Mike Marshall and Hamilton de Holanda
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Mike Marshall and Hamilton de Holanda

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A meeting of minds, cultures and wizardly techniques, here’s yet another reminder of mandolinist Mike Marshall’s well-documented habit of placing himself in challenging and intriguing settings. This time around, Marshall, who previously has collaborated with the likes of David Grisman, Darol Anger, Béla Fleck and Stéphane Grappelli, teams up with Brazilian virtuoso Hamilton de Holanda, who is heard here playing the 10-string bandolim and an Irish bouzouki. The instrumental weaves produced by the duo are often as intricate as they are distinctive, which is saying a lot, since in addition to mandolin, Marshall briefly plays mandocello and tenor guitar.
Yet for all the remarkable handiwork on display, the performances also reveal a natural, even chummy chemistry at times, and leave little doubt that both musicians are suckers for string-band romps and romantic themes. Given the overlapping influences, it’s oversimplifying things to say that the tunes here—original pieces as well as Appalachian anthems (“Blackberry Blossom”), pop standards (“Autumn Leaves”) and several South American charmers (not least Hermeto Pascoal’s “São Jorge”)—reflect a convergence of cultures. But the colorful hemispheric shifts certainly make for a lively and lyrical session.

Those who need to see in order to believe this duo’s high wire act will especially welcome the bonus DVD, featuring three concert performances. But pickers who scan these videos with hopes of stealing some hot licks should be forewarned: Prepare to encounter feelings of woeful inadequacy.

-Mike Joyce

- Jazz Times


Few musicians on the planet can do what mandolinist Mike Marshall does. Sometimes, as in this setting, we actually have to go to the other side of the globe to match musical wits and kinetic mandolin prowess. Mission accomplished in this magnificent recording, teaming the versatile veteran with the 30-year-old Brazilian superstar bandolimist, Hamilton de Holanda. Marshall quips about his "Brother," the "Monster from WAY down South..."
Brandishing an arsenal of Loar-era Gibson mandolin, 10-string (Tércio Ribeiro) custom bandolim, a bouzouki and mandocello, the twosome fill the harmonic strata high and low with a wide range of melodic, harmonic and percussive texture. Marshall is well known for his past artistic architectural prowess in the duo environment. Partnering with the likes of Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, Darol Anger and a myriad of other musical monsters in his first Choro CD "Brasil Duets," including Béla Fleck, Andy Narrell, Michael Manring, Jovino Santos Neto, and wife, violinist Kaila Flexer, among others. He's always been able to adapt and exploit the wide-open sonic terrain with competent others, filling with interesting nuance and comprehensive compositional structure. Heart of the project is gorgeous, rich Choro heritage from the Brazilian giants, Jacob do Bandolim, Pixinguinha, Nazareth, Garota, and some lush Hermeto Pascoal, but we also enjoy some of the compositional artistry of the two in some originals. Throw in some Americana, an acoustic classic of Béla Fleck (Big Country), a kicking excursion into a traditional Fiddletune (Blackberry Blossom), and the Johnny Mercer classic (Autumn Leaves), you get the literal best of both worlds.
Many of the Brazilian songs, "Receita de Samba," "Pra Sempre," "Valse em Si," and "Devairada" have been recorded previously by these artists in other ensemble settings, but the opportunity to hear the songs with the complementary sonic competence of Hamilton's low-mid, punchy 10-string bandolim in tandem with Mike's vintage Loar F5 in all its soprano purity is a extraordinary pleasure.
Hamilton often drives the duo with the intense pedal-point foundation of his duo-style school training, occasionally morphing into a walking bass and still manages to weave chordal accompaniment at the same time. Quick Light Bulb Joke: "How many bass players does it take to change a light bulb?" Answer: "None. The piano player can do it with her left hand..." In this situation it's Hamilton turning on the lights, yet masterfully trading melodic duties with Mike midst the grounding. Both artists exploit the entire range of the fretboard, finger-wizardry never failing to pull lyric splendor and a cleanly-picked linear steadfastness seldom associated with the mandolin, especially in the speed-at-any-cost Bluegrass realm.
Percussive roots engaged, pick becomes drumstick, bandolim body becomes pandeiro, and the tiny strings between nut and tuner perform as makeshift agogo bells. Add some impromptu multi-phonic vocals and the duo becomes strings, percussion, and winds. Anything but "stark," there are lots of notes here, complex, inventive orchestration in every sense of the word.
Marshall tells us Hamilton is quite adept with American Jazz standards. The CD's very brief tease with the popular "Autumn Leaves" is a taste of this hidden treasure, and we quiver at the thought of more, combining a traditional jazz, "Realbook Jazz" with his dynamic Latin flair and flamboyant dexterity. His "Valsa em Si (Waltz in B)" is certainly a glimpse of this potential, its innate linear pull and harmonic flair could very well stand the test of time; and we see becoming a true "standard" decades from now. Solid composition, like good architecture, an exacting science clad in an artistic soulfulness, Hamilton is a master builder of melody and memorable chord progression.
We've enjoyed past Mike Marshall duo settings, his work with long-time friend Darol Anger, and recently consummate mandolin virtuoso, Chris Thile. Perpetually seeking a new challenge, this new opportunity to revisit his beloved Choro with another gifted musician, perhaps one of the greatest bandolimists alive, has transcended personal labor of love and brought the world another rich opportunity to discover the wealth of Brazil, a centuries-cultivated tradition of lush harmony and percussion. The primal simplicity of indigenous "Folk Music," yet augmented by a keen a virtuosic musicianship, we hope to enjoy the fruits of many more years of partnership of these two.
Many more "New Words." Novas palavras.

