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Sergio Assad is widely celebrated for the classical guitar duo he has with his brother Odair; they’ve won a Grammy together, released a series of acclaimed albums for Nonesuch, dabbled in a variety of nonclassical styles, and performed all over the globe. They seem to play locally as often as they play anywhere in the world these days, a fortunate byproduct of Sergio’s marriage to Angela Olinta, a professor at the University of Chicago; he lives here. Tonight the Assads lead an interesting program of Brazilian music at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the campus of Northwestern University to kick off the school’s 2008 Segovia Classical Guitar series. Their sister Badi, an accomplished and inventive guitarist, singer, and interpreter of the bossa nova, is also on the bill, but it’s the presence of two other Brazilian guitarists that most piques my interest.
Romero Lubambo (pictured), who lives in New York, is generally considered a jazz guitarist, but it seems unlikely that anything could take the Brazilian quality out of his style. He’s played here before, including some great performances with singer Luciana Souza, but my favorite context of his is Trio da Paz, with bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka da Fonseca; the group masterfully blurs the line between jazz and bossa, and on its fine album Somewhere (Blue Toucan, 2005) tunes by Jobim and Badel Powell segue naturally into works associated with Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck. I wish I could be as enthusiastic about his solo album Softly (MaxJazz, 2006), but he demonstrates gross lapses in taste, from covering “Just the Two of Us” to using a guitar synthesizer. For this concert he’ll perform a couple solo pieces–an original and “Influencia do Jazz” by the great Carlos Lyra–and then join fellow guitarist and singer Celso Machado for a spin through “Estamos Ai.”
Various Artists, South Side Soul Survey (Soulscape)
Francisco Lopez, Untitled #164 (Unsounds)
Bud Freeman, 1939-1940 (Chronological Classics)
Strawbs, From the Witchwood ( A&M)
Eduardo Mateo, Mateo Solo Bien Se Lame (Lion Productions)