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Egberto Gismonti

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Biografia

A virtuoso on both guitar and piano, Egberto Gismonti found an original way of bridging the gap beween the Brazilian folk tradition and classical music. His innovations included designing and playing a new kind of guitar, using the fretboard like piano keys so that it sounded like several instruments being played at the same time creating an effect that resembled a full orchestra.

He was born into a musical family - his uncle and grandfather were both band leaders - in Carmo state, Brazil in 1947 and, studying piano as a child, took up guitar in his teens. Profoundly influenced by the Brazilian master Heitor Villa-Lobos, he went on to study composition in Paris under Nadia Boulanger who encouraged him to be more adventurous, break musical rules and explore his own native musical tradition. Meeting indigenous people in the Amazonian rainforest also proved to be a seminal point in his career, changing his perceptions of music language and informing his approach thereafter; his time living in the Xingu region directly resulted in tunes like 'Yualapeti' and 'Sapain' and his subsequent albums.

His acclaimed 1977 album 'Dança das Cabeças' - his first for the ECM label - with percussionist Naná Vasconcelos, re-wrote the Brazilian music tradition of samba and bossa nova in exciting new ways and he went on to dedicate the 1978 album 'Sol de Meio Dia' and 'Duas Vozes' of '84 to the Xingu people. He went on to form significant partnerships with saxophonist Jan Garbarek and bassist Charlie Haden on the well-received albums 'Magico', 'Folk Songs' and 'Magico: Carta de Amor.' In 1995 he recorded with the State Symphonic Orchestra of Lithuania on the album 'Meeting Point' and also became something of a businessman, running the label Carmo, while continuing to work with ECM. Continuing to explore new territory, in 2009 he released the double album 'Sertões Veredas - Tributo à Miscigenação', which included guitar duets with his son Alexandre Gismonti.