E.Nazareth, For Dancers Only!

Ever since the music of Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934) was introduced to an American and international public with a helping hand from Disney and Zé Carioca in cartoons of the 1940s as pointed out by Daniella Thompson in an article, it was soon swallowed up by the pop-industry outside Brazil to make it digestable for a mainstream audience devoting its tastes to light entertainment, dance and an Americanized understanding of Brasilian culture. Only in recent years another understanding and appreciation of Nazareth's works is beginning to unearth, mainly thanks to great initiatives taken by ragtime societies in the US, ChoroMusic.com and, not least, the magnificient work directed by the Brasilian researcher and pianist, Alexandre Dias, who by now has published the result of his research in an official website devoted to the works of E. Nazareth including free access to all 218 registered scores in a revised version, a milestone in preserving this musical heritage for future generations. The website is definitely worth a visit for serious followers of Nazareth and can be launched here.

However, like choro musicians were among the first to embrace the music of E. Nazareth and make it a part of the standard repertoire at rodas, in radio and recording sessions thus spreading it to the public all over Brazil, it is also of historical importance to remember and recognise how this music was received and percieved by the music scene outside Brazil. Among the renown ambassordors in spreading the music of Nazareth to a larger public through performance, recordings and participation in movies was bandleader Edmundo Ros and His Rumba Band,during the 1940s and 1950s a highly popular ensemble of the time. I found a couple of examples on YouTube featuring the audiotracks of compositions by E.Nazareth as interpretated by Edmundo Ros and His Rumba Band - the first features 'Apanhei-te cavaquinho' as recorded in 1945, enjoy!

Here's a recording from about the same time of Nazareth's maxixe-tango, "Dengoso"

The lasting quality of the music performed by musicians like Edmundo Ros and His Rumba Band depends on the ability of such bands to make the output danceable. And if you don't think that it's possible to dance to the music of E. Nazareth after listening to the video-tracks above, let Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers show you how it's done:

A Feliz Ano Novo - A Happy New Year 2010! to readers of this blog, that counts its entry no 200 since June 2006.


Naquele Tempo - Roland Dyens plays Pixinguinha

The importance of the music of Pixinguinha (1898-1973) cannot be overestimated, his works as a musician, composer and arranger continue to inspire musicians worldwide. Choro ensembles were the first to embrace the music of Pixinguinha, which is not so strange, as Pixinguinha redefined the choro and had a lasting impact on the conception of the genre through his compositions and recorded legacy. Pixinguinha is the founder of the choro as it is performed today, and both erudite and popular musicians have taken advantage of the guidelines drawn by the master. Villa-Lobos was a great admirer of Pixinguinha and so was Radamés Gnattali, and countless musicians, amateurs as well as erudite, have found a profound inspiration in his works. Here we'll concentrate on a new cd devoted to music composed by Pixinguinha and performed as a solo recital by classical guitarist Roland Dyens.

One of the qualities of Pixinguinha's music is his choice of simple, beautiful melodies reflecting a classical conception of harmony and arranged with a multi-layered understanding of instrumental voices, and then add to this the always sensible rhythmic pulse of African origins that makes the output a sparkling and swinging affair when performed as intended by the composer. The music of Pixinguinha is a challenge to perform as a soloist, whatever the instrument chosen; it demands complete understanding and demand of the instrument's range to cover all nuances. When it comes to performing Pixinguinha's music on the guitar/violão in a solo recital, the shown cd above comes close to the perfect match. Roland Dyens has a done a magnificent work transcribing 11 of Pixinguinha's compositions for solo guitar, and the performance of the recorded pieces is marvellous, a brillant excersise that captures the soul of the music and draws the attention of the listener. The cd is highly recommended to everyone with an open ear for the possibilities of the classical solo guitar, a great experience that makes repeated listening a simple 'must' to explore nuances further. Roland Dyens shows off a contempory understanding of Pixinguinha's music, that never neglects the intention of the composer, but completes it in a perfectly excecuted recital recorded in high quality audio by GSP. - Learn more about the contents of the cd by clicking cd-cover above or here

Roland Dyens (b.1955 in Tunisia) is a Tunisian-French classical guitarist, composer, and arranger. Dyens studied guitar with the Spanish master guitarist Alberto Ponce and analysis with Désiré Dondeyne. He has won several prizes in competitions for classical guitar performance as well as for composition. As a performer, Dyens is known for his extraordinary capacity for improvisation. His guitar music draws on many elements of folk music and jazz, and has become popular with other players. Learn more about Roland Dyens at his official web-site, click here

A more extensive review of the cd 'Naquele Tempo' is found here

'Tango en Skaï (1985), is probably the best-known piece composed by Roland Dyens, and as I did not find a video showing a perfomance by Dyens playing Pixinguinha I'll insert a performance of the mentioned 'Tango en Skai' to give you an opportunity to enjoy a remarkable modern master of the classical concert guitar

To end this, here's a performance of the well known tango 'El Choclo' as arranged and played by Roland Dyens, enjoy!


