Egberto Gismonti: Frevo





Solo (ECM 1136 827 135-2)

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Egberto Gismonti (piano).

Composed by Egberto Gismonti


Recorded: Oslo, Norway, November 1978


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Outside of Brazil and certain European countries such as Germany, the overly talented Brazilian instrumentalist and composer Egberto Gismonti is hardly known. Though he has enjoyed commercial success, which is more than 99.9% of musicians in this world can say, most of his albums have been released only in those two countries. Despite this unfortunate situation, he has loyal fans in the United States who make it their business to attend shows during his very rare stateside tours.

Gismonti is a prolific composer and gifted pianist with superlative improvisational skills. He is also a very fine guitarist, playing a 10-stringed version. "Frevo" is his most recognizable composition, famously covered by the guitar duo of John McLaughlin & Paco De Lucia. The classical pianist Joanna MacGregor also has performed renditions, as have others. In some circles, it is becoming a part of the standard repertoire. Brazilian frevo is a 2/4 rhythm that is most associated with the dancing and leaping that takes place during Carnival. It is almost, though not quite, a revelers' march music. It is almost always played rapidly. Frevo is less well known than samba, but is finding its way more and more into popular Brazilian music.

Gismonti's version of his own composition is miles from the McLaughlin & De Lucia interpretation. He plays the melody a bit faster and perhaps with an added delicateness. Once he gets going, though, he takes the tune OUT. Because he is playing solo, he has more freedom than the guitar duo. At mid-tune, Gismonti turns into Bill Evans. His style is pure classicism. He plays beautiful chords and fragile single-note runs. Hints of Brazil disappear. He spends a great deal of time exposing frevo's vulnerabilities before returning to the Latin-tinged theme. This is a brilliant performance of an outstanding composition. To help remedy Gismonti's comparatively limited fame, please search YouTube, where you will find all sorts of wonderful examples of his musical mastery.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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