Grupo Um

Starting Point

Far Out • 1975

Some artists’ beginnings remain hidden from posterity, either entirely or at least for a long time. It took the Brazilian jazz group Grupo Um almost 50 years to release their début album »Starting Point«. In 1975, brothers Lelo and Zé Eduardo Nazario, the former a pianist, the latter a drummer, joined forces with bassist Zeca Assumpção to make underground music. Literally, because they played in a cellar, but also figuratively, because their kind of music did not conform to the aesthetic doctrine under the dictatorship. They had already earned their stripes playing with sound shaman Hermeto Pascoal’s band, but were now exploring the space that opened up to them off their own bat with their vocabulary of jazz, from free to fusion to Afro-Brazilian rhythms. The tones of a berimbau meet Fender Rhodes chords, prepared piano, self-built percussion and a resolute use of the studio as an experimental laboratory. Passages where the frequencies of the instruments are difficult to assign alternate with harmonically expanded and free-spinning dissonances. It seems as if everything belongs somewhere, without us necessarily being able to discern the order when listening to it. The trio covers a considerable amount of ground in 26 minutes. Fortunately, they kept the tapes that various labels rejected at the time – and eventually brought them out again.