REVIEW: Echoes of Europe by Raul da Gama (Canada)

BUY CD – Echoes of Europe (ARC-2680)


  • The term: “…and just play” – music, of course – might not readily be associated with this disc by Dino Massa and his Kansas City Quintet but it ought to be as it is the spirit which has imbued the entire music on it. The words come at the end of a quote attributed to Charlie Parker which begins and ends thus: “Master your instrument, Master the music, and then forget all that bullshit and just play…” The words are so not only so admired by these musicians, it would seem, but appear to have been taken to heart in every nook and cranny of this music. The result: music that embodies old-fashioned swing in every tempo and time signature that it is played; no extraneous ornamentation, not a note, line or phrase out of place; everything in melody, harmony and rhythm pressed into the idiomatic cause of the music. No bullshit.
  • These are moments worth savouring, because discs documenting music as exquisite of form and function – in all its nudity – as this, on Echoes of Europe come along only very rarely.
  • “Refined” is an epithet that comes to mind and if that suggests a certain taciturn feel to the music, it is not entirely untrue. However, it is very much the music of adventure – the kind that comes from distant concentration and energy that derives from musicians feeling, rather than reading their way forward.
  • It is the association with instruments and players in fresh contexts; mashing up the permutations and altering the perspective between foreground (solo) and background (ensemble), and of the shifting spatial architecture of the music itself.
  • The two flutes written into “Tarantella” are one of the most alluring aspects of this crepuscular, brooding piece, placed strategically at the end of the recording. This wonderfully teasing and flirtatious melody is a perfect way to leave the air that rushes in to fill the void of silence at the music’s end with great expectation of what might come next from an association that includes Dino Massa and Christopher Burnett as well as any and all of the others on t his disc.

Raul da Gama

Based in Canada, Raul is a musician and an accomplished writer whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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