This past Tuesday night, Odair Assad played a solo concert performance at the Belmont Mansion. Odair is very well known in classical guitar circles as a member of the world famous Assad Duo. A solo performance from him is apparently fairly rare, so this was a real treat.
Whenever I see a classical guitar concert, an anecdote I heard a number of years ago comes to mind. Rougly 10 years ago, Manuel Barrueco recorded an album called Nylon and Steel, which features many collaborative performances with well-known guitarists such as Andy Summers, Al di Meola, and Steve Morse. During the sessions, I remember reading about the contrast between Barrueco’s gear, which consisted of a guitar, a case, and a footstool, and the wall of amps and guitars that Steve Morse used for the sessions. It wasn’t really a slight against Morse, but a comment about the different worlds that each guitarist lived in.
That anecdote came to mind because Odair Assad came out and had a presence about him the entire night, and all he had with him was a guitar. No band, no amps, no cabinets, no pedalboards, and no roadies. Just a man, a guitar, and some beautiful pieces of music written by Kevin Callahan, Odair’s brother Sergio Assad, and one of my favorite composers, Leo Brouwer.
The thing that struck me perhaps more than anything else during the concert was Odair’s ability to not just play the music, but feel the music while he was playing it. I’ve seen some classical guitarists who play almost woodenly; the notes are there, but they lack passion. Odair’s playing most certainly did not lack passion. After more than 40 years touring the world, it’s refreshing to see someone that still so obviously loves the guitar and the music he’s playing.
I feel fortunate to have been able to catch this performance. I highly recommend checking out Odair if he performs in your area.
Classical guitar blogger Christopher Davis was also at the show, and he has written a review of Odair’s performance.