De Bandolim a Bandolim

The bandolim is a popular instrument in Brazil and has obtained a major position as a solo voice in choro thanks to great instrumentists in the tradition from Luperce Miranda to Jacob Bittencourt (aka Jacob do Bandolim), and on the contemporary scene the position of the bandolim is maintained and kept up to date by stellar performers like Armandinho, Hamilton de Holanda, Danilo Brito a.o.. Jacob do Bandolim is generally considered the single most important agent in favour of recognising the instrument as a solo voice, his efforts in promoting the instrument and in collecting fitting repertoire of music are of enourmous importance in the still expanding popularity of the instrument. Among the many activities of historic notice maintained by Jacob do Bandolim was his co-oporation with composer Radamés Gnattali in arranging Gnattali's suite 'Retratos' for bandolim and symphonic orchestra documented in the important historic recording of the work in 1964 featuring Jacob do Bandolim as a soloist. The recording of 'Retratos' was an example of the fact that the boundaries between popular music traditionally connected with the bandolim, notably choro, and erudite, compositional work had dissolved, however, the boundaries were never as strictly pointed out in Brasilian culture as elsewhere and especially in European tradition. The aftermath of 'Retratos' meant that choro musicians extended their repertoire to include written music from the erudite compopositional tradition of works by both Brazilians and classical composers like J.S. Bach, Vivaldi and Chopin a.o.

One of the leading figures in this movement was bandolimist Joel Nascimento (b.1937), who founded the Camerata Carioca choro ensemble early 1970'ies with guidance by Radamés Gnattali. Nascimento persuaded Gnattali to arrange his 'Retratos' suite for a choro ensemble and surprised the maestro at a party by bringing in his Camerata Carioca ensemble to perform the re-arranged work, later Gnattali participated in the arranging and recording of a homage to the music of Jacob do Bandolim by Camerata Carioca (LP,1979). The Camerata Carioca ensemble and Radamés Gnattali also had a co-work on the project devoted to music by Vivaldi and Pixinguinha (LP,1980). Since the revival of choro dawned during the 1970s it is no longer unusual to find music by erudite, classical composers mixed with traditional choro works in the repertoire of contemporary choro ensembles. The new cd shown above featuring Hamilton de Holanda and Joel Nascimento reflects this tradition by mixing works by choro icons like Nazareth, Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim with compositions by J.S.Bach, Vivaldi and Beethoven in the repertoire of the disc, moreover the cd has a short piece by Radamés Gnattali documenting the importance of his music in contemporary Brasilian culture and in evolving the concept of choro containing both popular and erudite elements.

Last year Joel Nascimento and Hamilton de Holanda went into the studio to record the cd, 'De Bandolim a Bandolim', showcasing the bandolim and the tradition of mixing popular and erudite music. The result is a marvellous experiment documenting for the first time, I think, a duo recording of two bandolins in interplay without a back-up ensemble, further it is the first time Nascimento and Hamilton de Holanda have recorded together. The two musicians, however, know each other well, Hamilton was a student with Nascimento earlier, and this relation shines through and generates an intimate atmosphere in the set-up of the recording. Generally, Joel Nascimento takes the lead voice while Hamilton provides the accompaniment contributing chordal work, fill-ins and rhythmic support, but he is also given space in introducing of themes and gets a chance to show off his exceptional skills as an improviser with complete demand of his chosen instrument, the 10 string bandolim. The role of the two musicians' part in the game is not defined as a teacher-student combination as could be expected, rather it is the nature of the used instruments that defines the roles of both musicians. While Nascimento plays the conventional 8 string bandolim designed for playing lead, Hamilton's 10 string instrument provides the extended possibility of adding elaborate bass lines and complex accompaniment thanks to the two lower strings, thus, the musical possibilities of the instruments point out the appropiate set-up for interplay in the work by the duo.

The cd contains ten titles, four of which are from an erudite reperoire: 'Concerto Para Bandolim e Orquestra II Movimento' (Radamés Gnattali), 'Chorale Prelude 'Nun Komm der Heillan' Adagio' (J.S.Bach), 'Concerto Para 3 Bandolins em G II Movimento' (A.Vivaldi) with guest participation by Armandinho Macêdo to cover the three instruments score and finally 'Sonatina em C Menor' by Ludwig van Beethoven originally composed for piano and mandolin. The remaining titles cover pieces by Catulo da Paixão Cearense/Alfredo Dutra, 'Tu Passaste Por Este Jardim', a romantic theme introducing the cd. 'Gotas de Ouro' by Ernesto Nazareth, a famous waltz from the composer's book, further the choros 'Os Cinco Companheiros' by Pixinguinha and 'O Bom Filho á Casa Torna' by Bonfiglio de Oliveira. There is also a reading of the romantic yet complex 'Falta-Me Você' by Jacob do Bandolim and, surprisingly, a very lively rendition of the tango 'Por Una Cabeza' by Carlos Gardel/Alfredo Le Pere complete with rhythmic tapping on the bandolim box and elaborate improvisation of the theme by the duo. The fascinating mix of repertoire of the disc invites to repeated listening to digest the magnificent contributions by the duo, the cd is definitely designated to highlight the bandolim as a fitting instrument for chamber music of a high level and it is likely that the record may rank as the most important in the category of instrumental music released in Brazil in 2009. You have the opportunity to listen to the music in full length at Radio UOL, click picture of cd above or here to get access.
To end this small review of 'De Bandolim a Bandolim' I'll insert a couple of video fragments featuring Joel Nascimento and Hamilton de Holanda performing together during a studio recording of the dvd-project "Ao Jacob, seus Bandolins". - The first fragment is a performance of Jacob do Bandolim's 'Alvorada', the bandolinists are accompanied by Rogério Caetano on violão 7 cordas - enjoy!

