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Egberto Gismonti: Guitars That Dazzle

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Egberto Gismonti: Guitars That Dazzle

Egberto Gismonti: Guitars That Dazzle

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Finally this hour, an innovative guitarist and composer from Brazil. His name is Egberto Gismonti. Our reviewer Banning Eyre has been listening closely to Gismonti's latest release. It includes a disc of orchestral arrangements and a disc of guitar music. And Banning Eyre finds that second disc so stunning, he can't stop listening to it.

(Soundbite of music)

BANNING EYRE: Back in the '70s, Egberto Gismonti was one of the genre-bending ECM label's great discoveries. Classically trained in Paris, he wove jazz and Brazilian traditions into a sound so expansive, he needed ten strings rather than six, and created his own explosive picking techniques along the way.

(Soundbite of music)

EYRE: Okay. This track from Gismonti's new release is actually him playing with his son, Alexandre. But how many strings or hands are involved, there's no mistaking Gismonti's ferocious attack and roiling rhythms.

(Soundbite of music)

EYRE: Gismonti mixes the lush voicings of classical composers Ravel is a favorite with the lively cadences of the Brazilian string music called choro. Choro began as a folksy instrumental genre going back to the 19th century. It grew to incorporate jazz harmonies, and you can hear its echoes in this piece aptly titled "Two Guitars."

(Soundbite of song, "Two Guitars")

EYRE: There are three fine solo performances here: One from Egberto and two from Alexandre. But the seven tracks where father and son converse with breathless intimacy are the real payoff. The music is serious and highly technical, but also playful, and there's an entrancing sweetness in the interactions.

(Soundbite of music)

EYRE: Few sounds get under the skin quite as readily as that of bare hands plucking nylon strings. The Gismontis make you feel the physicality and sensuousness of every note. Their palette of sounds and ideas is so broad and varied that the music is impossible to classify. Just call this session the most exciting guitar playing you're likely to hear all year.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: Banning Eyre is senior editor at Afropop.org. He was reviewing the guitar music from a new double CD by Egberto Gismonti. It's called "Saudacoes."

(Soundbite of music)

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