic flavor despite its traditional music inclinations. The last song “Chimango”, however, embraces intimacy – perhaps a neglected aspect of the album as a whole. “Chimango” reaches out to its audience, yet in the very personal and low-key fashion. I am taken with the relaxed confidence of the song’s horn section and, especially, the outstanding tempo changes near the song’s end.

Other reviewers may say this isn’t an album for everyone. It definitely takes avenues “popular” music rarely, if ever, travel, but the loose “live” sound of the son wealth of melody filling each of these six songs invites anyone to enjoy the album’s riches. Caminhos is a remarkable debut and Lopes sets himself up as much more than a top shelf bandleader – instead, he’s an equally powerful composer.


Anne Hollister posted by Gwen Waggoner