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Beledo — Seriously Deep
(Moonjune MJR118, 2021, CD / 2LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2022-05-25

Seriously Deep Cover art

With Seriously Deep, Beledo presents what is essentially an augmented trio album, playing guitar with Tony Levin on bass and Kenny Grohowski on drums. He adds some keyboards on his own and features guests on one track each: Kearoma Rantao, Boris Savoldelli, and Jorge Camiruaga. The album opens with the title track, which was written by Eberhard Weber, and it’s a 14-minute arrangement prominently featuring Beledo’s piano playing. While he’s technically quite proficient on the instrument, I find the piece somewhat tame and a bit tedious at that length. “Mama D” is up next and features Rantao singing, backed by an energetic rhythm section that saves the song — I’m still on the fence about her vocals. During the instrumental sections, Levin and Grohowski are outstanding, and Beledo’s Holdsworth-inspired playing is excellent. With “Coasting Zone,” we finally get a track I can wholeheartedly recommend — it features just the core trio, and they shine on a tune that plays to their strengths. “Maggie’s Sunrise” brings the piano back into the mix, along with Camiruaga’s vibes, and again I’m left unmoved. It’s mellow and pretty enough, but presents nothing to stand out — dextrous guitar isn’t enough to rise above the feeling of a Pat Metheny tune that got cut from an album. Savoldelli joins the group on “A Temple in the Valley,” scatting a melody in unison with the guitar, and even adding in multiple parts at times; he also contributes his unique style of vocal improvisation for the first solo. The guitar solo on this track is quite good as well, backed by some very loose playing from the others. The other two tracks on the album are improvisations (or rather “spontaneous compositions”) credited to the trio, and they provide some of the album’s highlights. Levin in particular gets a chance to shine here, and Beledo kicks in some effects that are a bit more outside than what he uses elsewhere. To my ears, Seriously Deep is a seriously mixed bag, with a few great tracks and a few I’d just as soon skip.

Filed under: New releases, 2021 releases

Related artist(s): Tony Levin, Boris Savoldelli, José Pedro Beledo, Kenny Grohowski

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