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Brazzil - Music - March 2004
 

Marco Pereira: A Musical Volcano from Brazil

The richness of Marco Pereira's full tone is never better demonstrated
than on "Estrela da Manhã" (Morning Star), an evocative moodscape
replete with shadowy intrigues of film-noir intensity. A perfection
of structure and a severe, yet restrained beauty of style characterize
this light 12/8 shuffle that wistfully depicts dawn on Brazil's Central Plateau.

Bruce Gilman


Possessing that rare quality that has made him an indispensable presence both on stage and at recording sessions for artists like Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, and Djavan, composer, producer, arranger, university professor, and guitar virtuoso Marco Pereira combines the strength of his musical ideas and the warmth he breathes into them with a superb technique to create dazzling and inspired music.

Assaulting both the conventional and the orthodox, his latest solo project, Original, on Guitar Solo Publications (GSP) covers a considerable stylistic and emotional range with imagination and elegance, making it eminently approachable.

Opening the program is "Tio Boros," a spiky and unpredictable samba dedicated to gifted Brazilian bass player Bororó that overwhelms the listener with an unstoppable rush of ideas. Underpinned with a partido alto bass line and affixed by means of the percussive "slap" to a characteristically arpeggiated Northeastern baião, it is the ideal vehicle to show how a cunning fusion can take two forms into fertile new territory while retaining the sprit of the originals.

"Bate-coxa" (Strike Legs), is an evocative and engaging forró that mixes distinctive Northeastern rhythms (baião, coco, and xaxado) with arpeggio motifs and bass patterns that require exacting right hand finger independence. Pereira, however, is uniformly hot and precise. Demonstrating sensational form, his voicings, colors, inversions, and arsenal of rhythmic displacements are masterful.

Discreetly coloristic, "Flor das Águas," is a lyrically beautiful waltz with an irresistible wealth of melodic details emerging through Pereira's formidable technical command and displayed not by flash, but warmth and sincerity. Offering moments of tremendous passion and revelation via impressionistic economy, "Nostálgicas, No. 2" comes from a series of five solo guitar pieces in the character of the Brazilian serenade (seresta) and was inspired by Eric Satie's Gymnopedies.

Pereira derives the tension here as much from his plangent sound as his dramatic use of space. But the richness of his full tone is never better demonstrated than on "Estrela da Manhã" (Morning Star), an evocative moodscape replete with shadowy intrigues of film-noir intensity. A perfection of structure and a severe, yet restrained beauty of style characterize this light 12/8 shuffle that wistfully depicts dawn on Brazil's Central Plateau.

Lending an intimate spotlight, "O Choro de Juliana," comes across like an old friend in unfamiliar company, revealing just how Pereira can thematically move the warmth and feeling of a choro written for his young daughter closer to the bossa nova feel. When the tempo flies, as it does in "Sarará," a choro in almost bebop style, Pereira's phrasing, attack, and compositional depth are so thoroughly imbued with individuality that the tune alternately floats then soars, shimmering like a desert mirage, lifted and kept airborne by fiery and immaculate playing.

His aptitude for contrapuntal playing is emphasized on "Tempo de Futebol," a tune executed with brilliantly crisp articulation that pays tribute to a universal theme in Brazilian music, soccer. Keeping his thematic logic in perfect focus and the listener spellbound, Pereira's concept communicates immediately. And with the bass line in rhythmic counterpoint during the chorus, the effect is little less than sensational.

The entire disc has energy, enthusiasm, and an air of poetic coherence. Unusual timbral palettes and forms set out a radical program that can be enjoyed as mood music or as something much more substantial. This inspired and no-nonsense disc works well either way, and Pereira's playing throughout is exemplary, bristling.

An unending volcano of feeling that is always just barely compressed, Marco Pereira, who continues to challenge tradition while remaining loyal to its essence, has carved out a niche for himself as a daring and imaginative musician whose playing is tough, sinewy, and intelligent, whose every work is of value. A clear-cut personality of undoubted abilities, Pereira is in the finest sense of the word, an original.

Artist: Marco Pereira
Title: Original
Label: GSP (AJO152)
Date: 2003


Bruce Gilman, music editor for Brazzil magazine, received his Masters degree in music from California Institute of the Arts. He is the recipient of three government grants that have allowed him to research traditional music in China, India, and Brazil. His articles on Brazilian music have been translated and published in Dutch, German, Portuguese, Serbian, and Spanish. You can reach him through his e-mail: cuica@interworld.net


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