From the same studio sessions as above, here's an improvised rendition of Jacob do Bandolim's 'Noites Cariocas' - enjoy!


Solo Accordion & Choro

The accordion is a popular instrument often used in various Brazilian music styles, notably in forró and baião, but it has also been used with success in bossa nova and choro. When national radio broadcasting of live music acts started in Brazil during the 1930, the staff of musicians often had an accordionist among its members to supply solo voice and accompaniment in interplay with string instruments and reeds of the ensemble accompanying popular singers and playing choros and waltzes during intermission. Renown accordionists like Orlando Silveira, Chiquinho do Acordeon (Romeu Seibel) and Sivuca all started their career as members of a radio regional, the accompanying music ensemble used during radio transmission of live music, and the same set-up was also used by the record industry to promote popular vocalists and stars from radio. The popular choro 'Tico-tico no fubá' by Zequinha de Abreu was first recorded in 1930 by a typical regional, Orquestra Colbaz, that had an accomplished accordionist in front playing the melody, and following the world success of the tune it was soon adopted by accordionists as part of the standard repertoire. - I found an excellent solo version of 'Tico-tico no fubá' to illustrate the range of the instrument when playing choro. Enjoy Dorival Pinhata's solo accordion in 'Tico-tico no fubá'

The accordion - or as it is also named in Brazil: the sanfona - is well suited for playing solo, like the piano the accordion allows applying chord accompaniment in the left hand while playing the melody with the right. Here's another example of a solo accordionist playing choro applying modern harmony to the well know 'Lamentos' by Pixinguinha. Enjoy Olivio Filho's rendition of 'Lamentos'

In the studio group used by Jacob do Bandolim for recording sessions during the 1950s one of the accompanying musicians was an accordionist (- from time to time it was Orlando Silveira), who also had a solo spot on one of Jacob's hits, 'Doce de coco', from this period. Here's a contemporary version of 'Doce de coco' as performed by accordionist Chico Chagas accompanied by Nando Duarte on violão de 7 cordas - enjoy!

As mentioned above the accordion - or the sanfona - is used in different music styles all over Brazil. Especially the various North Eastern genres of music from the Pernambuco and Bahia regions are closely connected with the accordion. However, choro also blends in the repertoire of accordionists from this part of the country, here's an example of a master of the forró tradition, Oswaldinho do Acordeon, playing choro

One of the master accordionists known outside Brazil is Sivuca (- from Paraíba, Pernambuco), who excelled in various local genres as well as choro, bossa nova and even jazz. To end this small contribution enjoy Sivuca alone on stage performing his virtuosic version of 'Quando me Lembro', a typically North Eastern flavoured composition


Paola Picherzky, 18 Choros de Armando Neves

In the vast Brasilian repertoire composed for the solo violão the works of Armandinho (Armando Neves, 1902-1976) stand out as exemplary samples of music that evolve the choro in a most suitable way for the instrument and with a conception of harmony and melody reflecting both nostalgia and modernism. Like the compositions of João Pernambuco the works of Armandinho have been almost unknwon by the public for decades. The cd shown above, however, reestablish Armandinho among the great composers of choros for the solo violão containing 18 examples of his works within the genre as arranged and played by Paola Picherzky.

Paola Picherzky, who is a member of the higly estimated erudite guitar quartet Quaternaglia since 2007 and a professor of the violão at the Faculdade de Música Santa Marcelina, São Paulo, has researched and transcribed Armandinho's choros for solo violão, and the recorded 18 examples are extremely well executed and a sheer pleasure to be listening to, very balanced and further a top audio quality production - a highly recommended cd that finally may open the ears of the public for the music of Armando Neves. Click on picture of cd to see tracklist and learn more about Paola Picherzky from profile at MySpace and from the website of Quaternaglia.

Armando Neves (Armandinho) (1902-1976) is one of the most important figures of choro developed in the city of São Paulo. Learning to play the violão by ear, he never learned music theory. Initially a soccer player, he worked as a professional for Ponte Preta and Guarani. When he switched to the Corinthians he was relocated to the city of São Paulo, and in 1919 abandoned soccer. In that city, he studied violão with his brothers, José Matoso and Joaquim Matoso, and in 1926 with Larosa Sobrinho. Musically illiterate, his gifted intuition allowed him to write sophisticated compositions.

In 1926, Sobrinho took him to Rádio Educadora Paulista, where Armandinho formed the first regional of the city of São Paulo. The group participated in the first radio broadcast between Rio and São Paulo that year. The next year, he joined 'Os Turunas Paulistas', a group led by violão virtuoso Canhoto (Américo Jacomino) who was considered the best of the period. In 1928, he performed with João Pernambuco, João dos Santos, Levino da Conceição, and others. In this year he assumed direction of the Rádio Record group, remaining there until 1956, a period when the radio enjoyed local projection. In 1930 he played for Paraguayan virtuoso violonista Agustin Barrios and recorded two 78 rpms through Parlophon with Larosa Sobrinho. An accomplished accompanist, Armandinho recorded just one solo album, a 78 for Decelith, in 1938.
(Info excerpted from a profile by Alvaro Neder in AMG)

To end this entry I insert three examples of choros composed by Armando Neves, here performed by Ovidiov, the first video featuring the best known of Neves' choros, 'Choro no 2'

The next choro performed by Ovidiov is 'Choro no 3' by Armando Neves

The final video this time features Ovidiov playing the choro 'Gurú' by Armandinho Neves -enjoy!


