“There is no one like the Assads in the world of music for either the scope of their interests or the depth or the musicianship or technical abilities.”
The Los Angeles Times
“They aren’t just soloists but a two-man, multi-voice band of soloists who play instinctively well together with consistent rhythmic intuition and soul.”
The Calgary Herald
“The power and attractiveness of “traditional” Brazilian music was hypnotic, especially in the brilliantly conceived duo textures….While there were two guitars, most the pieces sounded as if they were performed on one giant guitar with expanded possibilities.”
San Francisco Classical Voice
“Sergio and Odair Assad have moved audiences and inspired guitarists around the world for over 30 years with revelatory performances of Latin American music and European classics, original compositions, deep musicality, and supple, almost telepathic, guitar duo performances.”
The Washington Post
As performers, these two play like the close brothers they are. They pick up instantly on the other’s cues, respond as if intuitively and seem to be wired into the same operating system. What’s projected is a sort of ‘uber-guitar,’ two instruments and one brain.”
Brazilian-born brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad have created a new standard of guitar innovation, ingenuity and expression. Their exceptional artistry and uncanny ensemble-playing come from a family rich in Brazilian musical tradition and studies under guitarist/lutenist Monina Távora, a disciple of Andrés Segovia. Their virtuosity has inspired a wide range of composers to write for them including Astor Piazzolla, Terry Riley, Radamés Gnattali, Marlos Nobre, Nikita Koshkin, Roland Dyens, Jorge Morel, Edino Krieger, and Francisco Mignone. Sérgio Assad has added to their repertoire by composing music for the duo and for various musical partners both with symphony orchestra and in recitals. They have worked extensively with such renowned artists as Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Gidon Kremer and Dawn Upshaw. Odair is based in Brussels where he teaches at Ecole Supérieure des Arts, while Sérgio resides in San Francisco where he is on the faculty of the SF Conservatory.
The Assad Brothers began playing together at an early age and their international career began with a major prize at the 1979 Young Artists Competition in Bratislava. Their repertoire explores folk, jazz and various styles of Latin music. Their classical repertoire includes transcriptions of the great Baroque keyboard literature of Bach, Rameau, and Scarlatti and adaptations of works by Gershwin, Ginastera, and Debussy; thus making their touring programs a compelling blend of styles, periods and cultures.
They have collaborated with such notable orchestras as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the orchestras of São Paulo and Seattle, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
In 2004, Sérgio and Odair arranged a special tour featuring three generations of the Assad family including their father, Jorge Assad [1924-2011], on the mandolin and the voice of their mother, Angelina Assad. GHA Records released a live recording and a DVD of the Assad family live at Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts. In 2009 they were featured performers on James Newton Howard’s soundtrack to the movie Duplicity. In the 2011 and 2012, the brothers toured a project entitled “De Volta as Raizes” (Back to Our Roots) with Lebanese-American singer Christiane Karam, percussionist Jamey Haddad, and composer/pianist Clarice Assad. Also that season Sérgio Assad premiered his concerto “Phases” with the Seattle Symphony and was nominated for two Latin Classical Grammys for his works “Interchange” and “Maraeaipe.”
Other recent touring projects include a reunion of the Assad Family in Qatar and across Europe with a finale at Le Palais des Beaux Arts, a tour and recording with Paquito D’Rivera called “Dances from the New World,” and a tour with jazz guitarist Romero Lubambo. In 2015-2016 they have been on tour with Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians from the Silkroad Ensemble.
The Assads have made a number of recordings on Nonesuch and GHA including Sérgio and Odair Assad Play Piazzolla and Jardim Abandonado, which both received Latin Grammys. They recorded Obrigado Brazil with Yo-Yo Ma with Sérgio arranging several of the works and were featured on Yo-Yo Ma’s chart topping release, Songs of Joy & Peace, alongside other guests as diverse as James Taylor and Dave Brubeck. Both recordings won Grammy awards.
In 2015, Sérgio and Odair celebrated their 50th anniversary as a duo. Their first ever performance together was in the fall of 1965 on a Brazilian television show called Boussaude. The celebration included a 27-city tour in Brazil followed by ten more in North America, highlighted at the 92nd Street Y in New York. The Guitar Foundation of America awarded the brothers with its Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2015.