It is not every day that I hear about a guitarist from the Brazilian southern state of Paraná. A graduate from the State University of Londrina (Paraná), André Siqueira presently teaches harmony and counterpoint, arrangement and guitar at that institution. Composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist (guitars, flutes, viola caipira, bass and the Portuguese guitar), André has a master’s degree in music by the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), where he studied Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi. He also obtained a doctorate degree in Social Sciences from the State University of São Paulo (UNESP, Marília campus), where he wrote about the music and social thinking in Glauber Rocha’ movies. Dividing his time between academia and music can be challenging, but André makes time for both. Besides teaching, he has authored a book on Giacinto Scelsi’s compositional procedures, often presents in conferences and workshops in Brazil and abroad and writes music. The acoustic guitar is his preferred instrument for composing, and that was the case for his latest album, entirely composed on acoustic guitar and then arranged for an ensemble. He has also played with other Brazilian artists, such as Gilberto Gil and Egberto Gismonti.
In 2001 he released Lithos, his first solo album. That was followed by a 2004 partnership with guitarist Camilo Carrara in Afternoon Improvisations – Contemporary Music for 2 Guitars. Now in 2016, his second solo CD was released, Catamarã. In the words of Egberto Gismonti, Catamarã is “singular.” The album music was written by André Siqueira, except for one track by Radamés Gnattali and another by Tom Jobim. All arrangements are also by André, and the ensemble formation varies from solos to trios, quartets and quintets. Except for some vocals in two tracks, this is a purely instrumental album. The musicians featured in Catamarã are André Siqueira (acoustic guitar, viola caipira, electric guitar), Bruno Pimenta (flute), Gabriel Zara (bass), Leonardo Pires (drums) Vito Duarte (English horn, oboe), Luca Bernar (piano), Titane (voice), Júlio Erthal (flute), Elizah Rodrigues (voice) and Tabajara Belo (acoustic guitar).
André’s guitar solo work opens the album with “Anagrama.” Flute and guitar play off each other’s lines in a fast arrangement with Spanish and Moorish musical tones. It is a beautiful overture for the music that will delight listeners throughout the album. Radamés Gnattali’s “Toccata em Ritmo de Samba I” brings lots of energy at the beginning in a trio formation with acoustic guitar, bass and drums. Then, the arrangement settles into a slow samba with impressive guitar solos. The other non-original piece, Jobim’s “Chovendo na Roseira,” is solo guitar only. This arrangement feels like raindrops at the end of a hot afternoon. Very soothing and beautiful! One thing you note about André Siqueira’s music is its powerful visuals and how he is capable of translating that into music. The title track, for example, evokes a true catamaran cutting through fast waters. The same goes with “Maracatu.” The traditional maracatu rhythm with Leonardo Pires’ drums makes room to a ciranda-like variation, where Bruno Pimenta’s flute and André Siqueira’s guitar once again exchange dynamic solos. The visual scenery created in the track goes beyond the Carnaval parades of real maracatu groups with the rich and lavish displays of an African kingdom. Overall, Catamarã is a musical surprise track after track. Just when the listener thinks the music is falling into a predictable pattern, André surprisingly reveals his musical nuances.
Tracks (all music by André Siqueira, except where noted):
- Toccata em Ritmo de Samba I (Radamés Gnattali)
- Chovendo na Roseira (Tom Jobim)