In Memoriam Jacob

Next week choro societies and choro musicians in Brazil and the rest of the world will commemorate the sad fact that it is 40 years since the passing away of Jacob Pick Bittencourt, aka Jacob do Bandolim (February 14, 1918 – August 13, 1969). Like Pixinguiha, Jacob do Bandolim has become an icon in the field of choro representing the best in this Brazilian music tradition. Jacob's achievements as a musician, composer and spokesman in favour of the virtues of the original music tradition in Brazil, notable the choro, are beyond the possibility of describing justly in a few words here. If you are new to choro and the tradition of this important musical field of Brazilian culture, one of the main figures representing these aspects in headlines certainly will be Jacob do Bandolim. A short biography and career profile is available by clicking here .

For extensive and detailed information on the legacy of Jacob do Bandolim I'll point serious readers to the website of Instituto Jacob do Bandolim that has maintained a magnificent work to preserve and inform about all relevant issues regarding Jacob (- in Portuguese only, unfortunately). - Another Brazilian resource web, Músicos do Brasil, also has detailed and relevant info on Jacob do Bandolim.

The obvious way to commemorate an artist like Jacob do Bandolim is to play his music, of course. I found an uploaded video at YouTube showing still photos from the life and career of Jacob, the accompanying sound track includes Jacob's voice and the title track audio of his best selling album, "Vibrações" from 1967, featuring Jacob and Época do Ouro

Since Jacob's passing away choro has had a great revival in Brazil and countless musicians have refined their skills and drawn inspiration from the music of Jacob do Bandolim. Below I'll insert a couple of video fragments showing that the legacy of Jacob lives on and is taken good care of by devoted musicians. - First, here's a rendition of the choro "Diabinho Maluco" perfomed by Joel Nascimento - Bandolim; Maurício Carrilho - Violão 6 Cordas; Luiz Otávio Braga - Violão 7 Cordas; Jayme Moraes - Cavaquinho from a Brazilian TV program paying tribute to Jacob do Bandolim (- probably from the mid-1970s)

The most famous composition by Jacob do Bandolim probably is his "Noites Cariocas", here performed by Hamilton de Holanda (bandolim) from a live recording at Radio America recently

One of the great achievements by Jacob was to put the bandolim into the spotlight as a solo voice in choro, his recordings point listeners to the high level of performance demanded from both the soloist and the accompanying musicians. However, performers of other instruments than the bandolim also have drawn inspiration from the playing of Jacob. Here's an example of the young virtuoso of the violão, Alessandro Penezzi, performing Jacob's "Velhos Tempos" in great interplay with arranger and pianist, Laércio de Freitas, from a TV hommage to Jacob do Bandolim

Finally, as an amateur guitarist I was thrilled to view a solo guitar interpretation of Jacob's "Noites Cariocas" by Daniel Nikolas Wirtz from a live performance, a great arrangement and execution of the tune to end this small commemoration of Jacob do Bandolim


Guitar Works Of Garoto

Towards the end of his career and short life Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha, 1915-55) devoted his talents to composing music for the solo violão in between other works. Luckily, this material as performed by the artist himself has been documented through the private recordings made by Garoto's friend and admirer, Ronoel Simões, finally available on a cd issued 2006 by the German Chanterelle company (CHR 006) containing all of the recordings made between 1950 and 1954. You can read more about the cd here

In 1991 a cd by classical guitarist Paulo Bellinati was issued by the American GSP Recordings containing the guitar works of Garoto (GSP 1002), transcribed and performed by Bellinati in a most convincing production, highly recommended. The cd and the the transcription scores are still available from GSP Recordings and online retailers.

The guitar works of Garoto may be considered semi-classical contributions and have especially appealed to classical trained musicians thanks to the transcriptions in written music made available by Paulo Bellinati. I found some examples at YouTube documenting the fact that Garoto's guitar works are taken good care of and performed with due respect to Bellinati's transcriptions by classical guitarist Denian Arcoleo. Learn more about Denian Arcoleo from his official website, click here

The first example of Denian Arcoleo performing is Garoto's "Tristezas de um Violão", also known as Choro Triste No. 1

The next video features Deinian Arcoleo performing Garoto's "Meditação"

Finally, the last video this time has Denian Arcoleo performing Garoto's waltz "Naqueles Velhos Tempos" - enjoy!


