Sol Do Meio Dia
Egberto Gismonti guitars, piano, kalimba, percussion, flute, voice
Nana Vasconcelos berimbau, percussion
Ralph Towner guitar
Collin Walcott tabla
Jan Garbarek soprano saxophone
Recorded November 1977 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Inspired by his time spent with the Xingu Indians of the Amazon, to whom the album is also dedicated, Sol Do Meio Dia (Midday Sun) is a consistently intriguing transitional album from multi-instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti. With him are percussionists Nana Vasconcelos and Collin Walcott and guitarist Ralph Towner, as well as Jan Garbarek on soprano saxophone for a brief spell. At this point in his career, Gismonti was beginning to fill in the porous sound of his 8-string guitar. To this end, Vasconcelos and Walcott flesh out much of the dizzying rhythmic space that defines his sound, while Towner’s 12-string laces the background with more explicit chording. Walcott traces magical circles in “Raga,” for which Gismonti engages us with nimble fingerwork on the guitar’s highest harmonics. Thus begins a chain of sporadic bursts acting in dialogue. With modest virtuosity, the musicians run hand-in-hand down this ecstatic path of music-making to an even more specific sound, this time marked by kalimba and thumb piano. Gismonti’s shrill flute and wordless chanting here recall the work of CODONA. “Coração” is a rich solo and, along with the album’s closer, is a perfect exposition of Gismonti’s notecraft. The disc finishes with a 25-minute suite. Garbarek makes his only appearance in the opening section, which glows with his mournful ululations. An inviting solo from Towner opens the ears to another fluted passage anchored by percussion and handclaps. One can feel the forest at such moments as if it were living and breathing all around us.
The combination of musicians is pure ECM and reflects the brilliant casting of producer Manfred Eicher. As airy as Sol Do Meio Dia sounds, it is also weighted with a certain nostalgia that is difficult to quantify. Like a memory, its actors are always out of focus even when their intentions ring clear. And in the end the intentions are what it’s all about.