- Jazz Mando


With New Words, Appalachian old-timey music meets Brazilian choro in the hands of two immensely talented artists who first met at the French "Mandolines des Lunel" festival, taking the instrument in its multiple manifestations back to its European origins. From Rio de Janeiro but with nordestino roots, Hamilton de Holanda (10-string bandolim-the distinctive teardrop-shaped Brazilian mandolin, Irish bouzouki) first emerged with Dois de Ouro, a duo with guitarist Fernando César, his brother. Mike Marshall (mandolin, mandocello, tenor guitar; best known for his work with Darol Anger and Psychograss) has been exploring Brazilian music for some time with Choro Famoso, Hermeto Pascoal, and Jovino Santos Neto, among others.
Moreover, Marshall's Adventure Music label has recorded numerous Brazilian artists, so New Words is a natural pairing. Recorded at Marshall's Gatorland Studio (Oakland, California), this title blends choros by Jacob do Bandolim, Garoto, de Holanda, Ernesto Nazareth, Hermeto Pascoal, and Pixinguinha, with bluegrass standards and contemporary tunes by Marshall and Bela Fleck. Also included is a live DVD of three tracks: "Receita de samba," "Blackberry Blossom," and an astounding and joyous interplay on "Brejeiro" (a Portuguese word variously translated as "loafer," "rascal" or "coquette"). - Michael Stone

- RootsWorld


With this sparsely yet intricately arranged and fascinating collection by two of the world's greatest mandolin players, Adventure Music continued to live up to its name in the early 2000s as one of the world's top purveyors of world (with a special emphasis on Brazilian) music. Meeting when they were both artists in residence at a mandolin festival in Lunel, France, Mike Marshall and Hamilton de Holanda quickly overcame the obvious cultural and language barriers to realize a shared sense of musical and geographic boundary breaking. Well known for his work with David Grisman, Stéphane Grappelli and Béla Fleck, among others, Marshall taps magically into his bluegrass roots on spirited tracks like "Blackberry Blossom" and Fleck's "Big Country." Yet the real focus of this work is the fun he and de Holanda — one of the leading figures of Brazilian instrumental music by the age of 30 — create on brisk Brazilian pieces like the seductive and snappy opening track "Recita de Samba" and "Brejeiro," which blends melodic strumming with percussive tapping on the strings. Their lightning quick repartee and plucky energy on this song and de Holanda's bubbly composition "Pra Siempre" dare the eager listener to keep up. Amid the gleeful madness there are more reflective and heartfelt moments, like de Holanda's "Valsa Em Si," which add some mood variation. Marshall contributes two sweeping pieces of his own in the seven-minute plus epics "Egypt" and exotic (and slightly autobiographical) "Ham & Mike." The set includes a bonus DVD featuring live video footage of three of the songs. - All Music Guide


