I first heard Portuguese guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro on Open Letter, his 2008 debut album with Chris Cheek on sax. All the numbers were composed and arranged by Pinheiro. He has a distinctive sound and I thought then that he had a lot going for him. He subsequently formed a trio with Italian bassist Massimo Cavalli and Dutch drummer Eric Ineke and they have been performing together for several years now. They recorded Is Seeing Believing with Dave Liebman and pianist Mário Laginha in 2017.
The trio’s set on Triplicity is a superbly collective effort. The title comes from Miles Davis’s “Boplicity”. Each member is highly original both in their individual improvisation and their collaborative interplay but no one seeks to overshadow another. Their album is an intriguing mix of novel and imaginative interpretations of hard bop classics, standards from the Great American Songbook, a Morricone film theme and a Carlos Jobim bossa nova.
The CD in its entirety holds the listener’s attention from start to finish and each track is a gem in itself. Highlights include a pacey Pinheiro original, “Blues Just Because” with its traces of Django Reinhardt; the subdued soulfulness of “Cinema Paradiso”; Ineke’s brushwork masterclasses in Fisher’s dysphoric “You’ve Changed” and Rainger’s “If I Should Lose You”; an unexpected infusion of Latin American dance rhythm in Benny Golson’s “Along Came Betty” and the inexorable tension building in “Retrato em Branco e Preto” generated by the ominous tick-tocking of Ineke’s rim sticks and Cavalli’s sonorous bass bowing.
The unusual finale – a deconstruction of Harline and Washington’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” is the best of all. Pinheiro’s harp-like playing reveals influences from Chet Atkins’s version of the song and his mesmeric finger picking of the high notes becomes transformed into something akin to the sound of high frequency, interstellar radio signals. Marvellous!
Blues Just Because; Cinema Paradiso; If I Should Lose You; Along Came Betty; You’ve Changed; Conception; Retrato em Branco e Preto; When You Wish Upon a Star (46.32)
Ricardo Pinheiro (g); Massimo Cavalli (b); Eric Ineke (d). Lisbon, November 2017.
Daybreak DBCHR 75227