Sei Miguel-(Five) Stories Untold_First Impressions

Sei Miguel is a Portuguese trumpet player with an ear for the unpredictable.  On his new record, he places himself in many different ensemble spaces to improvise in different ways.  The album may rely a bit too heavily on silence and ambiance.  Silence can be an important musical technique in jazz because phrasing can sometimes be made more dramatic by the space left in between, but Miguel seems to go overboard a bit leaving some parts of the album feeling unnecessary.  Also, his extended technique range is a bit too weak to sustain 17 minute long, ambient pieces, leaving his trumpet playing sounding more or less the same throughout.

“Asterion” serves as a spacey, acoustic opener.  Building from Miguel’s whispery trumpet tones, he slowly builds into snappy melodic movements when accompanied by grounding long tones from trombone player Fala Mariam.  On “Abrigo Dos Pássaros” (meaning Shelter of Birds), guitarist Moz Carrapa is added to the mix.  His eerie chordal noodling complementing the huge swaths of silence in Miguel’s phrasing.  This track can be a bit underwhelming, it’s 17 minute length gives a lot of time to develop but some of the time spent building is unnecessary especially considering the preceding track, which also feels a bit like a build-up for more substantial musical moments.

On “Os Céus,” the addition of drums does little to quell the obsession with ambiance and silence.  Luìs Desirat’s light percussive playing eventually sustains a substantial meter but the effort feels uninspired.  The record continues on it’s lull of boring, stagnant phrasing never showcasing a strong level of dynamics.

Although ambient music can be a very interesting concept, Sei Miguel does not do enough to convince me hear.  His trumpet phrasing is all to stagnant and the space on the record is excessive, not keeping me entertained from beginning to end.  I probably will not return to it for further listens.

DB

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