CD cover Emiliano Sampio

Meretrio & Mega Mereneu Project

Players: Meretrio and Mega Merenau Big Band, 2 CD's recorded in Graz, Austria, February 2018, SWR113/19


Emiliano Sampaio: guitar, trombone, loop machine; Gustavo Boni: electric bass, acoustic bass; Louis André: drums, percussion.

The Wedding; Helsinki; Red Eyes; Answer; Open Cold; Birds; Interpretation; O Golpe; The Reverb.

Emiliano Sampaio, born in Brazil in 1984, studied guitar intensively. Almost too much in his own saying. He needed a break and picked up the trombone because of the low prize of the instrument. Nowadays he plays both the guitar and the trombone; a pretty rare combination. Plus, he likes to work with loop stations and writes compositions for his trio and for large ensembles. He is based in Graz, Austria.

The Meretrio, a guitar, bass, drum trio, is a long-term working unit. Normally a guitar trio is limited in its options. Thanks to the overdubs, the clever sound effects and loops, Meretrio sounds like a chamber orchestra. Meretrio creates a large spectrum of sounds, grooves, and beautiful open melodies.

Each of the nine pieces on this CD breaths a different atmosphere, evokes another surprising mood. Just to mention a few: the funny 'jack-jack-jack' trombone loop in the funky composition called 'Helsinki'; the icy sounds in the slow flowing 'Open Cold'; a trance-like ostinato in the multi-layered 'Interpretation' with strong solos on both guitar and trombone.

The harmonic rhythm in all pieces is slow and vamp-like. The advantage of the lack of rapid chord progressions it that more room is created for the various rhythmical layers and colorful melodies. The richness of the sound pallet is impressive. Each of the three players are able to create well constructed improvisations as well. Most of the solos are played by Emiliano on guitar and on trombone.

The danger with sound effects and overdubs is that the trick becomes stronger than the result. With this CD of Meretrio the effects are clearly present on all tracks. Fortunately the electronics, the sound effects and the overdubs are never intrusive nor overly constructed. Meretrio delivers a well-balanced, intelligent crafted music, full of strong personal melodies, sounds and grooves.

Mega Mereneu Project

Emiliano Sampaio: composer, conductor, guitar; Max Ranzinger: bass; Luis André: drums; Michael Lagger: keyboards; Ursula Reicher, Elina Viluma, Thomas Spitzer, David Friedrich: vocals, poetry slam; Andreas Bohlen, Heinrich von Kalnein, Nicolo Loro, Oleksnadr Ryndenko, Thomas Fröschl: woodwinds; Dominic Pessl, Gerhard Orning, Mario Stuhlhofer, Marko Solman: trumpet, flügelhorn; Adam Ladanyi, Karel Erikson, Alexander Ladreiter, Johannes Oppel: trombone.

Solo for Zagreb; Nicoleta; Ist es möglich?; The Groove; Round Midnight; Islamwissenschaft; Liquid; Garden Sensibilities; Hessischer Walz.

During several decades the big band in jazz was similar to mainstream-jazz, if not old-school-jazz. Until the 1990's when composer-conductors such as Maria Schneider, Jim McNeely, Vince Mendoza and others came along and redefined the sound and the concept of the big band. A new audience was found while the old shadows of the past were fading fast.

Today, composers for big band face at least two problems: how to deal with the burden of the past when big bands were similar to popular music and how to deal with the innovations and discoveries made in the last decades.

Emiliano Sampaio has largely solved these two problems. He has a good sense of what the golden days of the big band have given to the world. Also, he is open to the innovations of the last decades. His compositions are full of beautiful musical moments.The band clearly loves to play his compositions.

What he offers is rather too much than too little. Every piece is full of shifts from one beautiful musical idea to another. The coherence between all this musical beauty is not always as strong as it could be.

There are three types of pieces on this CD. Instrumental pieces, pieces with a vocalist and pieces with a poetry-slam.

Poetry-slam and big band: a seldom seen combination. Here, the way of composing of Emiliano Sampaio works the best. In 'Islamwissenschaft', Islam Science, a study at certain universities, the poet cynically mocks and criticized the educational system. Despite all good intentions of promoting cultural integration, the study remains 'just another subject'. The many unexpected turns the poet makes, are well decorated by the additive form in which Emiliano Sampaio writes. This type of poetry is reinforcing by this way of writing for big band.

In the two pieces with the excellent singers, the voice is another color in the rich and multi-layer arrangement of 'Round Midnight' and of the composition 'Garden Sensibilities'. 'Round Midnight' is particularly strong with its recurrent countermelodies and its spooky atmosphere.

'Liquid' is the instrumental composition in which the composer manages best in staying focused. The piece is highly programmatic, evocative and descriptive. Clichés are not avoided, such as flowing melodies, but they work very well. There is a strong inner logic and coherence that is missed at times in some of the other compositions.

Emiliano Sampaio is surely not the only one in the struggle to avoid the rigor and dominance of the score when it comes to writing new compositions for large ensembles in jazz. A balance must be found between what you can do and what you must do. The compositions must give birth to improvisations, support them and bed them in. The big band has to come alive and depart on a journey with the score as a compass. Not an easy tasks for Emilian Sampaio and composers of his generation. The Mega Mereneu Project is a very successful one. Well produced, extremely accurate played music, and a contagious kind of freshness. It shows potential, craft, tons of musicality and mega hopes for the future.