The newest release by this Brazilian master of the 10-string, mandolin-like bandolim is subtitled The Music of Milton Nascimento, which, de Holanda states in his liner notes, “was both the starting point and the finish line” for the project. He means that literally and figuratively: Singer-songwriter-guitarist Nascimento, still a bona fide Brazilian superstar at 75, makes guest appearances on the first and final track of this CD/DVD set, and, not surprisingly, they are among the standouts. The video, which documents the making of the album in the studio, should be spun first, in order to get a fuller appreciation for the abundance of sheer talent and devotion at work here.
De Holanda’s virtuosity and artistry are apparent throughout, and his quintet—Daniel Santiago (guitar), Gabriel Grossi (harmonica), Andre Vasconcellos (electric bass) and Marcio Bahia (drums)—is equally adept. The opening track, “Bicho Homem,” the first of two featuring the guest of honor, eases in, but it only takes a minute for the groove to captivate and then they’re off, with Nascimento’s wordless vocalizing serving as ornamentation for the rest of the action. “Guerra E Paz I,” the other cut featuring Nascimento, is an audio-only track, more wistful and quixotic yet no less mesmerizing. Not to worry though: In between are nine other songs, outstandingly performed interpretations all, the last of which, “Travessia,” features another vocalist, the 70-year-old Alcione. As an intro to Nascimento there are of course more direct options, but as a Hamilton de Holanda album in its own right, it’s among his finest.