Choro da Saudade - A Popular Classic

The Paraguayan composer and guitar virtuoso, Augustin Barrios Mangoré (1885-1944), is considered by many to be one of the greatist composers of 20th Century Latin America, although his works (- more than 300 compositions in various genres) only gained world famous recognition decades after his passing away. Thanks to the highly estimated English guitarist, John Williams, the guitar music compositions of Barrios finally were saved from oblivion and a selection of these were recorded by Williams in the mid-1970s. The record was issued by CBS and became a huge success with the public and established Barrios' name a place among the composers of the canon of classical guitar music repertoire. One of the compositions by Barrios recorded by John Williams was 'Choro da Saudade'. I found a video performance dated 1976 featuring Williams playing 'Choro da Saudade'

The composition is a choro, of course, the structure of the music has the form of a rondo - A, B, A, C, B, A. Note the main theme, A, keeps coming back to haunt, as in the feelings of yearning or lament. “Saudade” is a hard word to translate into English, it refers to nostalgia, or feelings of yearning, such as in homesickness - the inspiration expressed in the A-part. The first time the work was featured in a concert programme of Barrios was dated November 1929. The manuscript was written out by Barrios in 1929, dedicated to Americo Camargo, the son of a good friend who had died tragicly young. - The composition is notorious among guitarists for it’s long left hand stretches, many finding impossible to play. It may be that this piece is the first example of the hinge barre being used in classical guitar music. This is where the left hand barre stretches across the strings, but instead of being across fret one, the tip of the finger reaches to fret two. Thus enabling the hand to reach to higher positions. (info excerpted from article by Mark Antony at Guitar World )

Since John Williams recorded the piece in 1976 'Choro da Saudade' has become a challenging composition of the classical standard guitar book, as mentioned. You'll find various examples uploaded at YouTube of performances of the piece, some of them differ in interpretation of tempo and execution - not all classical trained guitarists have the same conception of the music. Anyway, to end this small contribution about this famous guitar composition I'll insert a video performance by a Brasilian artist - João Rabello, son of Paulinho da Viola, grandson of Cesar Faria and his uncle being the late Raphael Rabello. Learn more about João Rabello at his official web (- in Portuguese and English), click here

From a TV-program João Rabello performs "Choro da Saudade" - enjoy!


The Violão Tenor Dinâmico

According to several sources, Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha, 1915-55) introduced the tenor guitar in Brazil. Garoto had acquired a Triolian metal body 4 string tenor guitar similar to the one shown above, manufactured by the American National Instruments company, in 1933, but he was later to use a Brasilian made instrument of the same 'family', for which he is best known from numerous recordings during the 1930s and throughout his career, the Del Vechio tenor dinãmico.
This instrument was manufactured by the luthier Del Vechio of São Paulo from the mid-1930s and represents a modified issue of the American prototype. The biggest difference between the American and the Brasilian instrument is that the Triolian used steel for the body, while the Del Vechio body is made of wood. Both instruments have build in resonator 'cones' instead of the common sound hole, a kind of acoustic amplifying system, which aids in distributing the sound and makes it loud to the benefit of the musician playing in an ensemble of other instruments. The sound of the Del Vechio dinãmico is almost similar to the sound generated by a dobro and instantly recognisable. - Here's a video performance featuring a dobro that gets close to the sound:

Garoto may have been the first to use the Del Vechio tenor dinãmico in recordings and live performance, but he was soon followed by other musicians that would take advantage of the special sound generated by the instrument, a.o. Zé Menezes and Claudionor Cruz. But few professional musicians have devoted their talents entirely to the tenor dinãmico, an exception, however, was Álvaro Brochado. - Álvaro Brochado Hilsdorf (1923-1997) started his career playing violão, bandolim and the tenor banjo, but soon concentrated on the violão tenor and therefore was known as “Álvaro do Violão Tenor”. He worked as a staff musician at local radio stations (Rádio Jornal Primavera and Rádio Clube de Rio Claro), but was soon featured at radio networks in São Paulo and Rio as well after touring Brazil accompanying vocalist Euclides Alves. At one point he met with and became a friend of Garoto, which caused in a curious pact between the two musicians: The first of them to pass away would be honored by the other through a recording. In this way Àlvaro Brochado's first LP, Homenagem a “Garoto”, was initiated and recorded including a choro composition by Brochado paying homage to Garoto, "Exaltação a Garoto". Álvaro Brochado recorded several LPs and a couple of cds during his career, all of them devoted to his prefered instrument, the Del Vechio tenor dinãmico, and the traditional choros and waltzes by renown Brasilian composers besides selfcomposed pieces in the tradition. Learn more from the website dedicated to the legacy of Álvaro do Violão Tenor (- in Portuguese), click here

Unfortunately, none of the recordings by Álvaro Brochado seem to be commercially available today, and I have not found any video material featuring this artist. However, to end this entry I insert a couple of video fragments featuring the Del Vechio tenor dinãmico in action. The first is a re-up from a TV performance featuring a young Alessandro Penezzi with Conjunto Som Brasileiro playing "Numa Seresta", a choro by Luiz Americano

The last video this time is recorded earlier this year at Clube Do Choro De Londrina featuring Robertão ( Violão), Alberto ( Cavaquinho), Cabeção ( Violão Tenor). The music is the well known waltz by Dilermando Reis, "Se Ela Perguntar"


Danceable Music, Foxtrot Meets Choro

Entertainment has always had a demand for danceable music. 20th Century popular music has tried to connect with this demand creating various and changing dance patterns through different music styles - tango, maxixe, ragtime, charleston and fox-trot, to name but a few. With the introduction of ragtime around 1900 a new craze among the dancing public was born in the US - the originator of classic ragtime, Scott Joplin, was aware of this, one of his compositions, 'The Ragtime Dance - A Ragtime Two-Step' (1902), points to this and moreover has instruction of the appropiate steps included in the score.

