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Jazz Caliente: Discovering Egberto Gismonti

Brazilian pianist and guitarist Egberto Gismonti
Roberto Cifarelli (
courtesy of the artist
Brazilian pianist and guitarist Egberto Gismonti

The 2019Earshot Jazz Festivalbrings us a rare opportunity to see Brazilian guitar master Egberto Gismonti on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Jazz Caliente invites you to learn more about this unique artist.

Classically trained on piano from age 6, Gismonti studied at the Brazilian Conservatory of Music for 15 years, then moved to Paris in order to focus on modern music.

He became a student of the famed composer, conductor and educator Nadia Boulanger, who encouraged him to write music that reflected his Brazilian heritage, and also to ignore boundaries and "just trust, and break the rules."

Then Gismonti taught himself to play guitar. He designed and experimented with eight- and 10-string guitars, applying his piano keyboard skills to the fretboard. On his recordings, it often sounds like more than one guitarist is playing.

Other components of the Gismonti legend are his connection with the indigenous people of the Amazon rain forest, whose music further inspired him, and his association with Brazilian maestro and cultural icon, Hermeto Pascoal.

Mixing classical, Brazilian folk and indigenous music traditions with jazz-like improvisation, Gismonti has claimed a distinctive position in world music. 

This week on Saturday's Jazz Caliente, we'll hear a selection from Egberto Gismonti's 1988 album "Dança dos Escravos (Dance of the Slaves)." 

Below is a concert and interview video of Gismonti in Argentina. Of course, seeing him perform live is best, and his upcoming solo concert for the Earshot Jazz Festivalpromises to be mesmerizing.

Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.