Piano-Guitar Duo a Marvel of Subtlety


The title of pianist Clare Fischer’s new album with Brazilian guitarist Helio Delmiro is “Symbiosis.” And it obviously was a meaningful choice, since it would be hard to more accurately describe the pair’s performance Tuesday in the opening set of a three-night run at the Jazz Bakery.

The evening, like the recording, had a strikingly intimate quality--Fischer and Delmiro (joined on a few numbers by bassist Brent Fischer) seated in relaxed fashion side by side, facing the audience. The between-songs commentaries by Fischer were often humorous, and the material flowed in easygoing, spontaneous fashion.

Roving from bossa nova (Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Amor em Paz”) to originals (Fischer’s “Melina do Rio”) to a gutsy, climactic blues, the music was a marvel of subtle interaction. Alternately tender and wistful, spirited and effervescent, it was the product of two immensely talented artists finding ways to link their imaginative improvisational notions.


Delmiro, though not being especially well known in this country, has been active since the late ‘60s in Brazil, recording with everyone from Sarah Vaughan and Elis Regina to Michael Franks and Charlie Haden. Matching a sensitive single line touch with rich harmonic clusters and a subtly driving, samba-tinged sense of rhythm, he was equally articulate with the twists and turns of the blues.

Fischer played electronic keyboards, favoring their malleable volume and timbre for Brazilian music. Soloing with the structured craftsmanship of a composer, he was equally impressive in his accompaniment. On “Memories of You,” for example, he underscored Delmiro’s line with a flowing series of chords, their dense but supple harmonies adding an atmospheric carpet of sound.

The performance’s symbiosis and its intimate musicality embraced the audience as well. Responding with enthusiasm that belied its relatively small size, the crowd became part of the process, interacting occasionally with the players, helping to create the lovely ambience of an evening of music among friends.

* Clare Fischer and Helio Delmiro, “Symbiosis,” at the Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave. Tonight at 8 and 9:30. $18. (310) 271-9039.