The foxtrot is a ballroom dance which is often said to take its name from its inventor, the vaudeville actor Harry Fox; however the exact origins are unclear. At its inception, the foxtrot was originally danced to ragtime. Today, the dance is customarily accompanied by the same big band music to which swing is also danced. Here's a small demonstration of the foxtrot as danced in the 1920s

The foxtrot also reached Brazil and became a part of high society dancing events in the 1920s and even choro musicians had to cope with this new dancing style. It's an interesting fact that renown choro musicians like João Pernambuco actually made compositions that were labeled as 'foxtrot' - his 'Rosa Carioca' (recorded 1929) documents this. The tune as played by João Pernambuco accompanied by Zezinho is available during Fabio Zanon's program devoted to the music of João Pernambuco at Rádio Cultura, to be reached here

Another choro guitarist, Rogério Guimarães, also was inspired by the foxtrot and recorded his composition 'Uma noite na Urca' 1928 for Odeon, labeled as foxtrot. You can hear the music in streaming audio from Instituto Moreira Salles by clicking here

The foxtrot seems to have a long tradition among choro musicians, in 1955 Abel Ferraira recorded a choro , 'Acariciando', played in the danceable foxtrot style, you may listen to the audio by clicking here

To end this small entry, here's an entertaining vue of some of the various dances that emerged during 'The Roaring Twenties' - enjoy!


Choro Day

Next week the official Choro Day ( 23. April) will be celebrated all over Brazil and in other parts of the world, where choro is an integrated musical tradition of cultural events. Choro Day is also the celebration of Pixinguinha, the 23. April this year we'll commemorate the fact that it is Pixinguinha's 112th birthday. I suggest and encourage readers of this blog to look up info in the local media about events according Choro Day in your area. Unfortunately, none have been arranged at my place, but instead I found some video fragments at YouTube to get into the right mood for celebrating Choro Day and the music of Pixinguinha.
From a TV program I found a fragment featuring Déo Rian and Época de Ouro playing a couple of well known Pixinguinha compositions - the program is hosted by Paulinho da Viola and probably is recorded late 1960s or early 1970s

From a performance at the Villagio Café-SP last year here is a fragment featuring Danilo Brito (bandolim), Alessandro Penezzi (violão), Proveta (sax) a.o. playing Pixinguinha's 'Cochichando'

Finally, here's the historical video fragment featuring Pixinguinha himself accompanied by unidentified conjunto playing 'Carinhoso' - enjoy!


Lingua de Preto

One of the first recordings by Garoto that fascinated me was his 1949 recording of the classic choro 'Lingua de preto' composed by Honorino Lopes (1884-1909). The composer, Honorino Lopes, is rather unknown, he died 25 years old from tuberculosis, but is remembered for this particular choro that remains a part of the choro standard repertoire. Jacob do Bandolim as well as Benedito Lacerdo accompanied by Pixinguinha also recorded the tune in 1949. The choro was recorded for the first time between 1907 and 1912 by the Banda da Força Policial do Estado de São Paulo for the Odeon label and again in 1913 by the Banda da Casa Edison. None of these first recordings are available in the online discoteque at Instituto Moreia Salles. However, if you click your right mouse button, you have the opportunity to listen to the streaming audio of the mentioned recording by Garoto of 'Lingua de preto' here
As demonstrated in the streaming audio, Garoto plays the solo voice on violão tenor. Jacob do Bandolim's rendition features the bandolim as solo voice, of course. You may listen to the 1949 recording by Jacob do Bandolim using the same procedure as mentioned above clicking here
Here's a contemporary reading of 'Lingua de preto' performed by a choro ensemble from the conservatory of Pernambuco, cavaquinho is playing lead

Finally, from a roda de choro recently at the Bandolim de Ouro music shop in Rio da Janeiro featuring Bruno Rian playing the solo on bandolim


Choro & Ragtime

Ragtime is an American music style that emerged at around the same time as choro during the late decades of the XIX. Century. There are obvious similarities between ragtime and choro, both music styles draw from European music tradition and blend with Afro rhythm into a characteristic syncopated music form that evolved in two parallel directions. Musicologists have been aware of the similarities (- and differences) between ragtime and choro for quite some time, but just recently an attempt has been made to bring the two music traditions together.

The good people at ChoroMusic.com, headed by flutist Daniel Dalarossa, have prepared yet another interesting project, this time focusing on choro and ragtime. According to the extensive notes at the website of ChoroMusic.com the aim of the project has been to let a choro ensemble play typical ragtime pieces using the instruments commonly featured in a traditional choro group and adding choro rythm and improvisation to the music performed. I was pointed to the recorded music by a friend, who has downloaded the recorded 10 pieces offered for purchase at the ChoroMusic.com website, which also offers the written scores to be used by musicians who would like to learn and play along. The recorded ragtime pieces are played once as intended by the composer, second time through improvisation is added, generally spoken. The result is marvellous, if you like ragtime, the 'special touch' added by competent choro players brings a sparkling new life into both well known compositions by Scott Joplin as well as other ragtime composers. Even though you are not a musician, I recommend these joyful renditions of classic ragtime. Learn more about the participating musicians, scores and recorded music for purchase at ChoroMusic.com, click here

