Sao Paulo, Brazil guitarist Jorge Shy opens Crossing Path with a contemplative flourish, hinting at a thoughtful quietude. Then, Caio Milan and Marcos Flo leap to the fore on drums and bass, sending “Campo dos Sonhos” – and Crossing Path – into previously unimagined places: Put simply, it swings like mad. As a composer, Shy has tipped his hand: Crossing Path succeeds by way of its broad color palette, and its layered sense of musical adventure. See, “Campo dos Sonhos” eventually stretches even further out, taking in elements of free jazz as Felipe de Souza adds turbulent thoughts on the violin, before finally returning to earth. It’s an ambitious beginning, and one that Crossing Path very much makes good on.
Shy, a graduate of Berklee in jazz composition and film scoring, takes an appropriately cinematic approach to “Acasos,” opening with a riffy turn even as his rhythm section works a lilting cadence – only to ramp up into a more determined groove. Shy responds in kind, unleashing a series of molten asides. The trio finally exhales, then, as “Acasos” returns to its opening’s dream-like reverie.
Pianist Ricard Pacheco is added for the emotional “Song for Fukushima,” and he contributes these cascading rivulets of sound even as the trio offers a series of delicately drawn musical thoughts. Flo’s angular solo turn on the bass works in deft counterpoint to the deep sadness that envelops this track. Meanwhile, “On the Edge” works in a more straight-ahead fashion, with Shy unholstering every weapon in his arsenal – from Wes Montgomery-ish plucks to soaring electric lines out of the Allan Holdsworth playbook.
“Carneiros Alados” follows with this regal mystery, recalling the sweeping songscapes of Miles Davis’ collaborations with Gil Evans. Shy’s opening, so full of portent, then suddenly gives way to something altogether different, as if the morning sun has suddenly broken through a roiling dark storm cloud. Flo and Milan bolster things with a series of incisive rhythmic flourishes, giving Shy the perfect platform for an exploration into the joy that follows our darkest moments. It is, alas, the last time we hear this trio in full flight, as Crossing Path moves into a series of pieces focusing on Shy alone. If there is a complaint to be made about this well-executed project, it’s that the pacing might have been improved by scattering these solo pieces about.
That said, each of them is a wonder, as Shy steps out completely into the spotlight. “Willie,” for instance, finds the guitarist switching back to acoustic, giving the song an oaken majesty. He goes on to add steel guitar and, in that interwoven moment, Shy creates a quietly emotive conversation. The short but involving solo vehicle “Vento da Saudade” follows, giving Shy an opportunity to convey an even more personal set of musical thoughts. Shy, who co-produced the album with Rodrigo Antao, does so with an easy-going authority, letting the silences play out to a degree that they add new depths of meaning to the notes that follow.
Shy then switches to a spindly, ever energetic dobro, along with a whisper of synthesizer, to the subsequent “Talking to the Wolf,” smartly returning Crossing Path to the widescreen atmospherics with which it began. The album closes out “Satie et les Enfants,” a final original from Shy, and another sweeping narrative moment: He begins – after we hear the sound of children happily playing – with a ringing statement, so full of reflective beauty. That playground motif returns, even as Shy continues to explore a countervailing nostalgia. Crossing Path, though it might have been scripted better for having included Milan and Flo more judiciously throughout, ends then as it should: with Shy again combining a series of competing ideas, concepts and textures to brilliant effect.