Any duet album featuring Brazilian string masters Yamandu Costa and Hamilton de Holanda is worth taking note, and for enthusiasts who have been following these two consummate instrumentalists, the 2008 São Paulo recording "Live!" on Adventure Music represents another gem to add to the Brazilian duet canon.
Released as the import "Luz da Aurora"/"Light of Dawn," the CD includes mostly original compositions by either one or both of the artists, with the addition of the Nazareth classic "Escorregando" that rounds out the album.
As one would expect, the skill "Yam" and "Ham" demonstrate is inconceivable. While both players have a firm grasp of traditional Brazilian music styles such as choro, samba and classical, they continuously challenge each other in creating a very modern sound. They flawlessly lock into the up-tempo grooves on such pieces as "01 Byte 10 Strings" and string together amazing lines on "Chamamé" and "Seasons." Admittedly, the dexterity and intensity on display is overwhelming at times. However, the dizzying flourishes are always tempered by interesting changes in tempo and dynamics that only few players out there can replicate.
What this get-together also highlights is each artist's ability to weep together musically, as in "Light of Dawn" or "Flower of Life." The later, featuring de Holanda's brilliant use of wistful tremolo strumming, blossoms after a wonderful build-up of emotion.
The nostalgic melody of "Samba for Rapha," an obvious homage to violão virtuoso Raphael Rabello, who tragically died at 33, is especially artful and intimates at Rabello's duet cut with the great Paulo Moura, "Domingo No Orfeão Portugal." "Domingo" is included on the 1992 must-have release, "Dois Irmãos."
One hopes that these two kindred spirits will join together on future collaborations, as the musical dialogue between them is at the same time tranquil and intimate as well as frenzied and fiercely intense, like a long-in-coming cell phone chat between two recently reunited childhood friends. We are very fortunate to have eavesdropped on that “Live!” conversation.