The Brazilian composer is at ease with everything from piano studies to full orchestra, taking an intensely polyrhythmic and contrapuntal approach to his craft. He is also a prolific record producer, and a virtuoso soloist and improviser on piano and guitar. It was in this last capacity that he opened his Barbican set, playing his piece Lundu on string guitar, accompanied by his son Alexandre on regular six-string. Egberto Gismonti cuts an eccentric figure, with red socks, beard and greying hair cascading from beneath a tight white hat.
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Egberto Gismonti is world-renowned as a multi-instrumentalist and composer. He was profoundly influenced by Brazilian master Heitor Villa-Lobos, his works reflecting the musical diversity of Brazil.
From a musical family, in which his grandfather and his uncle Edgar were bandleaders, he started to take piano and theory classes at five. Following the piano classical tradition because of his father, he embraced the guitar to please his italian mother, who was very fond of serenatas.
Trying to transpose the piano's polyphonic quality for the guitar, he ended several years later with three custom-made instruments , , and stringed and a personally developed two-hand technique. Establishing himself in Nova Friburgo, a small town near Rio, for one year and four months, he attended the Nova Friburgo Music Conservatory. Awarded with a scholarship to study classical music in Vienna, Austria, at 20, he refused it in order to delve deeper in the popular side.
This song, with its uncanny orchestration, provoked enthusiasm around and was recorded 18 different times by several international artists. This would cause him to return to Brazil in Also in , he presented himself at the San Remo Festival in Italy.
After its recording, the producer said it made no sense at all. This album was awarded with the Golden Record in Brazil. Returning to Brazil, he received a letter from ECM in , inviting him to record with them. Not knowing what would be the importance of that label, he postponed the response until the end of But the Brazilian military government had imposed a high fee for all leaving brazilians at about 7. Being that cipher prohibitive for anyone in that group but him, he decided to record solo.
Fearing that challenge, he was wandering through Norway when he met a brazilian actor who was his friend. Having to record the album in three days, he decided to have Vasconcelos into it, and asked by him to describe the album's concept, he explained that both of them had a common history, and he proposed Vasconcelos use that album for telling it.
It was the history of two boys wandering through a dense, humid forest, full of insects and animals, keeping a feet distance from each other. He knew Vasconcelos would accept without hesitation, and he did. Either way, it changed both artists' lives: Vasconcelos immediately became a disputed international artist, touring worldwide; Gismonti returned to Brazil and decided to research Amazon folklore.
They shared no common language other than music and Gismonti spent about a month living and learning with them, upon the condition of spreading the forest people's values. His LP "Solo", released that next year, sold The same year, the trio toured Europe, including a concert at the Berlin Jazz Festival , and recorded a second Magico album, entitled "Folksongs". In , Gismonti again toured with Haden and Garbarek, performing throughout Europe.
With Vasconcelos, he recorded "Duas Vozes" in As a businessman, he owns the successful label Carmo , which has several joint ventures with ECM. However, music continues to be his main focus.
Comments are illustrated with musical producer Fernando Faro.