It was Gil Evans who showed the world what exciting things a “nonet” could do when he and a certain Miles Davis charted a musical course called The Birth of Cool and while Lucas Pino’s No Net Nonet may have been similarly inspired, the young saxophonist and bass clarinetist brings a magic to the sound of a mid-sized ensemble that is all his own. That’s a Computer – the title at least, we’re told – is a reaction to a pejorative comment once uttered askance by a lecturer in music school. Mr Pino’s retort is powerful indeed; one that is likely to echo amid the hallowed portals of that institution and beyond as long as there is music being played.
The music is not only beautifully written and exquisitely performed by members of the No Nonet ensemble who parley with the familiarity of old friends, yet their playing always retains that sense of gracious etiquette associated with the noble academies for which the expensive retort is intended. And yet nothing is forced, exaggerated of overly mannered; tempos, ensemble and balance – all seem effortlessly and intuitively right. Their brass and woodwind sound is lucid, while bass adds warmth and continuo, piano and guitar set up the diaphanous harmonic fabric of the music just as the drums daubs the entire musical canvas with brilliant colour. Camila Meza’s vocal forays in “Frustrations” and “Suenos de Gatos” are sincere and poised, fitting tributes to the chaste and faultless character of composers and their respective musical works.
Lucas Pino leads the soloists with intimate and bold (depending on what the music calls for) forays that pries open the melodies leading excursions into uncharted territory until it’s time to return to the melodic home-base but never without first jumping off a proverbial cliff giving wing to the improvised harmonies and changes. Mostly there is a kind of muted serenity – at least until “Suenos de Gatos”. The arrangements seem carved out of melodies with obsessive perfection turning these works into gleaming gems that come alive at the hands of these musicians. Each soloist reveals a little of himself before closing ranks with his fellow-artists within the ensemble and no one is ever flashy unlike some of the more flamboyant young contemporaries of this generation.
And each solo is delivered powerfully so that the music overall can be lovingly sculpted. There’s subtle humour too, especially in the brisk finale, with its teasingly ‘incomplete’ theme. Overall Lucas Pino’s No Net Nonet delivers music that leaps off the page on which it has been written with passion, grace and a quiet, cleansing fire.
Track list – 1: Antiquity; 2: Horse of a Different Color; 3: Film at 11; 4: Look into My Eyes; 5: Frustrations; 6: Sueno de Gatos; 7: Baseball Simulator 1000
Personnel – Lucas Pino: leader, composer, arranger, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Mat Jodrell: trumpet; Alex LoRe: alto saxophone; Andrew Gutauskas: baritone saxophone; Nick Finzer: trombone; Rafal Sarnecki: guitar; Glenn Zaleski: piano; Desmond White: bass; Jimmy Macbride: drums; Camila Meza: voice (5, 6)
Released – 2018
Label – Outside In Music (OIM1819)
Runtime – 45:06