Academia de Danças
Egberto Gismonti piano, electric piano, guitar, Indian flute, synthesizer, organ, whistles, voice
Roberto Silva drums
Luís Alves bass
Nivaldo Ornelas soprano saxophone, flute
Tenório Jr. electric piano
Mauro Senise flute
Paulo Guimarães flute
Dulce Bressane voice
Mauricio Maestro voice
Marcio Montarroyos flugelhorn
Darcy da Cruz trumpet
Ed Maciel trombone
Mario Tavares conductor
Recorded at Porão Studio
Engineer: Filipe Cavalieri
Mixed by Egberto Gismonti and Filipe Cavalieri
Produced by Carmo Produções Artísticas Ltda
Production assistant: Dulce Bressane
Release date: January 1, 1992
Academia de Danças is one of Egberto Gismonti’s most personal hybrids and, along with Circense, represents so much of what he would become as an internationally renowned auteur. Originally released in 1974 on EMI and reissued as the fifth CARMO release in 1992, the present record was a watershed moment in his career and inspired an entire generation of listeners and future musicians growing up under his influence.
All of the music, save for the final piece, is delivered by way of Gismonti’s pen, and compels the composer to emote through guitar, Indian flute, keyboards (plugged and unplugged), and his own voice. In addition to some constant musical companions, he welcomes the spread of a string orchestra for “Corações Futuristas,” the first of two epic suites that comprise the program. From the very beginning, we can tell that the production values have stepped up to accommodate the breadth of imagery being rendered for our ears (as eyes). Traversing five parts, from the waterwheel guitar, voice (Dulce Bressane), and charming electronics of “Palácio de Pinturas” to the electric unraveling of “Scheherazade” (in which the sounds of a cheering crowd make for an intriguing effect), Gismonti and company embody the concept of variegation to wide extent. “Jardim de Prazeres” is more rhythmically nimble and features a self-divided guitar, along with Gismonti’s singing, for a rock-ish vibe. In the wake of that explosion, we get the tender salve of “Celebração de Núpcias,” in which Gismonti’s guitar, strings, and Bressane’s wordlessness paint a forest of dreams for us to wander in until we arrive at “A Porta Encantada.” Only this enchanted door is rife with mischief and deception, as if tainted by a spell to ward off any who might presume to venture through it.
The album’s title song cycle is a microcosm of painterly abilities. The lovelorn “Bodas de Prata” walks paths of uncertainty into “Quatro Cantos,” throughout which electronic imitations of crickets and birds populate a space peripherally haunted by Bressane. Wandering in slow motion through the thickness of night, it takes us into the depths of “Vila Rica 1720.” Here Gismonti evokes the riot of that same year, when Portuguese descendants fought against the Brazilian metropole. Following an energetic lullaby and a couple of free dives into jazzier gradations, we navigate the forest once more in “Polichinelo” (steering clear of animal-like rustlings in the piano) until we hop on the “Trem Noturno” (Night Train). What begins with piano and voice turns into a sequencer extravaganza, contrasted by chanting children. “Baião do Acordar” is the only non-Gismonti piece. Written by Djair de Barros e Silva (a.k.a. Novelli), it links a small chorus of voices into a chain that pulls us toward a fiery soprano saxophone solo by Nivaldo Ornelas. Thus transported, we arrive at our station, renewed and resilient to whatever may come.
Original vinyl cover: