Sanfona was a stunning closeup on his guitar virtuosity, his last album of the 80s was another masterpiece in the same zone. The title means 'Dance of the slaves', and the sleevenotes consist of "Fragments of the history of the colonizers collected by Geraldo Carniero" (a poet, playwright and composer from Belo Horizonte). Many of these historical quotations make for brutal reading, and end with an observation from the time of the American Revolution about the transitory nature of any regime.
All of this is balanced out by the inclusion of a drawing of Gismonti by his then seven year old son Alexandre, captioned "Meu querido papai tocando" (my dear dad playing). It's as if to underline that any nation's unfiltered history may be uncomfortable, but there's still beauty to be seen - in this case, family. This translates into the music, as Gismonti once again brings together all of his study into the history of Brazilian music into a gorgeous collection of six original compositions (and one by Heitor Villa-Lobos).
At times sombre, like the closing Memoria E Fado or the opening of Villa-Lobos' Trenzinho Do Caipira, at times upbeat and joyful dances (Lundu, Alegrinho), Dança Dos Escravos comes in every shade of expression. Gismonti actually subtitles each track with a colour, respectively red, blue, green, yellow, black, white and brown; the reasons for the choices aren't made clear, so I suppose it's up to the listener to make any connections if they wish. His playing, on 6, 10, 12 and 14 string guitars, and his breathtaking technique and melodic/harmonic talents really do all the talking, most strikingly on the 15-minute suite that comprises the title track.
mega / zippy