Do I Still Look Like the Pumuckel?
CRISTO FONTECILLA QUARTET Do I still look like the Pumuckel? Jon Robles: sax Dick Them: double bass Enric Illa: drums Cristo Fontecilla: guitar Formed in Barcelona (Spain) by the end of the summer 2003, the band entered the studio after a few rehearsals, to record what would become their first release: 'do I still look like the Pumuckel'. All the tunes in the CD are original compositions by Cristo Fontecilla, except one - evitando -- composed by former double bass player Dick Them. The CD also features electric bass player, Joan Rectoret, on the tune 'narcosis', and drummer Sebas Fontecilla, on the tracks 'narcosis', 'almost on time', and 'Erasmus', as special guests. When asked about the line up, Cristo says ¨i like it small, to keep the interaction really happening. Actualy, the only rule in this band is: mind the melody and keep track of what the other guys are doing. Obviously, sometimes a bass line or a drum pattern is an important part of the piece, in wich case we try to keep it as it is¨. As he points out, ¨i think the fact that we all played in rock and funk bands at some point, gives us a clear sense of structure. No matter how far we go, when the bridge comes it all falls back in it's place¨. The music is quite eclectic, wich seems only normal considering Cristo's musical background. Listening to his compositions, his phrasing and the different sounds he uses, it is easy to guess he's been to many places on his musical journey. From aggressive, rock sounding pieces, to the most classical jazz esthetics, the playing on this recording is modern and sophisticated, but raw, and direct. Always faithful to the idea of spontaneous interpretation, the band doesn't seem to allow itself many boundaries. The first tune 'one last breath', is an up tempo swinging bass pattern with some rough, slightly distorted, guitar riffs a la Scofield. It is also a good show case for the band, with it's short and hard boppin' solos from Cristo, Jon and Enric. Next tune, 'solidere solitaire', has a flamenco feel with some Arabic flavor to it, and features Jon on soprano sax. The melody is based on the 'buleria' beat, and an Arabic scale whose structure is 1 2 b3 #4 5 b6 7. Basically an harmonic minor scale with a sharped 4th. The undefined genre of this tune allows the players much freedom. 'Atomic jazz' is mainly a tough 5 to 4 beat, with a melody that sounds as some kind of Mike Stern meets John Scofield meets the Brecker brothers. A twelve tones row on 7/8 takes us to a straight 4/4 bridge . Here the double bass and the heavy drum playing create a really unusual sound, along with the edgy distortion on the guitar. The rock ballad 'almost in time' is, as Cristo quotes, an 'etude' on the ninth interval, with some odd time signatures on the bridge section. Here, he uses a smooth, almost Methenyesque guitar sound. With a funk shuffle beat, and an acrobatic syncopated melody line, 'clumzee' is essentially a one chord groove with a four bars bridge, that shows the wildest side of the band. 'Erasmus' is a pretty classical jazz piece. The 'B' section is bluesy and swinging, almost ¨big bandish¨, while the solo section is simply a minor blues, where both soloists (Jon and Cristo) find their ways 'in', 'out' and 'around' very elegantly. The names of Coltrane and J. Hall come to mind... Bass player Dick's tune 'evitando', has a very classical structure. Alternating funk and swing, between parts. It is perhaps the 'safest' and most scholastic tune on the CD. The most fusion like tune 'narcosis', sounds like a cross between an early Jeff Beck, and Scott Henderson. A very 'liquid'distortion on the guitar, Rectoret's chordal bass playing, and the unusual harmonic sequence (a la Shorter or Holsworth), makes it quite different from the others. The CD ends with the jazz ballad 'the city of my dreams,' that sounds almost like a standar from the old days. The interaction is at it's best, and both soloists (Jon and Cristo) seem to know exactly what's gonna happen beforehand . The smooth, fat guitar tone, and the warm sax sound make of this one a very elegant piece.