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Egberto Gismonti portrait A remarkably prolific artist, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti became a fixture on the artsier end of the '70s jazz-fusion scene, particularly through a number of albums recorded with percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. Gismonti absorbed homegrown, tribal Brazilian styles while living in the Amazon rainforest; he later studied classical and improvisational theory in Europe, and has balanced different compositional strains of throughout his career. Many jazz fans find his music too loose and diffuse, while Gismonti's adherents maintain a diehard devotion to his work. I have to confess, I'm no expert on his music, having heard only a few of his early albums while growing up around Chick Corea fans and the like... Nonetheless, here's the beginning of a look at Gismonti's extensive discography, with reviews to be added as time permits...


Egberto Gismonti "Egberto Gismonti" (PolyGram, 1969)
An interesting early album by this Braz-jazz avant-fusionist. The material ranges from Baden Powell-style acoustic guitar instrumentals to orchestral bossa ballads in the style of Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque, or even early Milton Nascimento. The jazzier tracks are pretty lightweight -- bouncy piano-led numbers which are only a step or two ahead of early '60s bossa-jazz bands such as the Tamba Trio, et al... Only the oddly discordant string arrangements on tracks such as "Tributo A Wes Montgomery" hint at his later, deeper spaciness. However, his multi-instrumentalism is highlighted throughout -- he plays guitar and piano, as well as handling vocals, and wrote all the songs. Although some aspects of this album are underwhelming, it's still pretty interesting to hear his early roots, and also to get a sense of where he connected to the budding MPB scene he later left behind.

Egberto Gismonti "Sonho 70" (Polygram, 1970)
(Produced by Egberto Gismonti & Roberto Menescal)

A fairly marginal and busy-sounding album, co-produced with Roberto Menescal, which takes its cue from the goofy Italian and French soundtrack music of the time, with oddball random jazz-pop arrangements and spacy scat vocals. I know that kind of stuff is really hip right now, but this disc didn't do much for me. Things start to mellow out on here, so I suppose this could be seen as a transition into his spacier jazz stuff in the late '70s. But the historical interest wasn't enough to hold my attention.

Egberto Gismonti "Orfeo Novo" (MPS, 1971)

Egberto Gismonti "Agua E Vinho" (EMI-Odeon, 1972)

Egberto Gismonti "Egberto Gismonti" (EMI-Odeon, 1973)

Egberto Gismonti "Arvore" (ECM, 1973)
With budding jazz artist Jane Duboc, who sings and plays percussion on some tracks...

Egberto Gismonti "Acadameia De Dancas" (EMI-Odeon, 1974)

Egberto Gismonti "Coracoes Futuristas" (EMI-Odeon, 1976)

Egberto Gismonti "Danca Das Cabecas" (ECM, 1977)
The very definition of noodly, this disc is sort of a softer, quieter extension of the free jazz of the 1960s -- flashy in parts but not terribly cohesive. Initially it focuses on Gismonti's acoustic guitar, then shifts into endless improvisational piano riffs. The playing is in essence solo work, with very sparse and minimal accompaniment by a small ensemble. Not really my cup of tea, although this is one of Gismonti's best distributed and most well-known albums in the United States.

Egberto Gismonti "Carmo" (EMI-Odeon, 1977)

Egberto Gismonti "Sol Do Meio Dia" (ECM, 1977)
Here, Gismonti's travels in the Amazon rainforest pay off handsomely as he and Nana Vasconcelos explore a number of odd, haunting aural corners, heading into tribal niches that few folks in the jazz (or world music) crowds had heard before. It's a very nuanced and exploratory album, only occasionally trailing off into jazz cliches, and is more complicated than the derisive tag of "New Age easy listening" implies. Gismonti was clearly pioneering the sort of intra-ethnic folkloricism that was later so richly explored by his cohort Marlui Miranda, and this is an intensely Brazilian record. An interesting album, worth checking out.