Now this is the perfect DualDisc-type combo as far as I'm concerned. Well, would be even more perfect if the CD were a hybrid SACD and the DVD had a DTS 5.1 soundtrack, but who am I to grouse. The point is the buyer gets a terrific mandolin duo CD (which can be played anywhere) featuring a variety of music - not just Brazilian - plus three great video tracks of the duo in action playing three of the tunes also heard on the CD. In other words, the DVD is not just a promotional video of the performers or album - as done with many such packages - but actual performances by the artists on the CD, though a bit short.

Mike Marshall has been just about the top mandolin picker on recordings for some decades now - with Darol Anger, Edgar Meyer, David Grisman, Psychograss, The Modern Mandolin Quartet, and various Brazilian musicians. Hamilton De Holanda is one of the leading figures in contemporary Brazilian instrumental music, though just 30 years old. He met Marshall at a mandolin festival in France a couple years ago, and this album is a delightful example of the music they now make together with only their large and small mandolins. (Actually, Marshall is also heard on a mandocello and a tenor guitar and Holanda plays both a 10-string Bandolim and an Irish Bouzouki.) They're both superb pickers and in spite of cultural and language differences they share a fascination with cutting thru the separations between different types of music around the world. they are plainly into extreme crossover. Just look at the song list. Don't miss these guys - they'll bowl you over!

Tracks: Receita de Samba, Blackberry Blossom/Apanhei-te Cavaquinho, Egypt, Brejeiro, Valsa em Si, Cochichano, Big Country, Desvairada, Sao Jorge, Pre Sempre, Autumn Leaves, New Words, Ham & Mike, Reprise of Receita de Samba.

- John Henry

- Audiophile Auditions


JAMES LAMPERETTA, For The Saratogian
12/03/2006

Occasionally I receive something that I don't expect will tickle my fancy. And sometimes, when I do finally get around to listening, I find that I am much more than pleasantly surprised. Such is the case with Mike Marshall and Hamilton de Holanda's 'New Words/Novas Palavras' on Adventure Music, an album of duets featuring Marshall on mandolin, mandocello and tenor guitar and de Holanda on 10-string bandolim and Irish bouzouki.

This title leans more toward world music than jazz. Nonetheless, it is impossible not to get caught up in the unbridled joy and instrumental virtuosity which abounds on the 14 tunes presented. A bonus DVD rounds out the package and presents a trio of live performances. This is hands-down my discovery for 2006.

- Saratogian.com


There are good mandolin players, and there are great mandolin players, like Sam Bush and David Grisman. Then there are the monster mando pickers. Mike Marshall and Hamilton de Holanda are two of them.
Marshall is a known quantity from his work with Grisman and violinist Darol Anger. Brazilian mandolinist de Holanda, however, is new to many of us, and his playing here is mindlblowing.
This double CD/DVD set starts off with the jaunty “Receita de Samba,” which seems innocuous until the mandolinists start burning up their fretboards. The accent on this and several songs on the album in super-fast picking, with frequent forays into speedy 8th-, 16th- and 32nd-note lines. For a real chop-fest, cup up “Desvairada,” which is a Latin barnburner. The coup de grace is the finale of “Blackberry Blossom,” where the two indulge in 15 seconds of blinding unison runs.
Both have chops to burn, but are able to play beautiful melodies and tasty licks galore. “Egypt” is an evocative composition, while the Latin-fueled “Brejeiro” features a danceable groove and more stunning mando work. For gear, Marshall plays a mandolin, a large-bodied mandocello and four-string tenor guitar, while de Holanda uses a 1-string Brazilian instrument called a bandolim, as well as Irish bouzouki. You can check out these instruments on the accompanying DVD, which showcases a few sizzling live tracks from this dynamic duo.
If you like mandolins, “Dawg music,” or any virtuoso acoustic music, these are easy to recommend and provide a great introduction to the hugely talented de Holanda, and a great return to form for Marshall. – Pete Prown

- Vintage Guitar Magazine


To call their duo album “New Words” is very indicative of the creative cross-cultural musical conversations that Mike Marshall and Hamilton de Holanda engage in during this generous hour-long set. There are some pieces that start with whispering sentiments (“Valsa em Si”), while others convey much more heated and fiery exchanges (“Desvairada”). With a healthy portion of five original pieces (Egypt, Ham & Mike, New Words, Pra Sempre, Valsa em Si), this album also illustrates the exceptional songwriting abilities of the pair.

