The extraordinary work of creating chromatic fantasies, as Gustavo Assis-Brasil has conceived on the guitar – essentially an instrument on which pitch can be varied – is no mean task. Jaco Pastorius did that on a fretless bass guitar with a piece of the same name. Gustavo Assis-Brasil’s work is different. Expect the unexpected whenever he plays his guitars but this programme is outside of the norm, and Assis-Brasil has, in fact, succeeded in creating a wholly new playbook for the student of the instrument. There are four short pieces written in this mode and they are exquisite examples of the guitarist’s remarkable artistry.
Gustavo Assis-Brasil is clearly a master of his instrument, a virtuoso whose dazzling disc Chromatic Dialogues offers the best of the worlds of chromaticism and counterpoint – music with an airy nimbleness matched to a richness of sound which sometimes impossible from five musicians. That’s partly due to the dynamic range and balance – never too close – in all of the ‘Chromatic’ pieces, played with great facility. Passion and precision are one. The apogee is ‘Dialogue 4’. Melodic lines are beautiful moulded, the return of the opening chords hushed, the climax gorgeous and the dénouement subtly atmospheric. I like also ‘Olivia’ a waltz that lilts with delicate ritenutos. ‘SM’ fairly bounces its way to the end of the tune.
So does the opening movement of ‘Pro Sapo’, a magnificent composition from Gustavo Assis-Brasil. Chords this time have little of the careful vibrato which kicked off ‘Gee’ and the full-blooded melisma at the end contrasts perfectly with a perfect songful solo taken not only be Assis-Brasil but also by in the ensemble playing of the well-oiled machinery of this band. That Gustavo Assis-Brasil is a formidable musician needs no further proof here. The music of Chromatic Dialogues practically fizzes with visceral energy.
Track List: Gee; Always Here (Prenda Minha); CC; Dialogue 1; Olivia’ SM; Study #5; Dialogue 2; Pro Sapo; Dialogue 4 (About Allan); Dialogue 3 (Ola Rob).
Personnel: Gustavo Assis-Brasil: guitars; Tony Grey: bass; Vardan Ovsepian: piano and synthesizer; José Pienasola: acoustic bass; Mauricio Zottarelli: drums.
Running time: 35:14