The most recent examples of Mr Mehmari’s outstanding musical offerings take the form of a trio meditation on the seminal music of Milton Nascimento and his group that haunted the Clube da Esquina in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais from where Milton Nascimento made his great contributions to Brasilian music and a duo meditation with Danilo Brito (reviewed separately here) on what it is to really be Brasil as seen through the eyes of composers such as Ernesto Nazareth, Anaceto de Maderios, Garoto, Pixinguinha among others including (Mr Mehmari) himself.
André Mehmari: Na Esquina do Clube com o Sol Na Cabença Mr Mehmari has always acknowledged being a part of the continuum of Brasilian music weaving his way in and out of classical, traditional and popular styles. Along the way he has made music glorifying many of the great ancestral figures in Brasilian music – such as Ernesto Nazareth – as well as those who continue to be part of the artistic landscape in Brasil – such as Egberto Gismonti.
On this recording, we have a proverbial doffing of the hat to Música popular brasileira that reached its zenith with such composers and performers as Milton Nascimento – whose collaboration with the poet Fernando Brant made him (Milton Nascimento) a legend in his lifetime – as well as Lô Borges, Flávio Venturini and many others, whose collective came to be called Clube da Esquina (The Corner Club).
Many of the tracks in this repertoire were conceived and performed during those seminal stages of the collective and have since been lodged in the popular, urban music canon of Brasil. At the very outset Mr Mehmari’s interpretations differ from most of the others because of the (immediately) noticeable absence of the Brasilian violão (usually the 7-string guitar preferred by many Brasilian musicians who grew up steeped in traditional music). He does compensate by adding the accordion – here played by him with remarkable facility.
The repertoire features beautifully-crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness (how can they not be sensual; we’re talking of men like Mr Nascimento and Lô Borges here). We hear this in every lovingly-caressed phrase of the “Suite Clube da Esquina” – just over a quarter of an hour long, and in “Um Girassol da Cor de seu Cabelo” composed by Lô and Márcio Borges. Here as everywhere else Mr Mehmari’s love for this historic music shines brightly.
His chosen material, with one or two notable exceptions, judiciously focuses on some lesser known gems associated with members of Clube da Esquina. Listening to the way in which the musicians – principally Mr Mehmari with his extraordinary pianism – seductively bends the melodic phrases of “Cravo e Canela” (for instance) and how he sculpts the long, sustained inventions of “Nascente” it’s clear that there’s not a single semiquaver that hasn’t been fastidiously considered.
The recording features a trio comprising bassist Neymar Dias and drummer Sérgio Reze – musicians who are completely attuned to Mr Mehmari’s vision and artistry. Whether evocative of Brasilian stories unfolding cold and lonely nights or long hot days each track takes us into a memorable place with trusted and inspiring Brasilian musical friends.
Track list – 1: Tudo que você podia Ser/Trem Azul; 2: Suíte Clube Esquina – Part I: Clube da Esquina 1 ; Part II: Clube Esquina 2/Cais/Cravo e Canela; 3: Um Girassol de Cor de seu Cabelo; 4: Canoa Canoa; 5: E Daĺ? 6: Nascente; 7: Me Deixe em Paz; 8: Olho D’Água; 9: Lua Girou; 10: Paixão e Fé
Personnel – André Mehmari: acoustic and electric pianos, synthesizers, organ, accordion and horns; Neymar Dias: contrabass and electric bass guitar; Sérgio Reze: drums and melodic gongs
Released – 2019
Label – Estudio Monteverdi
Runtime – 1:3:39