17 June 2012

Trio A Gog & Magog makes six

Al Kerr came to town with his Trio Agogo and friends, so his trio had six performers. Apparently ABC radio has commented on this too, but let’s not be too prescriptive. Trio Agogo plays Brazilian music and it comprises Australian musicians with Brazilian experience and knowledge and with a history of visits to the soul of the music. We all love bossa nova, of course. This was broader although I could hear the bossa sensuality in the sax melody of one tune out of Rio de Janiero. That tune actually sounded to me like Euro/Latin melancholy: smooth, sexy, romantic, somewhat desperate. But there was also lots of dance party music out of NE Brazil that was described by Al as jazz fusion. It was close. I heard cycles and descending chromatic chords and modally descending chords, so the structures weren’t all so difficult, and the soprano solo on one all the world like fusion. The grooves were rich and the arrangements were busy. But the rhythms were essential: deeper, more African, than fusion’s rhythms. One of Al’s solos had me realising their malleability. On drum kit, his limbs were playing different and unconnected rhythms that floated over the groove and came together at the end of a phrase. Who knows how difficult that must be. It’s wildly free in a rhythmic sense and I can imagine dancing to it would be strangely liberating. This was richly danceable music in a loose-limbed African way. I also loved the sound of two nylon-strung guitars which, with drums/percussion, formed the Trio, as they played unison lines or harmonies or solos against chords. The melodies were joyous things, bouncy, busy and consonant. This is sensuality with intelligence but without intellectualisation. Ben told me afterwards that they’d been playing the top 100 of Brazilian music. Their promo had talked of samba, choro, bossa nova, forro and Brazilian jazz. Suffice to say I knew of a few of these, but there’s variation in these forms that eludes my knowledge but not my pleasure. This was wonderfully infectious music and strongly foot-tapping. Much enjoyed. And congrats to our locals, Phill and Anton, who did all this with just one practice under their belts.

Trio Agogo are Alastair Kerr (drum kit, pandeiro, percussion), Paul Carey (guitar), Adam May (7-string guitar, cavaquinho) and their friends were Ben Carr (saxes), Anton Wurzer (accordion) and Phill Jenkins (bass).

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