Scott Joplin (1868-1917) is generally recognised as one of the originators of the classic ragtime style, his compositions for piano - like the shown 'Maple Leaf Rag' (1899) - were popular in the US around 1900, the score of 'Maple Leaf Rag' sold in more than one million copies. The piano was the favoured instrument for home entertainment, thus, written scores for piano of popular music were in high demand. Recordings of original ragtime played by pianists were scarce as recording fascilities (- most often cylinders were used) prevented pianists to participate. Instead pianists were forced to rely on the reading abilities of other pianists to spread their compositions, although some of them also cut piano rolls to be used by mechanical player pianos. The mechanical sound of a player piano roll may have caused the deminising interest in ragtime, when recording possibilites became better through the phonogram discs. Anyway, it's a fact that ragtime had its heyday from 1900 to 1917, World War I seems to have moved the general interest in ragtime into other directions. There was a short revival during the 1950s thanks to a relived interest in dixieland jazz and its origins in ragtime, but it was not until the early 1970s a new craze for ragtime evolved, thanks to a very popular movie from 1972, 'The Sting', that featured soundtrack music of compositions by Scott Joplin, including notable ragtime pieces like 'The Entertainer', 'The Easy Winners' a.o.

Given the fact that most of classic ragtime is composed with the aim of being played by a piano it may seem a bit strange to have a string or wind ensemble playing the music. But as it happened with the compositions written by Ernesto Nazareth, string ensembles or even brass bands soon started playing this kind of popular music. In original recorded ragtime you'll find examples of full brass bands playing 'Maple Leaf Rag' and other Joplin pieces, but the most interesting renditions are those applied by banjo players accompanied by a piano or small string ensemble. The banjo was a novelty instrument at the time when ragtime emerged, and this fact may seem to be a part of the reason for quite a lot of recorded banjo ragtime from the heyday of the genre. Virtuosi like Vess Ossman and Fred van Eps (see picture) set the standard in this very demanding branch of playing the banjo, today only few people seem to have an interest in carrying on the torch. However, here's one, who gives it a fair try:

As it happend with choro also ragtime was absorbed by all sorts of musicians, erudite as well as self taught, during the process both musical forms evolved in different directions. Choro luckily survived and left a legacy of wonderful music kept alive to this day by devoted individuals. Ragtime has had its ups and downs, but maybe a new era is in sight thanks to ensembles like the one viewed here:

If you have become interested in listening to string ragtime, you may have an opportunity to join an event during August this year. The first Danish Folk, Blues & Ragtime Guitar Festival is scheduled from August 5h to 7th and features great string ragtime performes. Learn more from the festival's official website, click here


Stardust - A Meeting Of The Giants

What happens when choro musicians get together in an informal setting? They play together and exchange experience regarding their instruments and playing technique. This is not 'small talk', not even among famous and well known musicians with a stellar career. Why not? Because choro is a serious thing that has to be refined to be kept alive at its best, all the time. Keeping this virtue in mind does not exclude 'having fun' and learning from each other, the result often is magic when the participating musicians 'cut loose' and just play for their own enjoyment to the benefit of the music. This is the way 'stardust' is generated, and how lucky we are to have the chance to have a view of such a meeting of the giants, who know their stuff inside out.

Recently the young bandolim player of the Choro das 3, Elisa Meyer, met with Hamilton de Holanda and Mike Marshall informally, the event luckily was recorded. The first video features Elisa and Hamilton

The second video from the same event features Elisa and Mike Marshall - enjoy!


Carmen Miranda Centennial

This week Brazil is celebrating the centennial of singer, actress and moviestar, Carmen Miranda. - Maria do Carmo Miranda da Cunha was born on February 9, 1909, in Marco de Canavez, Portugal. Her familiy moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was about 2 years old. As a young woman she worked as a milliner. She was discovered at a talent show, and in 1929 she signed on with the Victor Recording Company.Her career was established throughout 1930s, she had success as a radio and recording artist, she was a star at the carnaval, became an actress taking part in movies and toured South America as a 'musical ambassador' for the Brazilian government. In 1939 she was offered a tour of the USA and with this step her second career was launched. Together with her Brazilian group of musicians, O Bando da Lua featuring Garoto, she was a sensation with the American public, and soon she was offered film work in Hollywood and, after moving to the USA, she became a celebrity and ranked among the highest paid artists in the country throughout the 1940s. She made several films in the USA, had success as an actress and also made recordings with her Bando da Lua, the first authentic Brazilian music including choros and sambas made digestable for an American audience. These recordings have since been reissued several times and are still worth listening to thanks to the charming voice of Carmen Miranda and the great accompaniment of her Banda do Lua.

