Mandolin Player: Hamilton de Holanda

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hamilton de holanda
Hamilton de Holanda: he made me change my mind about the mandolin (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of the mandolin. However, there’s a player out there who is about to change my mind–Hamilton de Holanda.

The mandolin has a higher-pitched, kind of thinner sound than say the rich tones of a guitar or an oud. It is a descendant of the lute and its history reaches back to be one of the earliest instruments.

Brazilian mandolin player Hamilton de Holanda is just so incredibly fast, cool, and virtuosic that I am smitten! Born in Rio in 1978, he moved to Oscar Niemeyer’s futuristic capital of Brasilia with his family as a child. He’s done a number of great albums, but the one that’s killed me is a new one celebrating the songs of two giants of Brazilian music: Egberto Gismonti and Hermeto Pascoal. It’s called GismontiPascoal: The Music of Egberto and Hermeto. Issued here in the US in 2013, it’s an album of piano-mandolin duets. Another thing I’m not the biggest fan of is duet albums; it’s because I feel the need for a bass bottom-end and drums. Yet again, this album is an exception and won me over. I wasn’t the only one as it won Brazil’s 2011 award for best instrumental album. The pianist is Andre Mehmari, a Rio-based classically-trained virtuoso who taught himself jazz improvisation, something most classical pianists aren’t very good at because it’s a totally different style and way of thinking. But boy, does he play elegantly and beautifully with Hamilton.

Here they are playing a stunner called São Jorge from the new album.