José Lencastre NAU Quartet – Fragments of Always

lencastreJazz is not a timeless music. It has had its periods like any other; some definable by style, others by recording technology. The music’s progression is a big part of its appeal. While there is plenty to distinguish the small combos of the 1930s from modern day greats like Kamasi Washington and Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, jazz lovers can draw a pretty straight line between them.

José Lencastre’s NAU Quartet looks pretty sharp at the modern end of that line. Featuring Lencastre on alto saxophone, Rodrigo Pinheiro on piano, Hernâni Faustino on bass and João Lencastre on drums, their new disc Fragments of Always dropped Aug. 1 on FMR Records.

It is exceptional. Fifty-seven minutes of improvisational virtuosity. Lencastre’s performance will draw you in, but there’s so much more quality here. Pinheiro’s authoritative piano keeps pace and then some. And while it’s hard to imagine the two of them leaving any room for improvement, the rhythm section of Faustino and João Lencastre is spell-binding.

The album opens with “The Aphorism Suite,” a six-part epic with range to spare.

The other major piece here is the title track “Fragments of Always.” Like the rest of this fine album, it bears all the hallmarks of great improv jazz. It is energetic, surprising and at all times solidly united.

Kevin Press

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