The CD opens with a wistful, rather classical rendition of Pixinguinha’s wonderful "Rose," and it sets the tone for most of the remainder of the repertoire. Cartola’s "It Happens" is another extravagant piece that fits the same bill. The two never allow any playing to reach the level of bathos or self-indulgence. Simply put, it’s two masters having a conversation, with two empty, red-rimmed wine glasses at their sides.
The two are incredibly in sync on the melodious runs on the title-cut choro and on "Underage." As in many pieces on this CD, they mix their introspective moments with bursts of impromptu exhilaration.
We know what de Holanda can do, but Mehmari repeatedly shows dynamism on his instrument from brusque Beethovenesque rants, to Gonzalo Rubalcaba-like understatement (See Charlie Haden’s Nocturne). He can even match Keith Jarrett’s 3 a.m. subtle ruminations on The Melody at Night, With You.
To close out the album, fans of "Ham" will notice that he reaches into his own grab bag, pulling out two tunes he’s previously recorded: Gismonti’s "Streetwise Baião" or "Baião Malandro" (Hamilton de Holdanda) and Morricone’s "Love Theme - Cinema Paradiso" (Samba do Avião). Although "Paradiso" has been reimangined by too many jazz artists as of late, the duo’s minimalism here works to perfection.
While de Holanda’s other duet work with accordionist Richard Galliano on Samba do Avião and with fellow mandolin virtuoso Mike Marshall on New Words is exceptional, I don’t think he reaches the same depth of emotion found here on this album. After all, what else can produce those results besides two virtuosi coming together to solidify a most welcome, continuous friendship?