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Music Review: Hamilton de Holanda Quintet – Brasilianos 2

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If Brasilianos 2 was a racer, it would have unleashed its turbo rocket boosters early to get ahead of the pack, only to cool off and found its right tempo at the end. While all of the songs by the Hamilton de Holanda Quintet are fresh and original, the opening three tracks are hectic, fast paced, and not a good example of what the rest of the album holds. The strength of Brasilianos 2 comes from it's slower tempo songs. Each musician in the Hamilton de Holanda Quartet gets a chance to be showcased without feeling like they are fighting for attention.

The first three tracks of the album were a bit overwhelming on the first listen. I had a better appreciation of "O Mundo Nao Acabou" when I separated it from the other two tracks "Ano Bom" and "Paz, Paes." The slow sections melding in with an increasing tempo is beautiful and there is such mastery with the mandolin. There is a slight gripe with the quintet. In the first few songs, it feels as though all five members want to be the lead with the harmonica wailing on top of the mandolin, which is arguing with the acoustic guitar. All of the members are talented and they each get a moment to shine on different tracks.

Even with a fast tempo, "Carolina de Carol" was coherent and positioned beautifully after "Ajaccio" to create a fresh attitude from several slower songs. Unlike the first three tracks, the song had multiple musical elements, but they all complimented each other. The album also ends with "A Vida Tem Dessas Coisas," which contains all quintessential elements of Latin Jazz.

The lightest and most emotionally charging song has to be "Amor, Saudae Amor" because it allows the mandolin to take the front in a very simplistic arrangement with only an acoustic guitar. The track is smooth and one can easily feel the longing in the song. The intensity of Hamilton de Holanda doesn't need to be proven by how fast he can run his fingers past ten strings, but rather how he can connect to the audience. Continuing the pace, the following track "Rafaela" is also very light and beautiful vibrato. Sadly, neither song is not part of the DVD playlist, but both are tracks that I would listen to over and over. Both "Amor, Saudae Amor" and "Rafaela."

The pacing of the album is probably the biggest gripe of Brasilianos 2. The first three tracks are too fast, the next five tracks slow down, then the songs get to a ballad pace and picks up lightly by the end. The songs could have been arranged a bit better, spacing out the fast-paced nature of "Ano Bom," "O Mundo Nao Acabou" and "Paz,Paes" would have made the whole album seem less rushed in the beginning and could have been better appreciated with a bigger contrast between tempos. Ironically, 2006's Brasilianos was arranged strongly, balancing out the tempos and emotions leaving no excuse for Brasilianos 2 to be arranged the way it is.

The DVD bonus, taped in France in 2008, is a nice touch to the whole package and gave better validity to the fast tempo songs. The visuals of the quintet working together accentuated the songs. Watching Hamilton de Holanda gives a better appreciation of his mandolin playing skills. Included on the DVD are several tracks from 2006's Brasilianos and one can see the growth of the quintet. One wonders though how long the quintet was working on the album because several tracks on the bonus DVD ended up on the album. The two years definitely showed that they have blended even better together.

With the advent of playlists, Brasilianos 2 could benefit from some rearrangement of tracks to better create cohesiveness. The album stands strong next to it's 2006 predecessor and blends well on a playlist. Fans will enjoy the bonus DVD and Hamilton de Holanda's skills and ability to improvise, while new listeners can appreciate the strong arrangements and how well the harmonica compliments the mandolin.

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About Michael Pascua