Home » Jazz Articles » Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Merengue


Extended Analysis

Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Merengue


Sign in to view read count
Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Carlos Barbosa-Lima: Merengue
Carlos Barbosa-Lima
Zoho Music

There is distinct nobility surrounding the virtuosity of guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima. His South American sojourn, Merengue, presents sweeping vistas and myriad emotions described with degrees of technical superiority only a few other musicians have achieved. Unfortunately, Barbosa-Lima's reputation has not kept pace with his magnificent musicianship. But with this disc, he makes more than a double-leap forward.

Not only does Merengue do great things for Barbosa-Lima's reputation as a true master of the guitar, it also offers a staggering array of music from relatively unexplored regions of Brazil. Heitor Villa-Lobos is represented by the dense vibrancy of "Veleiro," a movement from his symphonic poem, A Floresta do Amazonica, and "Prelude No. 2," with its ever expanding dimensions of sonority. Redamés Gnattali, who composed several pieces especially for Barbosa-Lima, wrote the spectacularly performed "Invocation to Xango" that is carved out of Afro-Brazilian celebration ritual. Here it is given a fresh lease on life by Barbosa-Lima, who is accompanied by the percussion colorist, Duduka Da Fonseca, bassist George Anderson and the exquisite guitar trio of Barbosa-Lima, Karin Schaupp and Christopher McGuire.

Nestling cheek by jowl with the classics from Brazil are two charmingly moody pieces by Antonio Carlos Jobim—"Modinha," that features a heartfelt duet with the magnificent harmonica player Hendrik Meurkens, who returns to grace the guitarist's splendid efforts on Jobim's "Caminho de Pedra." The Cuban composer Leo Brouwer is also represented here by the vivacious "Danza del Altiplano" and "Guajira Criolla," a marvelously performed piece in all its colorful glory. Of course, there is much more here to give cause for considerable celebration, includng the music of Ernesto Cordero, the Uruguayan Isaias Savio and another Brazilian legend, Jacob do Bandolim, whose "Implicante" highlights the dazzling mandolin skills of Marcillio Lopes. There are also works by the Paraguayan Agustin Barrios, the Brazilians Ernesto Nazareth and Laurindo Almeida, and the Venezuelan, Rodrigo Reira. The great Venezuelan guitarist is honored by "Seis por Derecho." The Columbian composer Gentil Montaña is represented by "Nunca te Olvido," a rather lyrical piece.

Throughout the recording, however, the music is given new life by the exquisite lyricism of Barbosa-Lima. The guitarist has technique that is staggering and uses dynamics that few guitarists seem capable of in 2010. With great mastery and unbridled genius, Barbosa-Lima has singlehandedly expanded the literature of the guitar. The Brazilian is a bold innovator and has blurred the lines between classical, folk and popular idioms. His ingenuity makes the word "legendary" seems quite inadequate when describing just how intelligently and gracefully he is able to create utterly enduring jewels in music.

Barbosa-Lima has been a stellar concert guitarist for over five decades and has many recordings to his credit. This is his fifth for this Zoho label. Sadly, many of his recordings are now lost—a large part of his catalogue once existed in the vaults of Concord music but have been deleted. This album is also significant as it has been carefully produced by Heiner Stadler, a remarkably knowledgeable aficionado whose work spans the classic and the modern, as in his wonderful A Tribute to Bird and Monk (Tomato Records, 1986).

Here, however, Stadler presides over sessions of glorious vibrancy. The magic of this music remains in the memory many moments after the exquisite last chords have been struck by Carlos Barbosa-Lima on Byron Yasui's "Fantasy On A Hawaiian Lullaby."

Tracks: Invocation to Xango; Merengue; Veleiro; Modinha; Batuque; Caminho de Pedra; El Marabino; Seis Por Derecho; Prelude No. 2; Seis Milonga; Danza del Altiplano; Guagira Criolla; Cajita de Musica; Canhoto; Implicante; Cancion Carorena; Pais de Abanico; Nunca te Olvido; Escorregando; Fantasy on a Hawaiian Lullaby.

Personnel: Carlos Barbosa-Lima: guitar; Gustavo Colina: cuatro (2, 7, 8); Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica (4, 8); Marcillio Lopes: mandolin (14, 15); Duduka da Fonseca: percussion (1, 14, 15, 19); George Anderson: bass (1); Karin Schaupp: guitar (1, 3, 19); Christopher McGuire: guitar (1, 3, 19).

Track Listing

Invocation to Xango; Merengue; Valeiro; Modinha; Batuque; Camino De Pedra; El Marabino; Seis Por Derecho; Prelude No. 2; Seis Milonga; Danza Del Altiplano; Guajira Criolla; Cajita de Musica; Canhoto; Implicante; Cancion Carorena; Pais de Abanico; Nunca Te Olvido; Escorregando; Fantasy on a Hawaiian Lullaby.


Carlos Barbosa-Lima: guitar; Gustavo Collina: cuatro (2, 7, 8); Hendrik Meurkens: harmonica (4, 8); Marcillo Lopes: mandolin (14, 15); Duduka de Fonseca: percussion (1, 14, 15, 19); George Anderson: bass (1); Karin Schaupp: guitar (1); Christopher McGuire: guitar (1).

Album information

Title: Merengue | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Zoho Music

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.




Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.