José Lencastre Nau Quartet – Eudaimonia

eudaimoniaThis second LP from José Lencastre Nau Quartet confirms a conclusion a lot of us came to after last year’s debut Fragments of Always. The Portuguese ensemble is for real.

Featuring José Lencastre on alto saxophone, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, Hernâni Faustino on bass and João Lencastre on drums, the four-piece deliver one riveting listen after another.

Their approach to improvisational jazz is refreshingly nuanced. Too often, players in the genre know two speeds: hectic and alarmingly hectic. Nau Quartet members apply their imagination and musicianship to a range of tempos. Sometimes within an individual piece.

So even when the listening is easy, as is very much the case on the album’s opener “Eu,” there is still plenty of creative interplay. The more attention you give these six new tracks, the better you’ll appreciate them.

That first song title may strike you as a bit cryptic. It’s followed by tracks called “Da,” “I” and so on, spelling out the album’s title Eudaimonia. It’s a Greek word sometimes translated as happiness or welfare; other times as prosperity.

A suitable title given the work’s positivity. Their approach to the material expresses not just a degree of expertise (which is plainly there). It communicates a sense of almost limitless possibility, at least in the context of jazz. Lencastre and Co. have the potential to produce important, lasting work.

Meantime, they’ve give us another 45 minutes of much-needed inspiration.

Kevin Press

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