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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Sergio & Odair Assad

By Chris Heim
Published January 24, 2008

Jardim Abandonado
Nonesuch

Although these Brazilians are best known for their skill and chemistry as a classical guitar duo, brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad have also made regular forays into jazz and world music. They bring all these strands together on their seventh album, which revolves around shorter works by Jobim (from his soundtrack to A Casa Assassinada, including the melancholy title track “Abandoned Garden”), Milhaud (two movements from Scaramouche, including a vibrant “Brazileira”) and Debussy (three movements of Suite Bergamasque, minus the much-overdone “Clair de Lune”). True, there is no “Clair,” but there are three compositions from Sérgio’s daughter Clarice—a voice of the next generation and, like the others here, equally at home in classical, jazz and Brazilian music. Rounding out the set are Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Sérgio’s tantalizing “Tahhiyya Li Ossoulina,” a tribute to Brazil’s Lebanese immigrants (among them the Assads’ grandfather). Jardim ends at a beginning—with the Bergamasque “Prelude”—pointing to Debussy’s pivotal influence and inviting listeners to hear this music anew. Set in a fresh context, these are performances delivered with vivacity and intelligence by two remarkably accomplished musicians.