Being a musician, my talent for sports is, at best, tolerable. But I enjoy Olympic sports and was a keen spectator of the Rio de Janeiro Pan American Games in 2007. Confrontation, in sport, happens on a ground of respect and confraternization. Athletes are a bit of an artist inasmuch they set out to overcome limits, in spite of mundane considerations. It is a personal quest speaking for a collectivity. The Games filled our streets with people from neighbouring cultures with whom we rarely interact. It was one of those rare moments when countries usually absent from our daily worries had a moment of protagonism. At last people on the streets talked about Trinidad and Tobago or El Salvador.
I wondered why the same didn’t happen with music. Our culture of classical music naturally turns the gaze back to Europe; various forms of pop music in English are part of our day- to-day, while little is known about the music of the Americas. Classical guitar adopts some music of the Americas as mainstream repertoire, but local forms of expression are still a closed book.
Coincidentally, in the following years luck brought me to play a lot around the Americas. Each tour brings a precious baggage of new friends, music previously unknown, academic and popular art, and fondness that can only be cultivated with those with whom we have shared a way of life. This repertoire started to take shape through this fondness. Each piece has a reason to be on this CD, a mini-story behind it, even those coming from places I have not visited yet.
Some of them mark a history of musical and personal affinity, such as the compositions by my friends Marco Pereira and Paulo Bellinati, as well as the inspired arrangements by Victor Villadangos, Carlos Pérez, Eduardo Fernández (who also introduced me to the music of Gentil Montaña), Piraí Vaca and Carlos Barrientos. There is music by the great names of nationalist symphonic music, like Manuel Ponce, Eduardo Fabini and Eduardo Caba; I am particularly grateful to the Bolivian guitarist Piraí Vaca for introducing me to the music of Caba, grown in the Andes, which might surprise anyone not familiar with 20th Century Bolivian music.
There is another kind of giant, the composers-guitarists who carve out a national identity in their compositions, such as Antonio Lauro, Juan A. Rodríguez and Agustín Barrios (whose music has been part of my life since I first heard classical guitar). I’ve been fortunate to meet some of these monuments, such as the fabulous Argentine guitarist María Luísa Anido, Gentil Montaña – the Colombian heir of Barrios, the Salvadoran Carlos Payés and the Panamanian Francisco Velásquez (whose music I already knew, thanks to a Panamanian guitarist who lives in Salvador in Bahia). I wasn’t able to personally meet Carlos Bonilla in Ecuador, but a student handed me a handwritten copy of his piece as if carrying a jewel – duly included here.
Some of these works are so evocative they bring to the memory flavours, fragrances and sensations of space when I play them. This is the case of Fabini’s piece, of Gardel’s tango-song, which was very popular in Brazil in the 1970s, and Perla Marina, by the troubadour Sindo Garay, which vividly reminds me of my first visit to Cuba in 1990.
By force of the circumstances, I’ve never played professionally in Argentina, Venezuela and Haiti, countries of enormous musical diversity. These are tributes. Juan Rodríguez’s piece appears in the LP Abismo de Rosas, by Dilermando Reis; the number of people who have started playing the guitar when listening to Dilermando is incalculable – my father was one of them.
I first heard the Balada by Ariel Ramírez, soundtrack of the movie Martín Fierro, in an informal recording of the Argentine teacher Monina Távora; here is the homage to a unique way of playing one cannot reproduce today. This could also be said in honour of virtuoso Alírio Diaz, who died in 2016, a gentleman who was the engine of Venezuelan guitar in the last century.
I knew nothing of Haiti’s music until 2010, when that country was on the news due to a devastating earthquake; in the following years many Haitian refugees came to live in Brazil. In honour of the immigrants, who constitute one of the forces of Brazilian society, I have included a composition by the singular Haitian guitarist Frantz Casséus.
Another kind of homage appears through the song of Frederic Hand, the most recent addition to this repertoire. A negative side effect of many musical collections and exhibitions of Latin American art is the exclusion of the United States and Canada. It is to be expected, in the cultural reality of the 21st century, that these countries should gradually get “latinized”, while the whole world takes advantage of its booming culture of cinema, art and music. Lesley’s Song is for those whose love life has grooved to the universal soundtrack of American pop, folk and jazz.
It would be impossible to comprehend such a variety of styles and accents, and I dare not attempt to reproduce them. I’ve noticed with surprise this is my first recording of the works of a female composer, as well as authors of African or native Indian origin. I will be very happy if these composers can recognize themselves, some way or another, in the affection I have devoted to their music.
Created by – GuitarCoop Recorded at – Sala Boa Vista, São Paulo, Brazil Dates – April and May 2018 Sound Engineering – Ricardo Marui Produced – Henrique Caldas Digital Editing – Henrique Caldas Mixing – Ricardo Marui Mastering – Homero Lotito – Reference Mastering Studio Booklet notes – Fabio Zanon Graphic Desing – Eduardo Sardinha Photos – Eduardo Sardinha Publishing – Patricia Millan Guitar – Hermann Hauser II 1971 Strings – Augustine Microphones – Royer SF-24, DPA 2006 Recording System – Metric Halo LIO-8 Preamplifier – Millenia HV-3D Cables – Van den Hull D-102
Special thanks Marcelo Kayath, Ricardo Dias, Sérgio Abreu.To all people who have generously presented me with printed music: Carlos Barrientos, Paulo Bellinati, Eduardo Fernández, Frederic Hand, Rene Izquierdo, Ivan Paschoito, Marco Pereira, Carlos Pérez, Marcos Puña, Piraí Vaca.