Don’t be fooled by the inconspicuous lineup: Gonçalo Almeida on double bass, Rodrigo Amado performing tenor saxophone and Marco Franco on drums. This is no dusty, old-school jazz record. The Attic moves at a feverish clip. Featuring three extraordinary players, recorded live, this is a state-of-the-art free jazz album.
Almeida, Amado and Franco are renowned inside and outside their home country of Portugal. These are accomplished artists with rock star resumes. (Amado was recently voted top tenor saxophonist in the El Intruso International Critics’ Poll.) Their ability to pull together such a formidable 52 minutes and change speaks for itself.
Track one opens with Almeida’s double bass, providing “Shadow” a momentary new classical vibe. Quickly though, Amado’s tenor sax makes clear where we’re headed. Aggressively modern – confrontational even – the piece will gnaw at you with every stroke of Almeida’s bow.
“Hole” comes next. This time it’s a coarsely plaintive sax line at the start. Franco’s drums join in, a single beat at a time to start. As the tune progresses, the gravity of Franco’s contribution to this project becomes clear. He is all over his kit, building a sharply kinetic foundation.
The album’s closing track is an all-out blast of controlled chaos. “Nail” is a well-chosen title for the piece; the three hammer away at it for a full five minutes. You’ll wish it went longer.
The Attic was recorded live to tape in Lisbon back in December 2015, by Luis Candeias.