There are certain duet albums that will stand the test of time and will forever remain in our minds: Elis Regina & Tom Jobim’s Elis & Tom, Ney Matogrosso & Raphael Rabello’s Pescador de Pérolas, Chico Buarque & Caetano Veloso’s Chico e Caetano Juntos e ao Vivo, Cesar Camargo Mariano & Romero Lubambo’s Duo and so on. You definitely have your favorites, too. I had no idea when I opened the classic and simple black and white package of Continuous Friendship that I would place that album on my desert island disc list. Of course I never doubted the competence of both artists. André Mehmari has not yet received the deserved international recognition that Hamilton de Holanda has. Nevertheless, he is undoubtedly one of Brazil’s best pianists and composers. If Piano e Voz, his collaboration with singer Ná Ozzetti in 2005, did not guarantee a place in your disc collection, Continuous Friendship will remedy that problem.
Joining these two artists in one album required some careful preparation. The repertoire had to be meticulously chosen, of course. Such talents are a must for a classic repertoire. So, it is no wonder that the album opens with Pixinguinha’s classic “Rosa.” André starts the soft introduction which leads into Hamilton’s sublime solo. Barely thirty seconds into the song, the two instruments are coupled for life. André’s piano artistry is astonishing. He sets the mood, the pace and the glory for an unforgettable travel through some of Brazil’s most beloved and treasured songs. Side by side, both artists take turns with the melody. Hamilton plays the mandolin with his unmistakably classy passion, and André holds no stops in showing his superbly artistic skills on the piano. And this is only the first track in this one hour of musical ecstasy. From a soft introduction in “Notícia,” the duo goes into a lively rendition of that classic samba. At times erudite, sometimes nearly experimental, and always entrancing, André and Hamilton deliver music as if their souls had forever been joined. It is remarkable to see how two artists with different musical experiences can share music together so well and so beautifully. Perhaps, André himself says it best when he attributes the different origins of their instruments as the reason they “never run out of topics to discuss, which makes this duo especially stimulating.” If that is stimulating to the artists, the listeners can only win.
Cartola’s “Acontece” is yet another memorable performance. This is the kind of music you can expect to hear when the gods are on your side. It cannot get any better than that or your senses might not be able to live through the experience. This is truly magnificent. From the classic to the contemporary in Guinga’s “Di Menor,” the duo here proves they know their music and perform it with gusto. They do not seem to ever stop for air. Even the love theme for Cinema Paradiso receives a surprising arrangement closing the circle of Brazilian and World music. The introduction they use in this piece carries the first notes from “Rosa.” A master’s touch!
Whether with Brazilian classics, their own compositions or even a foreign piece, Hamilton de Holanda and André Mehmari set the bar much higher for duo albums yet to come. Continuous Friendship is aptly named. These artists’ different backgrounds created a continuous source of worldly enjoyment.
Hamilton de Holanda & André Mehmari
Adventure Music AM1043 2 (2008)
- Rosa (Pixinguinha – Otávio de Souza)
- Notícia (Nelson Cavaquinho – Alcides Caminha – Norlval Bahia)
- Choro da Contínua Amizade (André Mehmari)
- Acontece (Cartola)
- Di Menor (Guinga – Celso Viáfora)
- Choro Negro (Paulinho da Viola – Fernando Costa)
- O Sonho (Hamilton de Holanda)
- Enchendo o Latão (Hamilton de Holanda)
- Vivo Entre Valsas (André Mehmari)
- Baião Malandro (Egberto Gismonti)
- Tema de Amor – Cinema Paradiso (Andrea Morricone)
Bonus Tracks (first rehearsal):
- Choro Negro
- Choro da Contínua Amizade