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December 2001

Charlie Haden/Egberto Gismonti
In Montreal
ECM Records

Recorded in 1989, In Montreal is a historic musical summit featuring the remarkable Brazilian guitarist/pianist/composer Egberto Gismonti and the venerable bass veteran Charlie Haden. Most of the material is Gismonti's, with Haden weighing in with two compositions. Regardless, the encounters find the pair resonating in sympathy with each other, both sonically and conceptually.

Frequently virtuosic, Gismonti's guitar music is a synthesis of quirky atmospheres and effects, improvisation and a vast array of Latin influences, witnessed by "Salvador," an extended excursion that builds in intensity and features Haden primarily in a foundational role that only adds to the overall energy. Changing directions and instruments, "Maracatu" finds Gismonti at the keyboard for a repetitive piece that effectively utilizes dynamic swells and fades, which provide a backdrop for an adventurous solo by Haden. With a vibe that is classically funereal in nature, Haden's "Silence" supports soaring bass and keyboard solos that rise from the somber foundation. Finally, while this concert focuses on Gismonti's keyboard work, his rollicking "Em Familia" should please guitar freaks with its relentless momentum, unpredictable contrasts and uncanny effects that make it seem like more than one player is involved.

To all that add the highest recording values, and what you get is a concert that is arguably worth waiting more than 12 years for.

Originally published in December 2001
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