For Brazilian-born composer, bassist, and bandleader Gili Lopes, music is a portal to the world. On Algures, Lopes uses that portal to synthesize his lifetime of experiences into an eight-track travelogue for a modern jazz ensemble. “This album is a sonic portrait of my travels around the world and of the places I’ve visited and lived,” he explains. The result is a firsthand musical telling of his personal journey.
Guiding the way with Lopes is a cohort of masters who bridge Brazilian music and the contemporary jazz scene in New York, where the bassist now calls home. Guitarist Vinicius Gomes and pianist Helio Alves are two of Lopes’ longtime collaborators, both Brazilian players who Lopes says “get the music right away.” On Algures, they’re joined by drummer Ari Hoenig, whose fluid grooves propel Lopes’ compositions, and saxophonist John Ellis, who glides over the grooves with bouncy, lyrical melodic lines. Together, the two “provide that strong, rhythmic New York sound.”
Tracks such as the driving album-opener “Antalya”—which conjures the Turkish city of the same name with its thrilling rhythmic interplay and soaring solos from Gomes, Ellis, and Alves—and “Famara”— on which Lopes connects Berber culture and Afro-Brazilian samba with a supple, springy groove and angular counterpoint while invoking a Canary Island beach—have specific ties to places Lopes has visited.
Elsewhere, the bassist looks deeply at his native country from a unique personal lens. Lopes recalls one of his earliest musical memories, when he would hear brief snippets of percussion band rehearsals coming through the windows of his childhood home. “The wind would bring in only the low frequencies,” he reminisces. “All you could hear was the low end. And it would be this mysterious thing, it would come in with the wind and disappear.”
Those mysterious sounds, he believes, drew him to the bass at an early age, as he tried to evoke the memory of those low frequencies. But the bass would also take him away from Brazil when, at the age of 18, he moved to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In the decades since, he’s lived in Europe and the U.S., performing in 35 countries along the way.
The song “De Longe”—which means “from far away”—uses a rich dramatic arc driven by bass and piano unison lines to create a “reflection of Brazil and the places I was living in Europe,” and serves as a thesis for Algures. Lopes’ personal arrangements of Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” in the first half of the record, and Milton Nascimento’s “Outubro” on the latter, further elaborate upon the combination of Brazilian groove and knotty contemporary New York-jazz flavors while paying tribute to a pair of his greatest influences, who he calls “some of the most enlightened musical minds of our times.”
On four tracks—“Antalya,” “The Fortress,” “Famara,” and “Barrinha”—percussionist Rogerio Boccato contributes what Lopes calls “a tribal element from Brazil” that melds with the sensitivity and nuance of each player in this elite ensemble to make an “an essential statement” on the composer’s musical experience and reinforces the album’s concept with exquisite finesse. Masterfully recorded by Grammy-winning engineer Marc Urselli at EastSide Sound Recording, you’ll hear every twist and turn along the way.
Gili Lopes Bio:
Gili Lopes is a bassist and composer from Brazil based in New York City.
Born in 1983 in Porto Alegre, Gili was introduced to music through the sounds of Brazilian folklore. At the age of 14 he started learning the bass as a self taught musician and soon after started playing with local bands around his state. In his early 20’s he moved to London where he started studying the upright bass. He attended the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he obtained a bachelor degree in jazz studies and worked extensively as a freelance musician in the United Kingdom for a decade after that.
In 2013 he was invited to expand his studies in music at the Jazz Institute in Berlin where he obtained a Masters degree in composition and arrangement by the University of Fine Arts of Berlin (UDK)
Gili Lopes has since performed in more than 35 countries around the world including Qatar,
Canada, Bulgaria, Chile, Portugal, Jordan, South Korea and Turkey in venues such as Ronnie
Scotts, Queen Elizabeth Hall, SummerStage in Central Park, Nice Jazz Festival, London Jazz
Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Seoul Jazz Festival, Frederic Chopin Philharmonic, Jazz is Dead in Los Angeles among many others. In his recent discography, there is the Album entitled Yes! by Duduka Da Fonseca and also Samborium by Dom Salvador Trio which was nominated for the Brazilian Music Award as the best instrumental album of the year and won the Gold medal in the Latin Jazz category of the 2022 Global Music Awards.
Tracklist and composers:
- – Antalya (Gili Lopes)
- – De Longe (Gili Lopes)
- – Infant Eyes (Wayne Shorter)
- – Yalla (Gili Lopes)
- – The Fortress (Gili Lopes)
- – Famara (Gili Lopes)
- – Outubro (Milton Nascimento)
- – Barrinha (Gili Lopes)
Gili Lopes – Double bass
John Ellis – Saxophone
Ari Hoenig – Drums
Vinicius Gomes – Guitar
Helio Alves – Piano
Rogerio Boccato – Percussion (Faixas 1, 5, 6 e 8)