Yamandu Costa is a Brazilian guitarist and composer. His main instrument is the Brazilian seven-string acoustic guitar.
Yamandu’s technical ability has been raising eyebrows since he was 15 years old. In fact, the ease with which his hands run over the seven-string guitar scale is impressive, but the skill is just one facet of this talented instrumentalist. Yamandu makes complex and interesting arrangements for traditional rhythms like milonga, choro and chamamé, emotionally interpreting them on a level achieved only by great musicians. His technique, therefore, is always used to make music of the highest quality.
When the curtains were opened Yamandu Costa was already in full steam, playing alone on the stage “Porro”, of Gentil Montaña, a type of Colombian cumbia. When he finished playing it, the guitarist told the audience that he thought of the show as a conversation between the different rhythms and instruments usually played in Latin American music, a continent of rich musicality in spite of its many problems.
For the other songs of the presentation, Yamandu called the guests Elodie Bouny (guitar), Guto Wirtti (double bass and acoustic bass guitar), Ernesto Fagundes (bombo leguero), Martin Sued (bandoneón) and Ricardo Araujo (Portuguese guitar). They played in different formations (duo, trio, quartet etc) according to each song.
In duo with longtime friend Wirtti on bass, they performed “Caballero”, in a perfect dialogue between the two instruments. Upon arrival on stage of the Argentinian Martin Sued, they played a sequence of tangos that was nothing less than stunning. Sued and Yamandu, in duo, performed “A Don Juan” and, with Guto Wirtti assuming the acoustic bass and the percussionist Ernesto Fagundes on the bombo legüero, they made “Chacarera” and “Danzarín”, classic of Julián Plaza. Wirtti is an excellent bass player, alternating the attacks on the strings with the bow and pizzicato with mastery, as it’s required for these complicated and fascinating tangos.
After “Paraguayta,” composed by Yamandu out of his admiration for Paraguayan guaranias, the guitarist calls Ricardo Araújo and his Portuguese guitar to play “Milonga Choro” and Pixinguinha’s classic “Os Cinco Companheiros”. The international conversation between double bass, Portuguese guitar, seven-string guitar and bandoneón worked awesomely, showing that for music there are no borders.
And speaking of boundaries that do not exist, Yamandu and Ricardo Araújo, in duo, performed “La Partida”, a Peruvian song that, who would guessed, became a Portuguese guitar hit. The fast performance of the two instrumentalists left the audience speechless.
The great guitarist Elodie Bouny played the “Feria-Leyenda” of her own, while her husband Yamandu used the break to drink a mate right there on stage. Then they played together “El Marabino”.
With all the guests on the stage, Yamandu finished the show with “Danza de La Vida Breve”, by the Spanish Antonio de Lucena, and “Catedral”. Applauded on foot (of course), they returned to play “La Pesada”, by the Argentine Luis Salinas.
Several of the twenty albums recorded by Yamandu are on streaming platforms and also on You Tube. I’ve found two of his concerts on You Tube that are a good introduction to those who do not know him yet (or well enough):
It is not easy to shoot the guy. Despite playing seated all the time, Yamandu moves a lot while playing. With a small depth of field (f 2.8), I had to be quick or I’d lose the focus. I made an album of the show and put it in my Flickr account.
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