Daniel Murray ‘Guitar Solo: Universo Musical de Egberto Gismonti’ CD (Carmo/ECM) 4/5

In 1983 guitarist, pianist, composer and arranger Egberto Gismonti launched his own label, named after his Brazilian hometown Carmo. Focusing on other, mainly instrumental Brazilian artists, the label’s initial releases were predominantly for the Brazilian domestic market, until ECM began to make the music accessible internationally. It has been over a decade since the label’s last release, but 2019 sees two new albums from the label, a vocal and guitar duo, Grazie Writti & Matias Arriazu, and this set of solo guitar pieces from guitarist Daniel Murray.

As the title suggests, this is an album comprised entirely of Egberto Gismonti compositions. And so fitting it is that it is released on the legendary musician’s own label. There are 13 tracks on the album and all arrangements (except for 2 which were originally written for solo guitar by Gismonti himself), are lovingly crafted by Murray. The guitarist plays classical 6 string guitars and a classical 10 string guitar.

Born in 1981, from an early age Murray has dedicated himself to the classical guitar. He plays with a crisp, precise style, with a flare and intuitive understanding of the music he performs that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. Most evident on tunes such as ‘Água e vinho’, ‘Carmen’, ‘Sete anéis’, ‘A fala da paixão’ and ‘Choro’, his evocative playing is a joy to behold. Touches of sentimentality blend beautifully with Brazilian effervescence. Occasional bursts of the avant-garde on ‘Maracatu’, ‘Baião Malandro’ and ‘Saudações’ add a wonderful sense of adventure and playfulness to the proceedings.

Fans of Gismonti’s music, and indeed fans of classical guitar music in general, will love this album. Performed with style and panache, Daniel Murray takes the listener on a journey that truly gets to the heart of the composer’s music, and whilst there is the occasional challenging piece, it is always listenable and highly enjoyable, with a depth and sincerity to it that is both refreshing and respectful. A delightful album.

Mike Gates