Rodney Waterman & Doug de Vries: Água e Vinho (CARMO/14)


Rodney Waterman
Doug de Vries
Água e Vinho

Rodney Waterman recorders
Doug de Vries guitars
Recorded between November 1997 and March 1998 by Robin Gray at Allan Eaton Studios
Tracks 4, 17, 20, and 21 recorded by George Butrumlis at Adeney Studios (1999)
Mastering at Estúdio Tom Brasil, São Paulo
Sound engineer: Alberto Ranellucci
Produced by CARMO & Dulce Bressane
Release date: November 13, 2000

This collection of duets for recorder and guitar, played respectively by Rodney Waterman and Doug de Vries, comes two CARMO catalog numbers after the equally engaging duo of Ernesto Snajer and Palle Windfeldt. Breath and string are a natural combination that harks not only to the Renaissance but also to the many folk traditions that grew from such music’s spread throughout the colonized world. As melodies were taken up, transformed, embellished, and added to, they took on lives of their own, birthing entirely new cultures by melding into ancient ones. The duo’s ear for melody steeps us in these histories, lest we forget the pain and struggle often encoded into beauty.

“O ôvo” (The Egg) is one of two selections by Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal and references Pascoal’s beloved 1967 debut, Quarteto Novo, which was a harbinger of the very sort of jazz-folk hybrid for which Egberto Gismonti would soon become known. This is followed, appropriately enough, by “Bebê” (Baby). Both assume a refreshing form made evident by the baião rhythms around which they are structured.

Waterman himself is artfully represented by a handful of originals. His “Song of Reconciliation” was written in 1997 in response to the Australian government’s refusal to atone for aboriginal atrocities. Played on the tenor recorder for a more anguished sound, it nevertheless cups its hands around a pilot light of hope. The title of “Xanthorrhoea” comes from the Latin name of a grass tree species native to Australia and takes its cues from nature. Here the guitar is played like a drum, lending a bygone air. “Zana” pays homage to Australian virtuoso Zana Clarke on the very instrument she made famous: the “Ganassi” alto recorder. Accompanied by de Vries on egg-shaker, it is meant to evoke the sunlight of Brazil. “Ade” is inspired by Lazy Ade Monsbourgh’s 1956 album Recorder in Ragtime and incorporates further influences from Pascoal and Gismonti. It is played on soprano recorder and the cavaquinho (a Brazilian 4-string guitar) to effervescent effect.

Gismonti himself shines via six tunes, most of them touchstones of his compositional career. Of those, the duo’s rendering of “Frevo” is possessed of an especial fervor (hence the title) and sports some lively adlibbing in the middle section. The somber “Água e Vinho” (Water and Wine), after which this album is named, exhales without emotional compromise. Other highlights include “Parque Lage,” deepened by the bass recorder, “Lorô,” dancing with avian energy, and the omnipresent “Karatê.” The latter was actually what brought the duo together in the first place when de Vries introduced Waterman to Gismonti’s music via Alma. They even concluded their first concert in July of 1995 with the piece.

“Jorge do Fusa,” by the deeply venerated guitarist and composer Anibal Augusto Sardinha (a.k.a. “Garôto,” or “The Kid”), cleanses the proverbial palate as a prelude to four Catalan folksongs arranged by the duo. Of these, “La Nit de Nadal” (Christmas Night) is achingly nostalgic, while “El Noi de la Mare” (The Son of Mary) warms the heart. Two ricercars by Spanish Renaissance composer Diego Ortiz are just as lovely, along with of de Vries’s own, round out the scene. Where “Chorinho Toccatina” is a solo guitar piece inspired by a trip to Bali evoking forests and wildlife, “May” looks at it titular month from the southern hemisphere’s perspective, on the cusp of winter’s gaze. Let this be our hibernation.

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