Hamilton de Holanda

Samba Do Aviao

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To be a jazz mandolinist is to be part of a fairly select fraternity of players. And to be a jazz mandolinist who has been voted "Best Instrumentalist in Brazil" is probably to belong to a minority of one. Hamilton de Holanda holds both distinctions, though the word "jazz" is maybe a bit too narrow to describe his music. His specialty is choro, a homegrown Brazilian musical style that combines elements of jazz, tango, and various African rhythms, but on Samba Do Aviao he also demonstrates his facility with film music (a very nice arrangement of Ennio Morricone's theme from Cinema Paradiso) and samba (an equally attractive take on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Samba do Avião"). His original compositions show an impressive stylistic range, from the contemplative "Dor Menor" to the jaunty "Na Hora do Recreio," and the sad and pretty "Ultimo Suspiro," with its Italianate tremolo passages. On eight of the album's 11 tracks, de Holanda plays all alone, with occasional multi-tracked passages filling in the sonic spaces from time to time, but on the final three numbers he is joined by accordionist Richard Galliano. Galliano seems to energize de Holanda on the disciplined but perky "Chorinho pra Ele," but things slow down again from there. There are a few moments when his playing sounds a bit haphazard, as if he were improvising rather than playing a composition (which, on some tracks, may well be the case). But overall, this is a very impressive solo effort from a major talent.

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