H.C. (standing for “Hors Catégorie”) is the consequence of the interaction between four Spanish musicians positively fascinated by a combination of ECM fumes and vague progressive tones. They blend these attributes into a form of polite jazz warranting the total absence of risks for the listener, sometimes looking at the sky to catch the faraway purple stripes of the fading sun. Occasionally they even manage to take a couple of useful snapshots of that view.

Flutist and lone composer Juan Saiz and pianist Marco Mezquida appear to know, feel and find themselves very well. The rhythm section (contrabassist Álex Reviriego and drummer Genís Bagés) does its best to support the steady flow of phrases coming from the aforementioned tandem, intelligently holding their horses in more pensive episodes. Still, the acoustic spirit transmitted by the quartet is not deprived of predictability; as an example, the closing track “G35” presents a veritable chain of commonplaces ending in an awful cadenza. Let me be clear: if you’re into serious instrumental boldness, this is not the right place to be.

However, Pindio’s regular visits to melancholic composure (as in “¡Álex, Nos Engañan!” and “La Badia Més Maca Del Món”) save the day several times, thus increasing the album’s worth of a tad or two. In those instances, the band’s attentive control on the piece’s mood cannot be overlooked. To summarize, this music is almost perfect as a complement (I don’t necessarily mean “wallpaper” because, in truth, there are nice moments) if your afternoon is unfolding without trouble. But, again, it doesn’t really offer enough innovative traits to corrupt a pair of practiced ears.

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