Title: Broken Lights (EP)
Artist: Gustavo Caldas
Release Date: 2014 Apr 06
Genre: Ambient Piano Jazz
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Webbed Hand Records


I was listening to some jazz ¬†on Facebook earlier this evening: Oscar Peterson’s Big4. ¬†The occasion is Oscar’s 86th birthday, so the remarkable trumpet player¬†Paul (Doc) Smoker shared a video from Oscar Peterson’s music page. ¬†I love all sorts of Jazz music, and Gustavo Caldas brings us the warmth through the broken lights in his music: a more ambient form of jazz mixed with a bit of mysticism.

Warmth Through The Broken Lights

Gustavo is a professional musician.  He has been a member of the duo Beyond Absence (with Mauro Longordo) for over 6 years, with four releases on Webbed Hand Records. On Broken Lights, Gustavo takes the words of the poet, social activist, Catholic mystic Thomas Merton (1915-1968) as bookends for a recording of highly melodic and lush music.

This is the work of an artist that wants his music to express a simple, singular theme.  As introduced through Merton, the theme of this work is simply love.  In exploring this theme, Gustavo presents us with a tightly inter-related four movement work.  Each movement examines love from a different perspective.

‘Out Of Sight’ is the opening movement, and examines the knowledge that there is love around us even when we cannot see it. ¬†It’s the perception of love that exists with us at all times. ¬†On ‘Dim’ he examines love that has faded, dimmed or is distant. ¬†The piano is set in a deep echo, far away from our ears to represent the distance. ¬†But we can still here it clearly, we can still feel the love and passion through the melody. ¬†‘Luminous’ brings us back into the light, whereas¬†‘Dim’ put things at a distance from us, ‘Luminous’ brings them back to the foreground. ¬†We have the feeling of love¬†blooming and growing around us.

The final movement is ‘Presence’, the epitome of living¬†within love itself. ¬†Living with it in our hearts, and letting our love out for others to feel and share. ¬†It’s this presence that Gustavo is sharing with us through this recording.

When i was in high school there was a weekend where both George Winston and Keith Jarrett were giving performances.  The news paper had a full-page layout with pictures of both pianists side by side: Winston sitting properly at the piano, while Jarrett was standing, bent at the knees with his back arched looking like he was attacking the instrument.  It was as sharp a contrast as you can get.

Gustavo Caldas’ performance on Broken Lights mixes some of the best aspects of both performers. ¬†There are light hints of Jarrett style phrasing and line in the melodies on this work, while the overall composition and arrangement bears a resemblance to George Winston’s works. And, like Winston and Jarrett, Caldas has a natural instinct for writing some exquisite piano ballads.


Framing a work with quotations from a Catholic mystic might seem to be a pretty heavy thing to do in a work. ¬†However, in the hands of Gustavo Caldas it is quite appropriate. ¬†He doesn’t bludgeon us with a religious message. ¬†Instead he takes a simple passage and uses it to from his exploration of four perspectives on the theme of love. ¬†His sense of melody, line, and arrangement makes this an exceptionally¬†beautiful recording to listen to. ¬†It really is a pleasure to experience the warmth through the broken lights.


Gustavo Caldas: Broken Lights




Posted by George De Bruin