Cavi Records

Brazilian pianist André Mehmari -- participant in the top Brazilian Jazz festivals Civas and Heineken; winner of the 1998 Visa Award for Brazilian Popular Music; composer for the São Paulo Symphony, the Orquestras Experimental de Repertório and Jazz Sinfônica, the Quinteto Villa-Lobos and Sujeito a Guincho; 2001 winner of the national composer's competition "Symphony for Mario Covas" -- presents on Lacrimae slow waltzes and ballads, Jazz-tinged works with strong classicist roots, captured with true audiophile production values on the small Cavi label dedicated to the best new Brazilian instrumental music. Mastering gear included Manley and Millenia mike pres; Bryston amps; B&K, Neumann and Sennheiser mikes; dCS converters; Van den Hul cables; PS Audio AC synthesizers; and Dynaudio monitors.

The opening waltz "Eternamente" undergoes two variations that insert as tracks 6 and 10 to become a connecting leit motif between numbers that range from solo piano meditations to Jazz trio settings of double-bass and percussion, adding clarinet, cello or vocals in places. There are many neo-classical parallels to Keith Jarrett's seminal Köln Concert though these are often through-composed numbers rather than fully improvised in the studio - still, the contemplative effect of spontaneous exploration remains. Beside original compositions, numbers by Brazil's greats -- Jobim, Dorival Caymmi, Milton Nascimento, Paulo Cesar Oinheiro and Pixinguinha -- represent various styles and moods conjoined by an overriding sense of fluidity and poetry which completely eschews pyrotechnical showmanship; though the very real capability for the latter flashes through at moments of fiery interludes when the music demands it.

In visual terms, Lacrimae doesn't use oil, acrylic or impasto but the softer medium of watercolors. The subject matter is neither rendered photo-realist nor abstract but lives somewhere between those poles - shades of Couperin, Ravel and the aforementioned Keith Jarrett; lyricism with only the occasional edge or excursion into harmonically unrelated far-out territory; improv strongly embedded into scores. And did I mention that the recording quality is tops? In other words, a great way to spend seventy minutes escaping to elsewhere while the commuters battle traffic with soporific radio programming.