Musical America Worldwide: “Archetypes” review

Published on May 11, 2021 by Clive Paget       |      Share this post!

“…a sparkling tonic of a disc.”

“What’s most impressive here is the singularity of vision achieved by six potentially disparate composers.”

“a crowd-pleasing collaboration”

Contemporary music can be a prickly affair, but for those driven by the pleasure principle it’s nice to know there are some seriously thoughtful composers out there offering new music to listeners looking for a good time. That’s certainly the case with Archetypes, a crowd-pleasing collaboration between Sérgio and Clarice Assad and Chicago-based quartet Third Coast Percussion (TCP).

Sérgio Assad won his first Latin Grammy back in 2002 and has been twice nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. His daughter, Brazilian-American composer and performer Clarice, spans the worlds of classical, world music, pop, and jazz. TCP members (Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin, and David Skidmore), both play and compose; they are as comfortable in the world of Philip Glass as they are taking on Missy Mazzoli, Danny Elfman, or Georg Friedrich Haas. The album is all about finding common ground, seeking inspiration in objects or figures that crop up in storytelling worldwide, with the new pieces representing 12 archetypes—sage, hero, jester, magician, lover, etc.—as previously agreed upon by the ensemble member/composers.

The result is a lively collection of shorts basking in the laidback Latin grooves of the two Assads and turbocharged by TCP’s battery of instruments. What’s most impressive here is the singularity of vision achieved by six potentially disparate composers. The explosive African rhythms of Clarice Assad’s “Rebel” overlaid with her mellow vocals sit comfortably alongside her father’s coolly expansive “Innocent,” which in turn shares musical fingerprints with David Skidmore’s “Lover” with
its gentle guitar riffs flecked with iridescent xylophone. High octane numbers include “Magician,” with its whirligig waltz decked out with rippling bell tree, and the anarchic “Jester” with its playful use of mouth harp. From the shimmering ecstasies of “Creator” to the crest-of-a-wave stomp of “Hero,” Archetypes is a sparkling tonic of a disc.