Mário Laginha, Julian Argüelles and Helge Andreas Norbakken ‘Setembro’ CD/DIG (Edition) 4/5

This has all the feel and intimacy of an ECM project and if one had to make the vaguest of parallels, then it might be with the late 1990s Anwar/Holland/Surman album which explored jazz and North African rhythms to thrilling effect. Here, however, the emphasis is instead on a lesser part of the Iberian peninsula, Portugal, with a native of that country, pianist Mário Laginha being the central figure with eight out of the the compositions penned by him, the other two by Argüelles. The music captures the seasonal mood of September and the reflective side of both that nation and people. In particular, this trio excels on the gentler side with lovely piano solo intros that lead into fine interplay, as on ‘Perto de Alguém’, which suits the plaintive tone of Argüelles’ soprano playing illustrated on ‘Yada Yada’, with ever inventive percussion from Norwegian Norbakken.

Disparate influences include the joyous hustle and bustle of life with a pared down version of the Weather Report-style by the trio on ‘Fisicamente’, or the jazz classicism of tenor saxophone and piano on ‘Lugar Bem Situado’, with the duo in conversational mode. The jazz tradition is further evoked on ‘O Primeiro Dia’, yet still manages to incorporate the occasional nod to more avant-garde avenues, while Bill Evans is paid homage to on the sly on the opener, ‘Mãos na Parede’, with piano and soprano saxophone in a loving conversation.

Deft percussion throughout by Norbakken makes the trio sound as one. Indeed, in places collectively they create a floating, dream-like quality to the music. A fine recording from a trio that are as cohesive and contented as they appear on the inner sleeve photos. October dates include Leeds College of Music on 13 October and the following evening, 14 October, at the Vortex Jazz Club in London.

Tim Stenhouse