Egberto Gismonti "No Caipira" (ECM, 1978)

Marlui Miranda "Olho D'Agua" (Warner/Continental, 1979)
Bassist Zeca Assumpcao joins vocalist Marlui Miranda and album producer/multi-instrumentalist Egberto Gismonti for a bewildering mix of native Brazilian styles and slick jazz fusion, building on the experimental folkloricism of the Sol Do Meio Dia album. Miranda is certainly one of the most challenging Brazilian artists of the post-tropicalia era... Here is where her devotion to indigenous, Amazonian music is first made manifest, on a perplexingly dense, wildly creative, and sometimes quite irritating album. You can also hear a lot of Gismonti's influence in this record, although these performances are a lot livelier than many of his own albums. To be sure, this may not be for everyone, but it's certainly an innovative tour-de-force, worth checking out if you're looking for something completely different. Folks familiar with her later albums, Ihu and Ihu II, (reviewed below) will find this disc of a piece with those albums.

Egberto Gismonti "Solo" (ECM, 1979)
A series of slower solo improvisations on various instruments -- piano, guitar, percussion -- highlighting not only Gismonti's virtuosity, but also an emotional depth that isn't always felt in his more ornate, orchestrated work. This is one of his richest and most measured albums... Definitely worth checking out!

Egberto Gismonti/Charlie Haden/Jan Garbarek "Magico" (ECM, 1980)

Egberto Gismonti "Circense" (EMI-Odeon, 1980)

Egberto Gismonti/Charlie Haden/Jan Garbarek "Folk Songs" (ECM, 1981)

Egberto Gismonti "Em Familia" (ECM, 1981)

Egberto Gismonti "Sanfona" (ECM, 1981)

Egberto Gismonti "Fantasia" (EMI, 1982)

Egberto Gismonti "Cidade Coracao" (EMI, 1983)

Egberto Gismonti "Egberto Gismonti" (EMI, 1984)

Egberto Gismonti & Nando Carneiro "Violao" (ECM/Carmo, 1984)
A syrupy, oceanic, precisely crafted album which starts on stronger footing than it ends. If you don't mind the "new age" aesthetic, then this album may feel multi-layered, dreamy and enchanting... Those not so inclined, however, will probably find it just plain goopy and a bit embarrassing. All the songs were composed by Carneiro, though Gismonti accompanies him throughout. Beth Goulart sings on one song and guitarist Andre Geraissati plays a bit on a couple of tracks.

Egberto Gismonti & Nana Vasconcelos "Duas Voces" (ECM, 1984)

Egberto Gismonti "Trem Caipira" (EMI, 1985)
Cellist/arranger Jacques Morelenbaum helped sculpt the sound of this album...

Egberto Gismonti/Charlie Haden/Jan Garbarek "Folk Songs" (ECM, 1985)

Egberto Gismonti "Alma" (EMI, 1986)

Egberto Gismonti "Feixe De Luz - Tudo Comeco E Involuntario" (EMI, 1988)

Egberto Gismonti "O Pagador De Promessas" (Som Livre, 1989?)

Egberto Gismonti "Works" (Polygram, 1989?)

Egberto Gismonti "Danca Dos Escravos" (ECM, 1989)

Egberto Gismonti "Infancia" (ECM, 1990)
The Egberto Gismonti Group, featuring Zeca Assumpcao, Narido Carneiro, and cellist Jacques Morelenbaum.

Egberto Gismonti "Amazonia" (EMI, 1990)

Egberto Gismonti "Casa Das Andorinhas" (ECM, 1992)

Egberto Gismonti "Musica Da Sobrevivencia" (ECM, 1993)

Egberto Gismonti "Zigzag" (ECM, 1996)

Egberto Gismonti "Meeting Point" (ECM, 1997)
With the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra.

Egberto Gismonti & Charlie Haden "In Montreal" (ECM, 2001)
Live recording of a fabled 1989 concert recording featuring the trio of Gismonti, Garbarek and Charlie Haden, who are renowned for their uncanny instage rapport. Fans of their studio albums will not be disappointed by this fine live performance.

Egberto Gismonti "Saudacoes" (ECM, 2009)


Egberto Gismonti "Antologia" (EMI-Brasil, 2003)
A fine 2-CD set which draws material from ten of Gismonti's hard-to-find, long out-of-print Brazilian albums, from Agua & Vinho (1972) to Alma (1986). The discs move along briskly, revealing the layers of Gismonti's explorations of sound, in all its intriguing, irritating, fusion-rid glory. A strong representative collection, with bilingual liner notes as well!

Egberto Gismonti "Rarum XI: Selected Recordings" (ECM, 2004)

Egberto Gismonti "Retratos" (EMI, 2004)

Egberto Gismonti "Rarum Box Set 2: Selected Recordings IX - XX" (ECM, 2007)


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