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