Lisbon Improvisation Players
Rodrigo Amado, the man who leads the band with a changing lineup - which he named Lisbon Improvisation Players, or LIP if you’re in a hurry - likes double meanings. First of all, the one created with the letters L, I and P, alluding to the presence of a saxophone and giving sensual indications of just how this music is played: lips to perform and lips to seduce you. Then, there's the ambiguity of a jazz approach, something between hard bop and free, but totally improvised, with no structures, themes, or anything else previously prepared. Finally, the “think globally, act locally” duplicity implied by a project that has a particular city in its name but then includes musicians from other geographical origins. That was the case with Steve Adams and Ken Filiano in “Motion” - one Californian, the other a New Yorker - and now the same happens with Dennis González, a Texan of Mexican descent.
Speaking of double meanings, one usually expects the special guest to be part of the "front line", together with the bandleader. But in “Spiritualized”, trumpeter González decided to position himself behind Amado, not for mere courtesy but to comment on what he does and also, to be in the middle between the soloist and the rhythm section (formed by bassist Pedro Gonçalves and drummer Bruno Pedroso) in order to react to what’s happening globally. A sort of hierarchy of roles is established to focus our attention on the way everybody functions in the tricky machinery of this ensemble – in González's case, as an outsider who goes in to change parameters and directions, even when he seems to keep a low profile. But there’s more: if, by its nature this is fire music, you’ll be surprised with the way Rodrigo Amado deals with spaces and intervals, assuming that, to “let it go”, he doesn’t necessarily have to overblow his horn, and you’ll be amazed by the gentleness of some of the trumpet lines, as well as with the chamber dimension lent to the proceedings by Ulrich Mitzlaff, a German experimental cello player who's lived in Lisbon for 11 years.
All this goes to show that this isn’t just another jazz record, but something to discover little by little and to assimilate as the special art object it is, musically rich and open to our own subjectivity as active listeners; and with a spiritual aura that give us a clear perception of the real influence Dennis González had on these sessions - the same aura we find in his own records and in his paintings - which are all about “rising spirits” and “awareness”, the exact titles of two tracks.