t seemed as if todo o mundo was in Yorkville for the Brazilian Guitar Marathon this past Saturday. The Luminato Festival had set up a stage in the little park at Bellair and a couple of blocks of Cumberland Avenue were blocked off to cars, turning the area into a mini, urban Tanglewood-meets-Carnival-in-Rio. (Note to the Bloor-Yorkville BIA: let’s turn part of Yorkville into a pedestrian-only area every weekend in the summer.) The guitarists who had been brought in for the five-hour extravaganza are the cream of the nylon-string set in Brazil, and therefore the world. I’m not sure what it is about Brazilian musical culture that breeds such nimble-fingered musicians, but Antonio Carlos Jobim wasn’t kidding around when he said “Brazilians seem born with a guitar in their arms.”
The six guitarists on the programme were from a mix of disciplines, and the concert was designed to showcase them individually but also bring them together for fusions of fresh sounds. So when the darlings of the classical world Duo Assad (brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad) took the stage with seven-string phenom Yamandu Costa, we got jazzy, percussive soloing over a lyrical Baroque piece.
One of the other brilliant acts I caught (in between taking respite from the sun and crowds to see old friends play at The Pilot Tavern during their regular Saturday afternoon jazz show) was agile singer/percussionist Luciana Souza and Romero Lubambo performing the gamut of samba, Jobim and Hermeto Pascoal, all at mind boggling tempos. The other players rounding out the afternoon were inventive singer/guitarist Badi Assad (sister of Sérgio and Odair) and Celso Machado. Luminato deserves big kudos for putting together this phenomenal programme of international performers and bringing them out of the concert halls and putting them on our streets for free.