Mike Marshall’s innovative playing has been well-documented in the past with such bands or artists as Psychograss, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Darol Anger, Jovino Santos Neto and Choro Famoso. At the 2004 Lunel, France Mandolin Festival, another artist-in-residence was 30-year-old Brazilian music master Hamilton de Holanda. The collaborative communication of Mike’s “new words’ with Ham’s “novas palavras” illustrate a fluency that results in smoothly flowing, expressive music. Why, there’s even some verbal scat to close “Sao Jorge.”

Mike adeptly plays mandolin on all but three tracks where he picks mandocello or tenor guitar to convey different moods. Hamilton plays the 10-string bandolim except on three tracks where he picks Irish bouzouki. Without any low end or percussion in the mix, it’s hard to say how radio-friendly the dialogue is, and that may discourage some DJs from spinning such a disc. However, in such an artist collaboration, the sparsity of sound actually provides much of its spark. It allows us to focus on the masters bantering and hear all the new words clearly. Take “Ham & Mike,” for example, with the two voices having a rather sparkling discussion. It was perfect motivational background music for a busy day at work. At times, there are so many words (notes) being exchanged, that the conversations become a tad difficult to comprehend. The sheer extent of this body of music, that also includes a 3-track DVD recorded at the 2005 Savannah Music Festival, is somewhat mind-boggling. Being a good listener will allow you to appreciate how a standard fiddle tune like “Blackberry Blossom” can segue into Ernesto Nazareth’s classic choro “Apanhei-te Cavaquinho.” It’s a small world now, and taking a trip from Appalachia to Brazil is not that hard to fathom. But then throw in stops along the way in Mike Marshall’s “Egypt,” Bela Fleck’s “Big Country,” or on the beautiful Azorean island of “Sao Jorge,” and you’ll appreciate both the worldly and wordy aspects of this album’s healthy musical and innovative discourse. (Joe Ross

- Joe Ross, for Amazon.com


MIKE MARSHALL-HAMILTON DE HOLANDA/New Words Novas Palavras: Looking at the label’s recent output, it should come as no surprise that it would only a mater of time before Marshall got around to kicking it out with his new sidekick/pal. It’s funny to think that we’ve been digging Marshall so long that a 30 year old like de Holanda would look at him as an elder statesman, but this is a collection that finds it’s spark in a wealth of cross cultural sparks whether grounded in age, location, style, or whatever. Letting their mandolins do the talking, this is one of those style busting dates like the kind Marshall and his pals made in the early days of NAC, when nobody knew what to call that then either. Just call it virtuoso playing by some first call picks that really found a spark playing off each other.
1029 (Adventure Music) - Midwest Records


Discography

Mike Marshall/Hamilton de Holanda:
“New Words/Novas Palavras” – Adventure Music

Mike Marshall discography:
Mike has been recording since 1972, beginning with the David Grisman Quintet.
He has nearly 50 recordings to his name, on labels such as Rounder, Windham Hill,
Sugar Hill, Sony Classical, Compass, Six Degrees, Kaleidoscope, and Adventure Music.

