Picks and Pans Review: Sanfona
Not strictly jazz, not strictly ethnic, Brazilian guitarist-pianist Gismonti's music is a remarkably light-footed and invigorating hybrid. Its roots lie in the fertile loam of the folk dances, chants and rhythms of his native land. But there is also the intelligence and probing spirit of avant-garde jazz—a turf familiar to Gismonti, who has worked with saxman Jan Garbarek and bassist Charlie Haden. He recorded this double disc in Norway for Manfred Eicher's esoteric ECM label. With his perfectionist recording standards and his dedication to acoustic instruments, Eicher has sometimes been criticized for putting out egghead "chamber jazz." But the clean, no-nonsense ECM sound is ideal for Gismonti's skills on eight-and 10-string acoustic guitar and for the flute and soprano sax work of Mauro Senise (of the backup band, Academia De Dancas). Ranging easily from the festive to the serene, Gismonti does one disc with his band and one disc solo. If you had previously thought Brazilian jazz consisted of just Desafinado and The Girl From Ipanema, Sanfona will prove a sparkling revelation.
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