Natalie Cressman and Ian Faquini: Guinga

American trombonist and nylon-string guitarist pay tribute to Brazilian composer Guinga, who himself appears on the album


This release pays tribute to Brazilian songwriter Guinga – but don’t worry, the great man is alive and well. In fact, Guinga wrote or co-wrote all 14 songs. He also plays guitar and sings on several tracks. It’s rare for a musician to get their flowers before getting a funeral wreath. It’s even rarer for the muse to join the studio sessions. The result? An album of rare beauty.

The instrumentation is rare too. Trombonist and singer Natalie Cressman carries many of the record’s most gorgeous moments of melody. Ian Faquini cradles the compositions in his hands and warms them with his soft-touch classical guitar. Guinga is a regular guest on guitar and vocals. A couple more singers pop up on one track as well.

Lavagem De Conceição is that multi-vocalist showcase. It starts as a grief-slowed lament before trombone adds a staccato melody. Guinga, Cressman and two friends then enunciate a rapid-fire vocal line. There’s a blues-inflected trombone solo and more singing, until the group converges on a sumptuous final note.

Mainly, the album takes a gentler pace and explores prettier patterns. Delírio Carioca is a typical example, where notes cast broad shadows like clouds drifting over green hillsides. There are happier energies sprinkled into the mix, like the baião rhythm on Por Trás De Brás De Pina. Cressman demonstrates her pristine phrasing here, while Faquini’s fleet-fingered playing fuels the unpredictable melody.

Cressman and Faquini are unlikely co-creators but their musical shapes tessellate perfectly. Together, they give flowers to Guinga and present equally lavish gifts to their listeners. It’s rare for a tribute to feature its subject. And it’s even rarer for a record to offer such grace and gorgeousness.

Contradição; Bolero de Satã; Lavagem de Conceição; Aria de Opereta; Delírio Carioca; Ramo de Delírios; Por Trás de Brás de Pina; Par Constante; Garoa e Maresia; Segredo de Dadá; Nítido e Obscuro / Geraldo No Leme; Ellingtoniana; Viola Variada; Vô Alfredo (52.09)
Cressman (tb, v); Faquini, Guinga (g, v); Sandy Cressman, Anna Paes (v). Occidental, USA, 2024.