The Portuguese flutist, improviser, and composer Carlos Bechegas may be less known than his compatriot Carlos Zingaro, but his originality and virtuosity are just as striking. An arts and crafts teacher, Bechegas began playing saxophone and flute in swing orchestras and jazz-rock groups, before dedicating his activities to free improvisation. He later turned exclusively to the flute, developing a wide range of extended techniques and perfecting a system of pitch-to-midi electronics to have real-time control of the instrument's possibilities. Coming from a saxophone background, he "imported" techniques pioneered by the likes of Evan Parker and Anthony Braxton and applied them to the flute, a neglected woodwind when it comes to the history of free improvisation. That, and his extensive use of voice/breathing effects, gives Bechegas' music a unique organic, animal quality. He resumed his recording career in 1997, slowly establishing himself as a creative force, although his efforts have rarely reached audiences outside Portugal.
Bechegas (born 1957) was an artist from an early age. Growing up he studied drawing, and at age 18 he was already teaching drawing, arts, and crafts at the Lisbon Official School, a job that would continue to support him financially throughout his career. In 1977, he started to play professionally as a flutist, and soprano and alto saxophonist, with mainstream jazz and rock ensembles, participating in many recording sessions. He formed his own bebop quartet in 1980, and from 1983 to 1987 was part of Carlos Zingaro's trio Plexus.
All the while, Bechegas was getting in touch with avant-garde music, working his way from John Coltrane to Ornette Coleman and then to Braxton, Parker, and Derek Bailey. He attended every workshop held in Lisbon and studied extended flute techniques with Pierre Ives Artaud. In 1987, he began to work with flute and electronics, using a pitch-to-midi converter to hook up the instrument to a synthesizer he controlled with a set of foot pedals.
By 1988, Bechegas had dropped the saxophone entirely and chosen to devote his music career to improvisation. For almost a decade he organized workshops and music meetings, and developed his technique, but remained completely silent on record. His first CD came out in 1997 on Leo Records Laboratory. Split between his trio project IK*Zs (3) and solo performances, it went by rather unnoticed. The 1998 Flute Landscapes showed all the extent of his talent in a series of short solo improvisations focusing on specific techniques and effects — a glossary of the modern flute. In April 2001, he created the record label Forward and released Open Secrets, a duet with bassist Peter Kowald, one of his main influences. ~ François Couture, Rovi