Back in 1989, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal organized several tribute concerts surrounding bassist Charlie Haden and many of his renowned peers. Of the various and sundry combinations put on display, the pairing of Haden with Brazilian composer and master musician Egberto Gismonti was surely the most inspired. Far from a marketing ploy, this duo seemed perfectly logical, considering that Haden and Gismonti had joined forces with Don Cherry a decade earlier to form Magico, a “world music” trio working within the ECM mold. Now for the first time, almost 80 minutes of music from Haden and Gismonti’s Montreal performance can be heard on disc.
Although a democratic spirit prevails, this is clearly Gismonti’s showcase, the lion’s share of originals coming from his pen. On 12-string guitar, he flies up and down the fret board in pyrotechnic displays that evoke a strong folk-like quality, with Haden’s own primal voice proving to be a perfect match. As a pianist, Gismonti’s classical upbringing is conspicuously evident. Overall, the results are both intimate and celebratory.