Vitor Pereira @ Pizza Express


Reviewing the guitarist/bandleader’s intriguing London showcase…




Guitar-wielding composer Vitor Pereira brought both his bands to Soho’s Pizza Express in early November, showcasing a superb pair of records inspired by the work of Swiss thinker Carl Gustav Jung. In keeping with the eclectic complexity of Jung’s analytic-psychiatric writings, the music overflowed with clash and contrast, setting moments of melodic fire and spiralling chromatic fantasies within restrained, robust architecture – with Natalie Rozario’s bass-replacing cello used more like a thick-toned electric guitar, and Pereira’s guitar functioning more like a piano. The Porto-born axeman’s pandemic-induced turn towards film music was evident throughout, with roving, rhapsodic composition structures favoured over the familiar changes of the standard jazz repertoire. 


Collective Unconscious (introduced as “a contrast between darkness and luminosity…the world of the subconscious”) visited realms of geometric mysticism, while Dreams, Myths, & Fairytales saw Pereira’s tastefully-pedalled Telecaster summon gentle drones from natural harmonics. Always retaining a coherent compositional stream (one very much ‘led by a guitarist’ rather than ‘guitar-led’), Pereira augmented his quartet to a quintet for the second half via the introduction of Chris Williams, who conspired with Duncan Eagles to conjure dense, double-sax improvisations and wild melodic interplay. Often, the divides between different tracks were pleasingly unclear, with titles unannounced (and quickly-announced CDs offered for free at the end!).


  • The Collective Unconscious – Vitor Pereira Quintet:

“This ideal of internationalism…which we find in sport, and, very expressively, in cinema, and in jazz music. These are certainly characteristic symptoms of our time – they show unmistakably that the ideals of humanism must be made to embrace the body also…(Jung: Modern Man in Search of a Soul)


While Jung’s own ears may well have been somewhat ambivalent about the evening’s sonic offerings (“in reality, I cannot abide…polyphonic music”), he would – not least as an early advocate of art therapy – embrace the collaborative ideals and subconscious-sharing impulses on display. In the end, it heartens to witness such freshness of form (and also to see Jung’s legacy lead to something so far removed from the twisted misinterpretations peddled by Jordan Peterson & co.). A full 61 years on from his 1961 passing, the Swiss thinker’s expansive writings continue to inspire – and the humble Telecaster (invented a full decade prior) continues to open up new spaces of sound.



• Vitor Pereira (Telecaster)

• Duncan Eagles (tenor sax)

• Natalie Rozario (cello)

• Andrea Di Biase (bass)

• Marek Dorcik (drums)

• Chris Williams (alto sax in quintet)


  • Individuation – Vitor Pereira Quintet:

“One evening…I put a big kettle on the fire, to make hot water for washing up. The water began to boil, and the kettle to sing. It sounded like many voices, or stringed instruments, or even like a whole orchestra. It was just like polyphonic music, which in reality I cannot abide, though in this case it seemed peculiarly interesting….as though there were one orchestra inside the Tower, and another one outside: now one dominated, now the other, as though they were responding to each other…nature is not only harmonious; she is also dreadfully contradictory and chaotic. The music was that way too: an outpouring of sounds, having the quality of water and of wind, so strange that it is simply impossible to describe it…” (Jung: Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

George Howlett is a London-based musician and writer. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and global improvisation. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them.

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Recently I’ve worked long-term for Darbar, Guitar World, and Ragatip, and published research into tuning and John Coltrane’s raga notes. I’ve written for Jazzwise, JazzFM, and The Wire, and also record, perform, and teach in local schools. Site menu above, follow below, & get in touch here!


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