Chico Mello

Violao de Dois

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Brazilian guitarists Chico Mello and Silvia Ocougne (once of 13th Tribe) met once they were both settled in Berlin (Germany). Their repertoire, made of original compositions and warped cover tunes, allies the sensuality of South American music with the wittiness of artists who, after living in Europe for 13 years, can look at Brazilian pop culture with the eyes of outsiders. Violao de Dois presents a complete performance the duo gave at a concert organized by the label Oaksmus. They both play acoustic guitar and euphonium and sing. The mood is highly relaxed, as exemplified by the introductions (spoken in German). The music encompasses everything between straightforward South American guitar pieces (Pixinguinha's "1x0," Barbosa's "Trem das Onze") up to difficult pieces that set Mello and Ocougne against one another. In "John Cage na Praia No. 5," they interrupt each other constantly with their seemingly unrelated songs. The sweet-and-sour euphonium duo "Dentro do Tubo No. 3" recalls Frank Pahl's "Ode to Euphonium" pieces. They split vocal duties in a rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim's inevitable "Girl From Ipanema" by singing/playing one syllable/chord at a time. And their take on Strayhorn's "Take the 'A' Train" is utterly strange -- it could be Pere Ubu on acoustic guitars. This set is thoroughly enjoyable and presents an unusual musical vision that blends avant-garde composition, folk music, and humor -- the Brazilian version of Quebec's Les Granules. Recommended.

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