The illusion of a free-ranging approach to form and style is one of the most alluring aspects of Migrations a superb album by the composer and saxophonist Gaia Wilmer. Miss Wilmer digs deep into her Brasilian-ness for source material, finding it – for these eight songs – in echoes from the years spent absorbing capoeira music, maracatu, afoxé, repente, choro, frevo, sertão and musica caipira among a mélange of other ineffably beautiful rhythms best described in Hermeto Pascoal’s “Acuri”… all from listening to and absorbing and journeying – if spiritually – the musical topography of her home world.
But be warned not to expect a traditional, folkloric-sounding set of songs. This is not the music of conservatoire either. Rather it is a wonderfully dreamy journey into the mind of a very talented composer. This music by Gaia Wilmer is expressed primarily by reeds and woodwinds instruments played by Yulia Musayelyan, Gustavo D’Amico and Miss Wilmer with the vocalastics of Soon Yi Jeon floating over this instrumentation to create another, haunting layer over this glorious harmonic musical fabric. Songs such as “Criançada” and “Nostalgias” (just two examples, for instance) are almost overtly Romantic pieces; gently flowing tone poems that (I think, successfully) evoke the colours and flavours of Miss Wilmer’s homeland.
Migrations is a colourful, mysterious work, and a good showcase for the soprano, Soon Yi Jeon, who is able to communicate its uniquely rhapsodic fervour. The performances by Yulia Musayelyan (flutes), Gaia Wilmer (alto and baritone saxophone) and Gustavo D’Amico (soprano and tenor saxophones), together with a delicately beautiful and poetic performance by Vitor Gonçalves on piano and accordion, and warm, expansive harmonic and rhythmic contributions from Leandro Pellegrino (guitar), Mayo Pamplona (contrabass), Richie Barshay (drums) along with Raphael Lehnen (bombo legüero on “Migrations”)… Each offers a series of compelling performances, but together they are a winning combination on this fascinating disc.
Track list – 1: After Them; 2: Criançada; 3: Migrations; 4: Helen; 5: Chá; 6: No Talking; 7: Nostalgias; 8: Acuri
Personnel – Yulia Musayelyan: flutes, alto flute (3), bass flute (7), piccolo (8); Soon Yi Jeon: voice; Gaia Wilmer: alto saxophone, and baritone saxophone (5); Gustavo D’Amico: soprano saxophone (3, 5, 7), and tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 6, 8); Leandro Pellegrino: guitar; Vitor Gonçalves: piano, and accordion (3, 5); Mayo Pamplona: bass; Richie Barshay: drums; Raphael Lehnen: bombo legüero (3), Birds and Kids, Cecí and Lelê (2) recorded Marina Beraldo Bastos
Released – 2017
Label – Red Piano Records
Runtime – 51:14