Friday, December 22, 2006

Bota Fogo - 20/12/2006@GC De Maelbeek, Brussels

Javier Breton - el b
Toine Thys - ts, ss
Matthieu Van - kb
Mehdi Benadji - d

Bota Fogo tapped into a broadly similar Fusion vein as the Piotr Paluch Quartet, but upped the volume, electricity and groove and leader Javier Breton reportedly uses Latin American songs as inspiration. Mehdhi Benadji provided relentless polyrhythms that danced around Breton's fast, forceful vamps. The drummer's hi-hat, which was, I guess, supposed to hold down the basic tempo, often hovered close enough to the edge of the beat to give the rhythm an unsettled feel. When he constantly changed his phrasing of one tune's 6/8, the effect was of wanting to dance, but having difficulty knowing when to put a foot down (a couple of girls dancing next to me illustrated the problem). Together, they laid the foundation for pulsing riffs and melodic bridges.

Even when Toine Thys and Matthieu Van slowed things down, the rhythm section never really let up, which on the one hand created interesting is-this-fast-or-slow tension, but on the other hand flattened out the dynamic variations between pieces.

On one piece that uncharacteristically included stretches of frenetic swing, Matthieu provided a very cool, weird and warped synth-horn section that seemed both sarcastic and loving. When the rest of the band left the pianist to delve into lush, romantic chords on his own, it also initially seemed sarcastic, until Toine joined in on tenor and confirmed that, yes, they were playing standard jazz harmony, sincerely. Unsurprisingly, the jazz ballad feel was abruptly dropped in favour of a fast, thumping beat and a happy riff.