Far Out re-discover an amazing album of Brazilian covers, performed by Argentinian musicians, and recorded in Norway…. La Rana, originally released in 1980 on the short-lived Plateselskapet Mai label, finds a quartet of maestros, led by guitarist, Agustin Pereyra Lucena, reworking classics by legends, the likes of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ivan Lins, and Baden Powell, in and around their own compositions. Collecting a total of 8 organic outings, where the only thing plugged-in is Guillermo Reuter`s electric piano – which adds slick solos to the opening Horas Da Manha (3AM), and the title track. The former, a beautiful, gentle bossa, a sweet celebration, rather than a raucous Celebration Suite. The latter, a terrific take on Joao Donato`s sophisticated dance-floor filler, A Ra, where the excitable players shout and shriek, mimicking a cuica`s squeak.
Many of the pieces are instrumentals, serving as showcases for Agustin`s stunning strumming and picking. Demonstrations of impossible dexterity, that carries both rhythm and melody simultaneously. Jazz, of course, in his clipped chords. On all, bar the romantic melancholy of Tema Medieval, he’s accompanied by Ruben Izaurralde`s fine flute, stirring group swells of “spiritual” percussion, and Finn Sletten`s drumming – which switches between syncopated “shimmer” and galloping groove. The closing Encuentro De Sombras (Encounter of Shadows) I guess is a little “avant”, appropriately “far out”. Arranged by Reuter, who doubles on keys and contrabass, it`s an extended near 15 minute epic that begins all enchanted – a wonderful weave of hummed harmonies and nocturnal rainforest noise – Amazonian ambience – and rises to a slow, sensual samba. The acoustic ensemble packing peaceful, positive vibes. At around the 8, 9 minute mark, though, a carnival whistle blows, signaling a significant change of gear. By the time that they’re 11, 12 minutes in, things really, really start to swing.
The Agustin Pereyra Lucena Quartet`s La Rana is reissued today, October 15th, by Far Out Recordings.