Carlos Barretto


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You cannot pigeonhole it -- which is a good thing, mostly because you don't know what to expect next. Carlos Barretto writes and arranges with a measured ear, one that enjoys exploring the nuances and crevices just off the beaten path. The core of the group is the trio -- Barretto on acoustic bass, Mário Delgado on guitars, and José Salgueiro on drums -- but baritone saxophonist François Courneloup is an important, enervating addition on the tracks on which he appears. The group paints a diverse palette, with the guitar taking the lead when the bari sax is missing. There are a myriad of influences, from the free funk of "Eiró," with its groove-based bass punctuated by bursts of electric guitar, to the small sounds of the highly abstract "Sans Titre," to the jazz-drenched "Lokomotiv" and "Oráculo," on each of which the muscular Courneloup stakes his ground. "Lokomotiv" is particularly notable for the way the second half veers off in a blinding intertwining of sax and electric guitar, distorting, stretching, and tugging. The refreshing arrangements allow each track to occupy its own world, the common denominator being the creative impulses of Barretto filtered through the lens of his companions. At a time when so many small groups follow the path of least resistance by pursuing cookie-cutter formulas, Carlos Barretto forcefully pursues an individual vision that defies categorizing. Whatever you call it, it grooves with a powerful beat, and then just as easily disintegrates into its own world of dark dreams, hallucinatory fantasies, and dead-end roads. By the time it is over, the listener never knows what hit him.

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