The trio Gilfema takes its name from initials of its members, West African guitarist, Lionel GILles Loueke, Hungarian drummer, FErenc Nemeth and Swedish Italian bassist MAssimo Biolcati. Loueke is the best known of the three as a regular member of Herbie Hancock’s touring band and highly rated as a rising star guitarist in DownBeat’s critic’s poll. The three have been friends and musical collaborators since meeting at Berklee College of Music and have developed an intuitive interactivity that results from years of playing together. They had a prior album which received considerable acclaim. The trio’s new album is Gilfema + 2 (ObliqSound) reflecting the addition of Anat Cohen on clarinet and John Ellis on bass clarinet and ocarina.
The resulting recording is a marvelous mix of world music grooves and jazz with their use of West African grooves along with their New World counterparts as the opening Twins, by Loueke whose rhythms and vocal evoke Brazil as well as West African with the reed voices of Cohen and Ellis complementing and adding further seasoning here. Nemeth’s Question of Perspective, suggests some of Chick Corea’s compositions with Ellis’ smoky bass clarinet and Loueke’s scatting in unison with his deft single note runs. Loueke’s Your World, sports a mesmerizing African groove, with clarinets adding a flavor that suggests some of Abdullah Ibrahim’s recordings, with the deft interplay between Cohen’s clarinet and Loueke’s guitar being simply one of the small delights here.
The remaining selections are equally melodic as well as rhythmically lively as the quintet conjures up a different set of moods and rhythms with marvelous interplay throughout and interesting instrumental textures created by the clarinet and bass clarinet such as on Biocati’s Salomé. Gilfema + 2 is playful in spirit but deep in musical substance. Highly recommended.
This review originally appeared in the September 2009, Jazz and Blues Report (Issue 320). I do not recall if I was sent my review copy from the publication or a record company or its publicist.