The music of Brazil is an entire subculture unto itself. While populists may associate it with the smooth sounds of Jobim and Gilberto, it's just as much the ethnic folk music of Gismonti and Vasconcelos as it is the classical leanings of Villa-Lobos. That being said, when Italian clarinetist Gabriele Mirabassi first recorded with guitarist Sergio Assad and became known, as a result, to another Brazilian guitarist/composer, Guinga, a collaboration was soon in the offing.
Guinga, while not well-known to the rest of the world, is something of a musicians' musician in his native country, with an eclectic style that bridges the gap between Villa-Lobos, Jobim and one of the progenitors of the traditional choro style, Pixinguinha. The result of Mirabassi's teaming with Guinga is Graffiando Vento , and once again the Italian EGEA label has come up with a winner that, in this case, combines the diverse sounds of Brazil with the breezy ambience of the Mediterranean.
All the compositions are by Guinga, and they range from more lyrical pieces like "Choro pro Zé" and the tender "Valsa pra Leila" to the more complex "Vô Alfredo" and the elliptical "Baião de Lacan," where Guinga plays in fast unison with Mirabassi, while at the same time punctuating with sharp chordal shots.
Throughout the recording Mirabassi demonstrates his broad knowledge and extraordinary technique. From large swoops to delicate phrases, from rapid runs to simple thematic constructs, Mirabassi is one of the modern masters of the instrument, and he deserves to be ranked with other leading clarinettists including Don Byron and Louis Sclavis. Guinga is, quite simply, a hidden treasure, a writer of great depth and emotion, and a guitarist who manages to combine some of the folksiness of Gismonti with a more prodigious technical ability.
In the same way that the German ECM label has created a personal ambience, so too has EGEA, which eschews the sterility of the recording studio, opting instead for the warmer atmosphere of concert halls in and around Perugia, resulting in a lush sound that envelopes and caresses. Graffiando Vento is another fine recording that highlights the quality of this emerging label and, through Mirabassi's fine playing, the hidden strengths of the Italian jazz scene, a scene that has its own individual language and viewpoint on the convergence of improvisation with a more European and, in this case, Mediterranean bent.