My relationship with jazz is complicated. I appreciate the musicianship and much of the aesthetic, but my ears need more structure than most jazz can afford me. That’s why I usually take my jazz blended with other genres, so that the influences and ideas that I most enjoy get tempered by outside musical progressions and structures. Enter Brazilian Pequeno Céu (“Small Sky”) and their Praia Vermelha (“Red Beach”), released just last month. This beauty of an album blends jazz, 70’s psychedelic rock, and math rock into an incredibly pleasing melange, taking the best from each genre and putting it into one cohesive whole. It’s an album which knows how to be smooth, startlingly beautiful, and intensely grooving while never losing its own thread. Let’s meet below for a listen!

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The wonderfully named “Tóquio / Berlim” has everything I love about this release. Its middle passages are dominated by deep wind instruments and accompanying drums, while water sounds play in the background of the beautiful composition. These were ushered in by groovy, math rock beginnings, as the track spun into higher gear after the intro. Somewhere along the way you also get a brief taste of post rock, as the backing guitars to the wood instruments dabble in delay-ridden passages and tones. The faster paced, math rock segments also bear the unmistakable signature of the highly prolific psychedelic rock scene, which blossomed in Latin America in the 70’s and 80’s.

The overall result (especially with those water sounds) is a track which grabs at you without forgoing subtlety and caresses you without forgoing immediacy of delivery. This is very much the case for the rest of the album as well. The track are well placed to explore each part of this sound and meander along the different influences first presented here, at the onset of the album (including the post rock, check out “Urtiga” for more of that). This makes Praia Vermelha a very rewarding experience for repeat listeners; there are many aural nooks and crannies to explore, many ideas which are expressed once and are then gone in the flow of the album. Careful attention will reveal them and the musical wonders that Pequeno Céu unfold before our ears.

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