André Mehmari is one of those musicians with a prodigious talent, who flashes across the stratosphere one in a lifetime. Not only is he a multi-instrumentalist of the very highest order, proficient in pianoforte and all manner of keyboards, guitars, violão, violin and viola but he is a composer of such great maturity that he appears to have a mind well beyond his years. And now this: on Canteiro he emerges as a vocalist with exquisite diction, nuanced expression and considerable narrative powers. All of this formidable flair is on display across two CDs, which he shares with his presumed muses, including the chief ones: Monica Salmaso and Sergio Santos. Both singers are great interpreters of modern song. Salmaso’s soaring contralto is hauntingly beautiful on two tracks that stand out rare beauty—“Apenas o Mar” and on CD2, the skittering “Modular Paixões”. Santos’s brooding tenor caresses the Afro-centric rhythms with rare lyricism. This is what makes tracks such as “Baião de Reza,” “Desalvorada” and “Última Valsa” stick in the mind’s ear long after the last notes have died.
However, it is the newly discovered sublimity of Mehmari’s extraordinary vocal skills that mark this 2-CD set as one of the finest to come out of Brasil in 2012. Mehmari offers rare insights into the poetics of the songs he has composed, co-written with a stellar cast and for which he offers his delicate interpretations. As a result of “A Beira da Cançaõ” is a breathtaking revelation of the creative mind of the composer in Mehmari. In the song, “Pra Amada Imortal” Mehmari reveals a tremendous feel for heartache and ecstatic joy via the classics. His delivery of the lyrics is stupendous as he delves into the mysteries of love and immortality. Here he also reveals a wonderful sense of the mystique of delicate feelings and moods, and, as a composer, he brings these to life with extraordinary power and depth of thought. This translates into melodies of great poetic beauty. Add this to the interpretation of the songs by some formidable talents such as Salmaso, Santos, Carlos Aguerre, Luciana Alves, Tiago Pinheiro and others and this makes for an exalted set of songs on CD 1; a seemingly endless stream of gorgeous music interpreted by a stellar cast. The crowning moments come at the proverbial end of the set, with “Brilha o Carnaval” a spectacularly orchestrated passacaglia that is an apt crescendo for this CD.
CD2 starts with a majestic interpretation of another fine song by the glorious Na Ozetti, another one of Mehmari’s muses. And it is all upward from then on. Here, however, Mehmari showcases more of his instrumental skills. That he is one of Brasil’s finest pianists receives more affirmation here. But there is also his work on other instruments. What is truly revealing is his heartbreaking musical sojourns on the accordion, flutes and also a remarkable dexterity and virtuosity for the synthesizer. What is remarkable here is not just his understanding of a mysterious instrument, but also his ability to use it to create sounds that embellish those made by more conventional instruments such as the piano, guitar, accordion and other instruments. Finally there is the fact that Mehmari has provided a wealth of music to listen to and enjoy, something that is all too rare these days. This album adds a goldmine to the young musician’s library of music. All this bodes extremely well for the future of the ingenious musician who is André Mehmari.
Tracks: CD1: A Beira da Cançaõ; Apenas o Mar; Baiao de Reza; Cântico dos Quânticos; Clara; Cruce; Meia Lágrima; Desalvorada; Guardar; Amor de Terra; Insista; Pra Amada Imortal; Ida e Volta; Ninguém Compreende; Velha Inqueitude; Brilha o Carnaval; CD2: Festa dos Pássaros; Viagem dos Verao; Valsa Russa; Sal, Saudade; Tentar Dormir; Última Valsa; Florbela; Luzidia; Canteiro; A Beira da Cançaõ; Modular Paixões; Insisto (verso instrumental); Vento Bom; Brilha o Carnaval Playback.
Personnel: CD1: André Mehmari: voice (1, 4, 6, 12 – 15), piano, Fender Rhodes (3, 14, 16); accordion (1, 2, 8 – 10, 13, 15, 16), synths (6, 15); samples (4, 9, 14); guitar (1, 9), violão (6), violin (5, 6), viola (5, 12), electric bass (3), charanga (6); programming for drums and electric bass (14); flutes (3, 4, 12), caxia (16), arrangements (16); Neymar Dias: contrabass (1, 2, 6 – 13, 15), viola caipira (13); Sergio Reze: drums (1 – 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15), melodic gongs (3); Monica Salmaso: voice (2); Sérgio Santos: voice (3, 8), violão (3, 8); Teco Cardoso: flute, bass flute, baritone saxophone (3); Silvio Mansani: voice (5)Eser Menezes: oboe (5); Carlos Aguerre: voice (5); Antonio Zambujo: voice (7); Hamilton de Holanda: bandolim, violão (7); Ricardo Cruz: Portuguese contrabass (7); Mateus Sartori: voice (9); Claudio Nucci: voice (10); Luciana Alves: voice (11); Chico Pinheiro: guitar (11); Tiago Pinheiro: voice (13, 16); Simone Guimaraes: voice (14); Orquestra à Base de Sopro de Curitiba: Sérgio Albach: Artistic Director, Conductor (16) ; Gabriel Schwartz: Assistant Director(16) ; Sebastião Interlandi: transversal flute, piccolo (16); Claiton Rodrigues: transversal flute(16); Sérgio Albach: clarone (16); Jason Vieira: clarinet (16); Octavio Augusto: clarinet (16); Gabriel Schwartz: alto, tenor and sopranino saxophones (16); Victor Gabriel Castro: alto saxophone, clarinet (16); Sérgio Freire: tenor saxophone (16); Ozeias Veiga Costa: trumpet (16); Douglas Chiullo Silva: trumpet (16); Alexandre Santos: trombone (16); Osmario Estevam Jr.: trombone (16); Màrio Conde: guitar (16); Marcelo Pereira: bass (16); Lè Dos Santos: percussion (16); CD2: Andre Mehmari: voice: (1), piano (1, 3, 6 – 13), flutes (1, 3, 7); charanga (1, 7), celeste (3), violin (3), viola (2, 3), violão (9), samples (3, 5), accordion (9, 10), daf (10); Na Ozetti: voice (1); Ivan Vilela: viola caipira (1); Neymar Dias: contrabass (1, 2, 5, 8, 9, 12); Uirapuru: uirapuru (1); Jussara Silveira: voice (2); Leandro Maia: voice (3, 8), violão (4, 8); Luiz Tatit: voice (5); Sergio Santos: voice (6); Luca Raele: clarinet (6); Silvano Mansani: voice (7); Monica Salmaso: voice (11); Luciana Alves: voice (13); Chico Pinheiro: guitar (12, 13) Orquestra à Base de Sopro de Curitiba: (14).
André Mehmari – Official website: www.andremehmari.com.br
Label: Tratore Records
Release date: January 2012
Reviewed by: Raul da Gama