This sparkling suite for violin and piano came into being when the composer had to adapt his incidental score for a production of Shakespeare's play to the impending absence of the chamber orchestral. The result is a brilliant piece for violin and piano, which the composer quickly released in a four-movement version. There are other recordings of the chamber orchestra suite in five-movements that duplicate only three of the movements of this version. Violinist Gil Shaham and pianist André Previn are ideal partners in this brilliant performance. The four movements allow Shaham to show four sides of his violinist's personality: He skips and plays in carefree fashion in the opening movement, indulges in the grotesquery and parody of the second, gets to play the romantic in the garden scene of the third movement, and dazzles with virtuosity in the final hornpipe. Previn's part is more than mere accompaniment; the piano often has a large part of the mood of the music and his contribution is, to use a word already employed here, ideal.
This is undoubtedly the equivalent of Gilberto Gil "Unplugged" – Gil, his acoustic guitar, and a nonelectric five-piece band recorded live in a studio – and it is a thoroughly musical triumph as Gil mesmerizes his attentive audience for some 74 minutes. He starts out with the nearly pure reggae of "A Novidade," but before long, he establishes himself in a mostly consistent, loping set of intimate grooves thoroughly rooted in Brazil. Gil had a hand in writing all of this tuneful material except Anastacia Dominguinhos' "Tenho Sede," Caetano Veloso's "Sampa," and a left-field choice, Stevie Wonder's "The Secret Life of Plants," which lends itself very well to Gil's bossa nova approach and proenvironmental position. It is not a complete live portrait of Gil, though; the astounding quickness and flexibility of his voice is fully vented only toward the end of the concert. The later Quanta Live album will give you a wider panorama of Gil's range.
Gilberto Gil spent much of the 1970s recording at home in Brazil and had one recording issued in America during that time. His first English-speaking record (which was simply self-titled) was issued by Phillips worldwide and briefly by Paramount in the United States. He signed to WEA International in 1977. This album is the first result of that pairing. Nightingale was recorded in Los Angeles with Sergio Mendes, Alex Acuna, Oscasr Castro Neves, and some crack American studio talent that included Don Gruisin and Michael Sembello.
The second of two Gil Evans LPs originally recorded for the Japanese Trio label and put out in the United States on the now-defunct Black-Hawk company features the veteran arranger leading a 14-piece group at a pair of 1980 concerts. The five selections (which include Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free," Charles Mingus' "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress" and Evans's "Zee Zee") are given colorful treatment by the unique band, which consists of three keyboardists, a rhythm section propelled by drummer Billy Cobham, three trumpets (Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis and Hannibal Marvin Peterson), two trombones (including George Lewis), John Clark on French horn, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett and altoist Arthur Blythe. Although the end results do not quite live up to the potential of this unique ensemble, there are plenty of colorful moments.
One of arranger Gil Evans's main talents was his ability to fuse diverse, unique performers into a unified ensemble. He accomplishes that on the first of two LPs taken from a pair of 1980 concerts, even if his presence is felt more than heard. Although Evans is on electric piano, he also employed two other synthesizer players (Masabumi Kikuchi and Pete Levin) in his eclectic band, which at the time included such notables as Lew Soloff, Jon Faddis and Hannibal Marvin Peterson on trumpets, altoist Arthur Blythe, trombonist George Lewis, baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett and drummer Billy Cobham, among others. A lengthy "Anita's Dance" and a remake of "Gone, Gone, Gone" are the more memorable selections.
In his extensive discography, Gilberto Gil has explored almost every possible shade of pop music. In this album, produced by the independent label Pau Brasil (Gil is a WEA artist), he felt safe to shamelessly go back to earlier days, where his wonderful melodies were free of the artist's anxiety for fame and success.
Throughout his four-decades-plus career as one of Brazil's most popular singers, Gilberto Gil has restlessly sought new avenues of expression, from the heady and fiery psychedelic Tropicalia of the '60s to his 2002 album of Bob Marley covers, Kaya N'Gan Daya. But there was one thing Gil had never attempted until now, an album spotlighting nothing but his voice and guitar. Gil Luminoso is, by its very nature, one of the most intimate recordings he has ever made and, not surprisingly, one of the loveliest and most moving.
A leader of the Tropicalia movement in Brazil in 1967 and 1968, along with artists like Caetano Veloso and Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil and other musicians mixed native styles with rock and folk instruments. Because Gil fused samba, salsa, and bossa nova with rock and folk music, he's recognized today as one of the pioneers in world music. A multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, Gil joined his first group, the Desafinados, in the mid-'50s and by the beginning of the '60s was earning a living as a jingle composer. Although known mostly as a guitarist, he also holds his own with drums, trumpet, and accordion.
Perhaps no one in the world outside Jamaica is better equipped to perform a Bob Marley tribute than Gilberto Gil. The two are very nearly equals; Gil meant as much to residents of Brazil as Marley did to Jamaicans – even though popularity in Brazil means competing in a very crowded field. Gil is also an exact contemporary of Marley's (he is three years older, but began recording at the same time) and, like Marley, arrived at a distinctive sound only after years of working in the local vernacular. (For Marley it was ska and rocksteady, while for Gil it was bossa nova and samba.) He does owe a debt of gratitude to Bob Marley, however, for it was Marley's global stardom during the '70s that enabled Gil to begin making an impact overseas (especially in Africa).