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Continuous Friendship by Hamilton de Holanda & André Mehmari

Introspection. It’s something that youthful Brazilian mandolin master Hamilton de Holanda indulges in more and more these days, as witnessed by his 2007 solo release Intimo. On his newest album, Continuous Friendship, he and pianist compatriot André Mehmari share many quiet moments on this stellar duet album, another quality release from Adventure Music.

The CD opens with a wistful, rather classical rendition of Pixinguinha’s wonderful "Rose," and it sets the tone for most of the remainder of the repertoire. Cartola’s "It Happens" is another extravagant piece that fits the same bill. The two never allow any playing to reach the level of bathos or self-indulgence. Simply put, it’s two masters having a conversation, with two empty, red-rimmed wine glasses at their sides.

The two are incredibly in sync on the melodious runs on the title-cut choro and on "Underage." As in many pieces on this CD, they mix their introspective moments with bursts of impromptu exhilaration.

We know what de Holanda can do, but Mehmari repeatedly shows dynamism on his instrument from brusque Beethovenesque rants, to Gonzalo Rubalcaba-like understatement (See Charlie Haden’s Nocturne). He can even match Keith Jarrett’s 3 a.m. subtle ruminations on The Melody at Night, With You.

To close out the album, fans of "Ham" will notice that he reaches into his own grab bag, pulling out two tunes he’s previously recorded: Gismonti’s "Streetwise Baião" or "Baião Malandro" (Hamilton de Holdanda) and Morricone’s "Love Theme - Cinema Paradiso" (Samba do Avião). Although "Paradiso" has been reimangined by too many jazz artists as of late, the duo’s minimalism here works to perfection.

While de Holanda’s other duet work with accordionist Richard Galliano on Samba do Avião and with fellow mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall on New Words is exceptional, I don’t think he reaches the same depth of emotion found here on this album. After all, what else can produce those results besides two virtuosi coming together to solidify a most welcome, continuous friendship?

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Hamilton de Holanda & André Mehmari
  • CD Title: Continuous Friendship
  • Genre: Brazilian Jazz / Brazilian Pop Jazz
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Adventure Music
  • Tracks: Rose, News, The Continuous Friendship Choro, It Happens, Underage, Black Choro, The Dream, With Serjão, Live Between Waltz, Streetwise Baião, Love Theme - Cinema Paradiso, Bonus Tracks: 1st takes of Black Choro, News and The Continuous Friendship Choro
  • Musicians: Hamilton de Holanda (10-string mandolin), André Mehmari (piano)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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