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April 2020 Boo Marambá

April’s track is Boo Marambá, a traditional Brazilian lullaby arranged and played by Alex De Grassi from his 1996 album “Beyond the Night Sky, Lullabies for Guitar” From the mid 70’s to mid 80’s, my then tiny shop was tucked away in the basement of Tupper and Reed, a fine full service music store in downtown Berkeley whose tenure lasted almost a hundred years. In 1984 I got a call from Alex asking to come in and try one of my classical guitars. I was familiar with his name and the Windham Hill label, but had yet to hear his playing. However, I liked him right away, friendly and interested in the craft and my work. When he tried the guitar, he didn't use standard classical position, or play any of the classical or Latin American repertoire, but immediately started to explore the instrument’s tonal landscape, pulling out the kind of sounds I was most proud of having put there, but was certainly not capable of producing myself. After a bit he stopped and said “This is a really unique sounding instrument. The only guitar I've ever played that sounds like this was one by Jeff Elliott in Portland. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Jeff and I apprenticed under the same maestro, Richard Schneider, had run a repair shop together in Detroit during and after our study with Richard, and drove a 24’ U-Haul from Detroit to the West Coast when we relocated to Oregon and California respectively. We've remained close friends since, and although the physical designs of our work differ, our feelings about what makes a fine concert guitar have remained closely aligned. He had more experience than I when we met and significantly informed my craft when we worked together. I was and would be honored to have my work remind someone of his. Alex went home with the guitar that day. I vividly remember how he was able to connect the spirits of two makers after playing their instruments months and miles apart. Learn about Alex’s new album, teaching publications, and his upcoming Mendocino workshop here:


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