Sei Miguel who plays pocket trumpet, is one of the most interesting improvising musicians on the scene today. He and his wife Fala Mariam who plays alto trombone, and their close associates Cesar Burago on percussion and Rafael Toral on electronics Pedro Lourenco on bass make beautiful music in a near perfect conversational environment. Somehow Miguel has found that space where melody, rhythm, and a delicate balance of sound and silence bridges that gap between what is high art music and what is pure folk music.
Miguel who is Brazilian, lives in Lisbon Portugal. He and Fala Mariam are two of the deepest artists I have ever known. They are committed to making music and making art. Fala Mariam besides being one of the most original voices to play trombone, is a fantastic painter as well. They operate in a kind of familial way with their ensemble and that closeness is obvious in all of their playing. They play with a vocal quality that is beyond anything called microtonal, with them it's just more personal than that.
The title of his new CD on Clean Feed Esfíngico – Suite for a Jazz Combo might seem funny to people who think that a term like Jazz Combo is old or corny. But Miguel is very much committed to the idea that Jazz is still viable and indeed necessary as a platform for his music. Listening to him and performing with him—as I have done on two occasions, makes it easy to understand why that is. Miguel and his tight crew are speaking through their instruments, telling stories to each other and to listeners and always reaching for that rarefied space where music functions on so many levels that it defies description yet still reminds us of our humanity.
To me, any good original music that declares itself to be jazz, actually needs to ignore the tired old jazz dogma that says that good, original music has no place in jazz. Miguel and company play by those terms. They admire depth of intent, pure sound, close interaction and the sense of adventure that makes the great musicians associated with jazz truly beyond any category. Once again, like so many times before, new jazz has emerged in an unexpected place. This time Lisbon is where it's at.