Mike Marshall is an eclectic musician, proficient in bluegrass, Newgrass, Dawg music (David Grisman’s own mix of bluegrass, jazz and folk music), classical, jazz, and even Brazilian choro music (a Latin and jazz-infused type of traditional Brazilian music). It’s that last category that provides the connection to the music of Hermeto Pascoal. While he is not considered a choro musician, Pascoal is a fiercely prolific Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist. He has composed more than 2500 pieces of contemporary and frequently challenging music. Pascoal is an accomplished flutist, guitarist, pianist, and trumpet player, among other instruments, but also is just as likely to include pots and pans, garden implements, and household appliances in his complex compositions.
In this recording, Marshall is partnered with pianist Jovino Santos Neto, a fifteen-year veteran of Pascoal’s musical group and the only curator and promoter of Pascoal’s music. Neto is also currently teaching at Seattle, Washington’s renowned Cornish College of the Arts, after having left Brazil in 1993. Neto’s piano performance is sensitive and stately, while able to interject just the right amount of energy and passion. He also doubles on the flute and harmonium. Neto is extremely competent on everything on all his instruments. Marshall is a multi-instrumentalist himself, playing mandolin, guitars, and bouzouki on the recording. As always, he delivers a virtuoso performance that is filled with nuance and subtlety. His tone is delicious and warm, capable of ringing highs and stirring low notes. Marshall’s technique is impeccable and irresistible.
The music tends to be slower in tempo than might be expected and emphasizes chord progressions and, surprise: melody— often overlooked and underestimated in serious contemporary music. Even the up-tempo numbers, have a deliberateness about them that never feels rushed or out of control. Of course, with these two virtuoso musicians, this level of control and musicality is expected and appreciated. Overall, there is a dreamlike and contemplative quality to the music. This isn’t background music; it should be listened to and experienced. The music and the performances deserve our undivided attention. Highly recommended.
Tracks: 1) Sertao Alagoano, 2) Quanto Mais Longe, Mais Perto, 3) Serenata, 4) July 17, 5) Saudades Do Brasil, 6) Hino Da Princesa Eterna, 7) Os Guizos, 8) Tertulia, 9) Joyce, 10) Roseando, 11) Sept. 1, 12) Floresta, 13) Santa Catarina
– Hermon Joyner