A Remarkable Debut
If anyone needs more proof that jazz in Brazil is alive and kicking: here’s the José Luiz Martins Trio. Recorded in 2014 but released (after a successful crowdfunding) in 2016, the trio from São Paulo delivers a more than interesting piece of work. Its leader, José Luiz Martins, shows an incredible flexibility on the piano. He composed all ten pieces on the album which, of course, gave him the freedom to show that flexibility.
At age 7, young José Luiz already gained an interest in (classical) music. He joined his mom to pick up his older brothers at the ULM (Universidade Livre de Música) and was fascinated by the music he heard. Growing up he listened, like anyone else, to pop and rock music. Meanwhile, he studied composition and piano and got infected by jazz. Convinced by the importance of studying and helped by a clear talent to play the piano, José Luiz turned out to be a gifted pianist. He recorded his first music in 2011, a promotional EP with six pieces (Ponto de Vista). José Luiz appeared on festivals all over Brazil and even in Uruguay. Three years later, still in his twenties, he recorded this album, Amanhã. It’s promising how a young pianist comes up with such a wonderful album. On Amanhã he shows his skills in an impressive way.
The album opens and closes with the ceremonious title track, “Amanhã.” For José Luiz Martins, the unknown and uncertain tomorrow (amanhã) creates the possibility of transforming every day. In between this opening and closing track, the pianist shows his talent in a variety of music, symbolically unraveling the mixed emotions of every day, every tomorrow, such as in beautiful ballads, like “Em Todas as Horas” (which is dedicated to his mother) to more up-tempo pieces like “Por Enquanto.” This composition features the talent of all three musicians with Rafael Abdalla on bass and Edu Nali on drums — three great instrumentalists.
And how much fun it is to hear all of a sudden a warm hearted dedication to the late Thelonious Monk (1917-1982)! On “Sphere,” José Luiz plays as angular as the master, very recognizable. On “Point of No Return” we hear a guest appearance of guitarist Djalma Lima.
With Amanhã, pianist José Luiz Martins enters the world of recording with an interesting and surprising album that fascinates from the first till the last note. It shows there’s still hope for jazz in the future. He’s a gifted composer as well as a talented performer. A name to follow: José Luiz Martins! You can check out some videos of the trio on their YouTube page.
José Luiz Martins Trio
Tracks (all compositions by José Luiz Martins):
- Por Enquanto (intro)
- Por Enquanto
- Em Todas as Horas
- Point of No Return