Award-winning percussionist, composer, producer Alex Pertout has released his latest album Quadrifoglio on Nailuj Music (The Planet/MGM). This ambitious and inspired album showcases Pertout’s original works, which were conceived, developed, arranged and produced specifically to highlight the art of percussion and percussive improvisation in a variety of creative settings. The album features Pertout both in duo and solo formats, in the former engaging in improvisatory dialogues with four world percussion masters: legendary US conguero Raul Rekow, English multi-percussion expert Pete Lockett, Egyptian tabla master Hossam Ramzy and with Australian master drummer David Jones.
Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips sat down with Alex Pertout over a zoom call to discuss the making of his new album QUADRIFOGLIO
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Quadrifoglio aims to create a unique listening experience, highlighting the art of percussion and showcasing Alex Pertout’s virtuosity and creativity as multi-instrumentalist, improvisor, composer and producer. The works feature landscapes of polyrhythmic performances making use of a vast array of percussion instruments including congas, berimbau, bongos, kanjira, djembe, cajon and udu, as well as melodic and harmonic segments performed on vibes, marimba, glockenspiel, nyunga nyunga mbira, quena, quenacho, electric piano and synthesizers, enhanced by selected loops, electronic textures, soundscapes and personal atmospheric field recordings. The album opens with Akhuya (‘Dear Bother’), a percussive interplay featuring Pertout on congas and celebrated Egyptian percussionist Hossam Ramzy on his beloved tabla. This energetic opener is followed by Entrada del Rio (‘The River’s Entrance’), one of two marimba led lyrical rubato works that serve as a bridge between the more rhythmical paced material. This work also featuring a solo on cajón, the Andean sounds of the quena and quenacho as well as the irresistible flow and sound of the Rio Urubamba recorded on location in Machu Picchu Pueblo, Peru.
Namatu Kirāmam (‘Our Village’) is inspired by Pertout’s wide-ranging percussive research interests. His carnatic rhythmic language research developed during his decades long association and collaboration between the Australian Art Orchestra and master Guru Karaikudi R. Mani. This piece features an interplay with renowned English world multi-percussion expert Pete Lockett on gatham and on an inspirational vocal percussive solkattu, a feature known in performance as konnakol. I Treni di Febbraio (‘February’s Trains’) is a solo piece featuring the clay pot known as udu as well as the berimbau, along the way containing rhythmic melodic segments on nyunga nyunga mbira, marimba and glockenspiel. The recurring melody segment on vibes and various synthesizers builds in intensity as the piece expands. The opening contains some personal field recordings in Napoli’s Vanvitelli, Milan’s Centrale and Firenze’s Santa Maria Novella stations in Italy, as well as at the local train station in Brunswick, Australia. Portrait of Santiago opens with personal field recordings of the ocean in Varadero, Cuba and Viña Del Mar, Chile and features an energetic free-form conga solo, enmeshed in a kaleidoscope of percussive textures and atmospheric field sounds personally recorded in the streets, the metro and the metro stations of Santiago, Chile. Towards the closing you also hear the remarkable sound of the bell of the Catedral Metropolitana of Zocalo, Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico. Oneness showcases a duet with Pertout’s long-time friend and colleague, Australian master drummer David Jones. The rhythmic r&b inspired work, serves as a base for a creative interplay between Jones and Pertout. The work includes open individual solo segments, as well as trade-off sections of various lengths, which reflects and highlights upon a life-long musical and rhythmic connection. Salida del Rio (‘The River’s Exit’) is the second of the marimba led rubato solo works, featuring a lyrical segment, along with a quartet of berimbaus, a solo kanjira feature, melodic improvisations on the Andean quena and quenacho and a cameo of the irresistible flow and sound of the Rio Urubamba recorded on location in Machu Picchu Pueblo, Peru.
The album closes with El Jardín del Ritmo (‘The Rhythmic Garden’) a work that features a duet with Pertout’s dear friend and influential mentor, the legendary conguero of Santana band fame Raul Rekow. In this showcase Rekow is featured improvising on the quinto drum right through the piece, while Pertout employs a set of bongos played with sticks, engaging in dynamic trade-offs of various lengths with Rekow, in selected sections of the piece. Alex Pertout is a Chilean born award-winning Australian percussionist, composer, educator, recording artist and producer. His musical percussive touch has graced hundreds of albums and singles including many popular Australian iconic radio hits such as Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘The Horses’ and Powderfinger’s ‘My Happiness’. A founding member of the Australian Art Orchestra, he toured worldwide with the ensemble for over twenty-years and has also attained countless credits on soundtrack recordings, live performances covering a wide musical spectrum, as well as a respected educator and academic, serving as a senior lecturer in the Jazz & Improvisation Department at the University of Melbourne for decades. In tandem he has developed a personal creative artistic career and has produced albums as a multi-instrumentalist performer and composer. His productions which feature performances by outstanding national and international guests, have received critical acclaim and won a ‘Premio Internacional’ at the 2015 Cuban Music Awards (Cubadisco).