Carlos Bica, Playing With Beethoven, Clean Feed ****

'Cause the dreams ain't broken down here now, they're walking with a limp – Tom Waits. We keep returning to this mind blowing quartet album where bassist Carlos Bica, saxist Daniel Erdmann, accordionist João Barrados and turntablist DJ Illvibe - …

Published: 31 Jul 2023. Updated: 8 months.

'Cause the dreams ain't broken down here now, they're walking with a limp – Tom Waits.

We keep returning to this mind blowing quartet album where bassist Carlos Bica, saxist Daniel Erdmann, accordionist João Barrados and turntablist DJ Illvibe - the son of titanic German improviser Alexander von Schlippenbach - bounce off one another like never-say-die cartoon characters in a duel against time and the edifice of a gigantic canon of Western music. Not meant to be a strict overview of Beethoven and yet in the space of a single CD they pack in everything whether a lift-off from the launch pad of the Leonore Overture, the second movement of the 3rd cello sonata or the Moonlight Sonata among a whole lot else.

A good deal more here on this Portugal derived recording than Bica music inspired by Beethoven jostles for your attention too. Illvibe adds a zany quality and accordionist Barrados isn't po-faced either as he pumps in a few jaunty diversions. But the seriousness comes over well too. Saxist Erdmann on 'Ein Tanz' is marvellously florid improvising over a droney doom laden forest of sound. Given the near ubiquity of most of Beethoven's work chances are you will be hearing shards of melody you didn't even know you knew and then stay with that familiarity to embrace the new twists and turns these improvisers feed in. Take our word for it there are plenty of scenic diversions and the album also includes originals by band members and the maverick blend works. Best bit, which may even steal the show, is the fed-in Tom Waits 'Small Change (Got Rained On With His Own .38)' spoken word element on 'Tiny Change' that Illvibe mucks around with for a sleazy love-in of a sound dressed in some essential Erdmannisms. Certainly among the most imaginative Euro jazz of 2023. Cue it up for your next listening binge.

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Published: 31 Jul 2023. Updated: 8 months.

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Check out the latest marlbank podcast - including some live sightings at Crazy Coqs and the Barbican (pictured) recently

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