The complexity of Brazil, its interweaving of cultures, finds its echo in the music of Egberto Gismonti who draws on resources both sophisticated and primitive — from European classical music to the samba school to the music of the Xingu Indians and the sounds of the rainforest, from folk musics, from jazz. Highly trained as a pianist, Gismonti adapted pianistic technique in innovative manner on his customised 8- and 10- and 14-string guitars. It is his guitar artistry which is at the forefront of his :rarum collection.

Egberto Gismonti's volume in the excellent ECM Rarum series contains material from seven of his ten albums for the label as a leader, none from the 124 recordings on his own label distributed by ECM. It hardly matters. Gismonti is the most enigmatic and mercurial of the artists on the roster. Being from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he has made a life of delving deep into his country's magical musical framework that draws into itself and expands upon the many cultures that have intersected with it from Africa, Europe, and the United States. The music contained here finds Gismonti, ever the shamanistic gadfly conjurer, singing and playing no less than eight instruments, from percussion to guitars to flutes. The settings range from the stunning solo guitar of "Cavaquinho," where classical and Indian notions dovetail one another, to more conventional quartets such as the one found on “Ensaio de Escola de Samba” with another guitar, cello, and double bass, or the string players on “10 Anos,” which features his piano playing in a jazz quartet with saxophone. And then there is “Frevo,” a work that reflects not only Gismonti's knowledge and frenetic approach to counterpoint as it manifests itself in Brazilian and European classical music, but the frenzy of Carnaval as it engages his pianism to a symphony orchestra.

These selections are sequenced nearly perfectly and offer a radiant and ambitious portrait of one of the most revered and misunderstood musicians ECM has ever recorded.

— Thom Jurek

  • Egberto Gismonti guitars, piano, flutes, wood flutes, kalimba, surdo, voice, cooking bells
  • Nando Carneiro guitar
  • Zeca Assumpcao doubel-bass
  • Jacques Morelenbaum cello
  • Nana Vasconcelos percussion, berimbau
  • Mauro Senise alto saxophone
  • Nene drums
  • Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra
  • Gintaras Rinkevicius conductor