Hamilton de Holanda discography:
Intimo
Samba Do Aviao
Brasilianos
01 Bytes 10 Cordas
Continua Amizade
Hamilton De Holanda
Intimo
Musica Das Nuvens E Do Chao
Musica De Hamilton De Holanda

Photos

Bio

Hamilton de Holanda bio:
In the legacy of such great mandolinists as Jacob do Bandolim, Joel Nascimento and Armandinho, the young Hamilton de Holanda stands out like a beacon for the future of Brazilian music today. Considered one of the greatest virtuosos to ever play the instrument, Hamilton was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1976. He very quickly revolutionized the state of the art form and created a new standard of musicianship and creativity that is unparalleled today.
De Holanda has developed a thorough polyphonic playing technique, as well as an enriched timbral and percussive palette on his extended range mandolin (he has an added low C string). Hamilton's charismatic and communicative enthusiasm on stage, his flawless playing and his sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic sense make him one of the most remarkable musicians of the new generation of performers and composers.
In just a few years of touring and recording, Hamilton has already performed with some to the top names in acoustic music and jazz. He has worked with Mike Marshall, Hermeto Pascoal, Joao Bosco, Marco Pereira, Richard Galliano and Cesarea Evora to name a few.
Benefited both from a stimulating musical ambience in his family (where his father and brothers were all outstanding musicians) and an in-depth academic training, Hamilton finished his studies at the music university by composing a concerto for orchestra and bandolim which he has performed with the Symphonique Orchestra of the National Theater and the Philharmonique Orchestra of Brazilia.
Each year the Brazilian government awards a grant to one student to study abroad for one year. Hamilton was awarded this grant and moved to Paris, France in 2003.
His work is very much Brazilian at its core, and yet it has a thoroughly contemporary and worldview aesthetic. His interpretations are energetic and improvisational, yet very soulful, crossing many musical boundaries - especially Latin, jazz and world music styles.
Hamilton's quartet CD, Musica das Nuvens e do Choro (produced by Torcuato Mariano), moves his group to a jazz-oriented contemporary style. The virtuosity of all four players is breathtaking throughout the CD's mix of original compositions and works by Egberto Gismonti, Hermeto Pascoal and Astor Piazzolla.
His solo mandolin CD 01 Byte 10 Cordas is a tour de force for the art of mandolin playing today and his CD of duets with mandolinist Mike Marshall, “New Words” was released in 2006 on Adventure Music, with a bonus DVD featuring three tunes performed at the prestigious Savannah Music Festival.

In 2007, Hamilton was nominated for a Latin Grammy, for his CD “Brasilianos.” He also
released “Intimo” in 2007 (Adventure Music), and will soon release “Continuous Friendship”, a duo project with pianist André Mehmari, also on the Adventure Music label.

Mike Marshall bio:
Mike Marshall is one of the most accomplished and versatile acoustic musicians performing today, a master of mandolin, guitar and violin whose playing is as imaginative and adventurous as it is technically thrilling. Able to swing gracefully from jazz to classical to bluegrass to Latin styles, he puts his stamp on everything he plays with an unusually potent blend intellect, humor and emotion  a combination of musical skill and versatility rare in the world of American instrumentalists.

Now living in Oakland, California, Mike grew up in Central Florida, where throughout his teens he played and taught bluegrass mandolin, fiddle and guitar. In 1979, at the age of 19, he was invited to join the original David Grisman Quintet in the SF Bay Area. That association quickly lead to his recording and touring with some of the top names in acoustic music today including Tony Rice, Mark O’ Connor, Stephane Grappelli, Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer.

Mike has since played on hundreds of acoustic-music recordings both as a featured artist and performer. His 1982 CD, Gator Strut, is a classic example of a new generation of bluegrass virtuoso instrumentalists forging new directions in American instrumental music.

Today Mike can be heard on the Car Talk soundtrack recording every week on NPR along with Earl Scruggs, David Grisman and Tony Rice. In addition Mike composed and recorded the theme music for the San Francisco based radio program Forum heard daily on KQED radio.

One of his more recent CDs is a mandolin duet project with Chris Thile from the group Nickel Creek, entitled Into The Cauldron, on Sugar Hill records. This CD was listed in the top ten of Amazon.com's favorite recordings for 2003.

In 1983, Mike and violinist Darol Anger formed a partnership and established the band Montreux with pianist Barbara Higbie, bassist Michael Manring, and steel-drum virtuoso Andy Narell. The group released five recordings on the Windham Hill label and toured extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan from 1984 to 1990.

In 1986, while still a member of Montreux, Mike founded a classical string