There is no one more eminently qualified to re-imagine the art of the Hermeto Pascoal but O Grande Bruxo himself… unless one considers Jovino Santos Neto, of course. The composer and pianist who also favours the melodica was the most prominent member of Hermeto Pascoal’s Grupo from 1977 to 1992 and editor of Tudo é Som a book featuring 32 of Hermeto Pascoal’s best-known works. And when you add the brilliant young pianist André Mehmari, you can expect something truly authentic and special. Indeed the album Guris is just that; a monumental celebration of the music of Hermeto Pascoal, O Grande Bruxo (The Great Wizard), and one of the most significant and memorable musicians – not only in Brasil, but in the world at large.
There are several other aspects of Guris that also make it a significant album. It contains work by the master that you are not likely to hear elsewhere. Jovino Santos Neto, was, after all the Grupo’s musical director for a noteworthy length of time and – more than that – has a somewhat deeper knowledge of Hermeto Pascoal’s complete repertoire. “Bailando Com Cerveja” (“Dancing With Beer”) is one such song; a short work redolent in rhythmic and melodic souvenirs of the composer’s beer-drinking adventures wryly observed in song. Guris is also an attempt to capture the complexities of Hermeto Pascoal’s virtually-orchestral palette on (just two) pianos, with the occasional use of the Fender Rhodes, a harmonium, flute and melodica. And, best of all, Hermeto Pascoal pays the musicians a visit to play on three songs bringing with him nothing but a teakettle through which he sings, and a melodica.
Throughout his career Hermeto Pascoal has always been an indefatigable modernist in the thick of the great battle of the ancient and the modern. Deeply affected by African and traditional music he encountered while growing up in Lagoa da Canoa, Alagoas in Northeastern Brasil, its rhythms, melodies – modal and otherwise – and raucous bonhomie sets his entire world a-leaping. Funneling all of this through their own virtuoso pianism (together with the depth of knowledge that Jovino Santos has set before the table and the youthful vigour of André Mehmari) both the pianists have come together with the master himself to create an album, the sheer magnificence of which provides the library of Hermeto Pascoal’s oeuvre with structural pillars the likes of which have rarely appeared on disc. Added to this are three songs – two composed by André Mehmari and one by Jovino Santos Neto – that make this an extra-special addendum to the library of music.
In his contribution to the liner notes, Jovino Santos Neto raises an important question that refers to the nature of this music in the context of perceived discussions of whether it is “…‘classical’ or ‘Jazz’ or ‘regional’ or any other label…’ but then he goes on to provide the best – indeed the only – answer to the question. He talks of the all-important experience of encountering Hermeto Pascoal’s music and how “…it flowed from the wonderful intuition of Hermeto’s artistry into our two hearts and four hands.” These words shall become the best equipment in the toolbox to unlock these gems inside the mind’s ear of the listeners’ own hearts.
Track list: 1: Samba do Belaqua; 2: Baião da Sorte; 3: Bailando Com Cerveja; 4: Aquela Valsa; 5: Dois Santos: Jorge e Antonio; 6: Igrejinha; 7: Tamboô d’Oshó; 8: Certeza; 9: Guris; 10: Andorinhas; 11: Pro Hermeto; 12: Jovino Em Realengo; 13: Acordando Com Os Acordes.
Personnel: Jovino Santos Neto: piano, melodica, flute; André Mehmari: piano, harmonium, Fender Rhodes, bandolim; With Special Guest: Hermeto Pascoal: teakettle, melodica (4, 6, 12).
Label: Adventure Music