Saturday, December 27, 2008

Roberto Menescal: Amanhecendo and A Morte de um Deus de Sal

This one I had on a compilation; I liked it, so I bought a whole disc of Menescal. Great stuff.

Take, for example, "Amanhecendo," from 1964. The Conjunto here is Menescal on tasteful electric guitar, a drummer, a pianist, a flutist, a bassist, and a vibraphonist. It's a mid-tempo number, a pleasant melody that alternates between guitar/vibe and flute/piano duet lines; this seems to be something Menescal likes, with each pair of instruments blending so perfectly to create a new and distinct sound. Then we get a piano solo: brief but energetic, really stirs things up. Then a mellow guitar solo takes us into the fade-out, with jazzy piano chords hanging in the background. It's the piano that really makes this record, whether it's comping interestingly behind the guitar/vibe lines or doubling the flute, and that solo.

Or, for another example, "A Morte de um Deus de Sal," also from 1964, also with the Conjunto. Different album, I think, so it may be a different lineup. Same instrumentation, though, except Menescal's on acoustic guitar this time. A very different song, this. A slow, foreboding, almost bluesy (in a jazz sense) bass line starts it off, doubled immediately by the piano, and then the percussionist comes in, with a skittering, tense little rhythm; can't tell if it's a really schizoid 4/4 or a swinging little 6/8 for a while. Again we have the instrumental overlay, this time it's flute, vibraphones, and piano; it's a really cool effect, combining the sustain of the flute with the attack of the vibes and piano. Again the thing climaxes with a jazz-inflected energetic solo, but this time it's the vibes that go crazy. Then we get a flute/piano doubled solo to ease us down.

(Unfortunately the solos don't show up in the samples on the riverine webmerchant's site, so you'll have to take my word for all this...)

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