Egberto Gismonti 10 & 14-string guitars, piano
Nando Carneiro guitar, synthesizer
Zeca Assumpção double-bass
Recorded April 1995 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Six original compositions from Egberto Gismonti comprise this, his 14th effort for ECM. Having already honed a broader sound in recordings like Música de Sobrevivência and Infância, for ZigZag the Brazilian virtuoso set his fingers dancing in the company of fellow guitarist Nando Carneiro (retained from the above two sessions) and bassist Zeca Assumpção. The absence of Jacques Morelenbaum changes the sound colors significantly. One might very well miss the cellist’s fluid presence were it not for the distinct quality of the music presented here, which is of such a different stripe that it elides comparison. The trio meshes so well that it becomes one large stringed instrument, such that by the second track, “Mestiço & Caboclo,” we are convinced of something profoundly shared. A kiss of whimsy deepens it that much more. Here, as in “Orixás,” Assumpção is the emotional maypole around which Gismonti and Carneiro twine their ribbons, the pen of a love letter in a hand familiar to anyone who’s ever taken a moment’s quiet contemplation. After the jagged defenestration of “Carta De Amor,” perhaps best expressing the album’s title, the group leader moves from fretboard to keyboard for “Um Anjo” in an arresting duet with bass. The nostalgia here is palpable, with enough left over for “Forrobodó,” in which orchestral accents from synthesizer add italics to an already bold text.
The beauty of this spirited recording is that, though it may not evoke the sights and sounds of our home, it welcomes us as if they were.