World of Pixinguinha

Music Review

8 Jun 2015
Hamilton de Holanda
World of Pixinguinha
Adventure Records
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Hamilton de Holanda has written a 52 minute love poem. The pen he used was his mandolin, the object of his admiration is Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr., better known as Pixinguinha.  A composer, arranger, flautist and saxophonist born in Rio de Janeiro before the turn of the 19th Century Pixinguinha lived in Rio de Janeiro until he died in 1973.

On World of Pixinguinha de Holanda collaborates with some very well known musicians and some completely unknown ones, the album is made of mostly duets played by de Holanda and his musical guests.12 tracks feature what is described on the sleeve as a musical bridge between jazz and choro (pronounced SHOH-roh, and  best described as the New Orleans jazz of Brazil). For most the music will sound like romanticized gypsy jazz a la Django Reinhart. The tone is always happy and soulful, the tunes and rhythms have a distinctive Brazilian/South American flavour that is not often played outside of Brazil.

To rock/blues/pop ears the tunes may sound initially as if the strings of the mandolin have been laced with honey, there is a ‘schmaltzy’ feel to some of the tracks, but a second listen reveals a joie de vivre that is at times intoxicating. Those who are familiar with the ‘countryfied’ sound of David Grisman's mandolin will find nothing in common here, the sound of de Holanda is more akin to that of a guitar than a mandolin. De Holanda's skills are augmented by a list of 12 very able musicians, among them Wynton Marsalis, Omar Sosa, Chuco Valdes and Richard Galliano.

The recording is very measured and smooth, sometimes at the expense of transparency. This is a a gentle album that would be a perfect soundtrack to a lazy summer afternoon. A musical journey to a yesteryear from another time and place, on a different continent, filledd with emotion and overflowing with nostalgia. World of Pixinguinha is an enjoyable journey and a very fitting tribute.

Reuben Klein