Pianist, arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist André Mehmari is one of those artists who has solidified his name in the Brazilian music scene at a very early age. Born in Niterói (Rio de Janeiro, 1977), he showed interest in music as a child while listening to his mother playing the piano in their home living room. At that age, he started his music education, and already at 11 years old, he joined several trios and quartets. His education grew by leaps and bounds while at the same he was taking part in several music festivals. In 1994, he was presented with the rare opportunity to meet legendary maestro Moacir Santos, with whom he took classes in arranging. At the national level, he obtained recognition when he won the Prêmio VISA de MPB Instrumental in 1998. Fans and critics alike were unanimous in praising his artistry. As a result of winning that prize, he recorded his first album. He has recorded and arranged for some of the most important orchestras and groups in Brazil, including OSESP (the São Paulo Symphonic Orchestra) and Quintet Villa-Lobos. In the international scene, he has appeared at Heineken festivals, Spoleto USA, Blue Note in Tokyo and several other venues. He has released over a dozen solo albums and performed with some of the best musicians and singers in Brazil, including Chico Pinheiro, Sérgio Santos, Toninho Ferragutti, Nailor Proveta, Tutty Moreno, Hamilton de Holanda, Gabriele Mirabassi, Ná Ozzetti and Mônica Salmaso, just to name a few.
After recording albums with various orchestras and soloists, it was with high anticipation that I waited to hear André Mehmari back in a trio formation. His 2011 Afetuoso (with Sérgio Reze and Zé Alexandre Carvalho) was an amazing precursor to the superb 2012 Triz (with Chico Pinheiro and Sérgio Santos). Now, playing along Neymar Dias (bass and viola caipira) and Sérgio Reze (drums), André Mehmari (piano, synthesizer, accordion, mandolin, flute, guitar, viola, voice) performs a number of original compositions along with a classic by Ernesto Nazareth as well as other music by Pat Metheny and Noel Rosa. A versatile musician, André Mehmari is comfortable in every genre he performs. Take a look, for example, what he does in “Lagoa da Conceição,” the album opener.
In the video above, you can see how much at ease this trio feels with this material. They perform two takes of this track on the video. The smooth introduction on piano gently builds up the vibrancy in this piece as images of flying freely overwhelm your senses. I especially enjoy how much Mehmari’s music adds a different visual perspective to the auditory experience. Take the album’s title track, the four-part “As Estações na Cantareira.” There are classical and jazz elements in this composition along with a subtle citations of Tom Jobim‘s “Chovendo na Roseira.” Beautiful touch! The sweeping atmosphere in “Outono” gets replaced by a darker “Inverno,” only to be followed by a melodic growth in “Primavera” with blazing closure coming in “Verão,” augmented by its northeastern up-tempo and flavor.
Mehmari is a master composer, arranger and performer. Whether with forró, frevo, choro or jazz, his music shines brilliantly. As Estações na Cantareira is a triumphant return to a trio format. It will leave you breathless and joyful!
André Mehmari, Neymar Dias, Sérgio Reze
As Estações na Cantareira
Estúdio Monteverdi 5.071.227 (2015)
Tracks (all music by André Mehmari, except where noted):
- Lagoa da Conceição
- As Estações na Cantareira (2-5): Outono
- Carta a um Jovem Poeta
- Um Retrato
- Frevo Forte-Piano
- Ouro Sobre Azul (Ernesto Nazareth)
- Au Lait / Último Desejo (Pat Metheny – Lyle Mays) / (Noel Rosa)
- Dominguinhos Encontra Gonzaga