This a strange and beautiful compilation of music recorded in the early to mid-'50s by two veritable giants of the Brazilian classical guitar who stretched out into jazz, bossa nova and pop. Of the first, American audiences will be most aware of Laurindo Almeida as the guitarist wit the L.A. 4 who also recorded with the Modern Jazz Quartet. His classical recordings have been out of print on these shores for well over a decade. Here, however, he delves deeply into that tradition by performing the music of the giant of all Brazilian composers, Heitor Villa-Lobos. He plays gorgeously rendered takes of two of the composer's "Etudes" and a pair of his "Preludes" as well, all of which were written in the 1920s for Andrés Segovia. The latter pieces he performs, which are at the end of this mammoth, 27-cut compilation are his own classical pieces and his most memorable work, "Saudade." Many Americans are not yet familiar with the work of the terminally restless guitar giant Luiz Bonfá, who worked far more in the bossa and jazz fields than he did in classical music, though his training in that tradition was strict and formal Here Bonfá performs a series of jazz and bossa tunes with Antonio Carlos Jobim himself on the piano, in an ensemble that also includes the late genius João Donato on accordion, tenor saxophonist Quinidio Teixeira, and Altamira Carrilho on flute with a rhythm section. Bonfá performs his own "Uma Prece," and "Chora Chorao" in addition to a pair of other tunes, as well as Alberto Dominguez's "Perfidia," Donato's achingly beautiful "Minha Saudade," and a co-write with Jobim on "O Barbinha Branca." Besides this band, Bonfá is also in the company of organist Jorge Henrique, bassist Eduardo Lincoln and drummer João Stockler as well as one other ensemble with Stockler, and additional guitarist Carlos Lyra among others. While the music here is very diverse and the recording quality is far from top-notch, it is nonetheless utterly invaluable as an artifact and so completely thrilling and moving any fan of Brazilian music and the roots of bossa and Brazilian jazz will be unable to resist its appeal and true value.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek