Egberto Gismonti Group
Egberto Gismonti piano, guitars
Nando Carneiro synthesizers, guitar
Zeca Assumpção bass
Jacques Morelenbaum cello
Recorded November 1990 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Egberto Gismonti cuts a fascinating figure, even among ECM’s already populous roster. The Brazilian multi-instrumentalist never fails to delight with his nostalgic mix of folk and personal melodic elements. In this sense, the opening “Ensaio de escola de samba (Dança dos Escravos)” is emblematic. Combining the Ralph Towner-like flurry of his guitar with bass and cello (the latter courtesy of Jacques Morelenbaum, of Morelenbaum2fame) riding musical waves into an oncoming storm, we visualize a deep and colorful ocean. Gismonti’s pianism is even more inspiring. His sound—every bit as lush as Keith Jarrett’s—levels the playing field in the carnivalesque of “7 Anéis” and in the lushness of “A fala da paixão,” throughout which he pulls the past through the sky like a thread through a needle. He is joined by a cello’s comet and distant supernovas of bass for an ascent toward blissful stillness.
“Meninas” finds Gismonti in ghosted form, providing both the pianistic scenography and the raindrop guitar that populates its stage. Bass and cello continue stringing their pearls, moving in gusts and pauses like the wind. The title track floats a cello over a Steve Reichean ostinato. One finds also a Chick Corea exuberance at play here, both in the sparkling musicianship and in the writing. Some turns from synth add a darker side to this bright memory. “Recife & O amor que move o sol e outras estrelas” then offers a chance to hear Gismonti’s skills at the keyboard in fuller bloom. This track is yet another sparkling jewel, theatrical and full of contrast. We close with two dances for guitar and cello, invigorating and prickling the sunset like a silhouetted cactus, and joins its playful dissonances to the calls of children at play.
This album shows the maturity of Gismonti’s writing, his evolution as melody-maker and musician. This huge slice of life treads its past as might a youth through a jar of marbles, picking out only those clearest and most aesthetically pleasing to click among the rest.