Despite her official success with the public Carmen Miranda suffered from the stress as an Americanized Hollywood celebrity, she died of a heart attack on August the 5th, 1955. However, she'll forever be remembered as the prime icon of Brazilian music by the general public with little knowledge of the vast cultural heritage of Brazil. Carmen Miranda will remain 'The Lady with the tutti fruit hat' or the 'Brazilian Bombshell', so let's end this small commemoration enjoying Carmen in action with one of her greatest hits, 'Tico-tico no fúba', here in a sequence from her first Hollywood movie, 'Down Argentine Way' (1940):


Sounds From The Heart - Danilo Brito

Among the young generation of contemporary Brazilian artists devoting their talent and skills to choro, Danilo Brito stands out as an excellent example of a gifted musician, who knows his roots in the tradition and has contributed with splendid renditions of classic compositions by choro icons like Jacob do Bandolim, Chiquinha Gonzaga, Ernesto Nazareth and Pixinguinha as well as being a composer and arranger of his own material adding new dimensions to the choro standard repertoire.
Danilo Ezequiel Brito (b 1985) is from São Paulo, born into a musical family as the youngest of five children - his father, originally from the state of Paraíba in the Northeast of Brazil, was an active musician on the São Paulo music scene during the 1960s as a bandolimist. At an early age young Danilo started playing his father's bandolim and the cavaquinho, and it has been said that he at age five once surprised everyone by playing a sequence from the tune “Delicado”, by Waldir Azevedo, that he had learned on his own. At age eleven he lived for a year in Paraíba where he had the opportunity to improve his technique on both the bandolim and the cavaquinho, learning from friends of his family and having his debut in a live performance on a radio program. Back to São Paulo, he started to attend rodas de choro organized by various music shops dedicating his studies equally between the cavaquinho and the mandolin. He was still playing his father’s old bandolim when he got his first bandolim made by a luthier. From this point on, Danilo adopted the bandolim as his main instrument, always finding time to dedicate to it and to practice incessantly. Nevertheless, he never gave up playing the cavaquinho and he also started playing violão tenor. - Danilo was impressive not only because of his youth but also because of his superb technique with which he played valsas, choros, polkas, sambas and frevos. He began to receive invitations from celebrities and artists to perform and to give demonstrations of his talent and interviews to the press. He then started giving his first musical recitals on stage. The first time he played a solo performance was at UNIBAN (Bandeirantes University), along with the group Bachorando. Next step in his career was taken when he was offered the opportunity to record his first cd, shown above. The cd is a marvellous debut by a 13 year old kid supported by a classic choro ensemble, containing material by Jacob do Bandolim, Chiquinha Gonzaga a.o. besides a couple of examples of Danilo's own compositions. You may listen to the cd at full length on Rádio UOL by clicking here

In 2004 Danilo Brito entered and won the 7th annual VISA Awards for best instrumentalist on any instrument, one of the most important awards in Brazil – beating out 514 well-trained and skillful competitors. In winning the VISA Awards he gained the opportunity to record his secound cd, shown above. This second CD, entitled “Perambulando”, was released in 2005. Besides many traditional choro pieces, the CD contains some of his own compositions including the blistering "Sussuarana" as well as the title track. His tenor guitar work is featured on “Um Choro na Madrugada” and he has been highly praised for his interpretation of "Confidências", by choro pioneer Ernesto Nazareth. He is joined on several pieces by legendary musicians such as Altamiro Carrilho on flute, Toninho Ferragutti on accordion, and Nailor Profeta on clarinet. - The cd is still available and is highly recomended as a splendid example of Danilo Brito's great artistic skills.
Last year Danilo Brito recorded his third cd, "Sem Restrições", containing more examples of his own compositions as well as compositions by Alessandro Penezzi and Luperce Miranda. The cd was released in Brazil late 2008 and is available from online stores in Brazil, but I haven't had the opportunity to listen to it, yet. However, I found a filmed sequence from the live performance at the release concert, inserted below

Danilo Brito definitely belongs to the young heard of extraordinarily talented Brazilian musicians who deserve our full attention, he is a member of the masterclass of contemporary bandolimists like Hamilton de Holanda, Jorge Cardoso and Dudu Maia a.o.. I'm convinced that choro has a bright future ahead thanks to great talents like Danilo Brito. - Learn more about Danilo Brito from his official web (- in Portugues and English), click here

To end this small contribution I insert a couple of videos from a live performance in October 2008 featuring Danilo Brito and Rogério Caetano (violão 7 cordas) - here's a rendition of the classic choro "Espinha de Bacalhau"

Finally, here's the duo's interpretation of "Gostosinho" - enjoy!


Daniel Volovets

Love to point you to a young all-round US guitar player, who is fascinated by Brazilian music: Daniel Volovets.

The tune Delicado, a Waldir Azevedo composition, has been an inspiration for hunderds of guitar players all over the world. Jo wrote about this contribution

Thanks to this blog contribution I was contacted by a young guitar player Daniel Volovets, 16 years old, who sent me his version of this popular Brazilian choro-tune, I love to share with you.

Daniel Volovets lives in Minnesota (USA) and started to play the guitar at seven. Nowadays, ten years later, his repertoire contains classical guitar pieces, but also flamenco and Brazilian music. He studies the guitar with Anatoly
and Tony Hauser. The latter is well known for his interpretations of classical, flamenco, and Latin-American music. Now he's a student at the Minnesota University and the School of Music of Minnesota.

Daniel Volovets, who is also an expert in video-games, like the Nintendo-games, released, despite his young age, two albums: Melodias Brasileiras and Watercolors of the World. I can't tell you anything about his first 2006 album ( Melodias Brasileiras ) ( and that's a pity of course as the title suggests some great music) but his latest one contains guitar pieces from all over the world; from Brazil, Spain, Russia, and Italy. Daniel Volovets is fascinated by the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Paco de Lucia and Hermeto Pascoal. On this 2008 Watercolors of the World you can find several tracks related to Brasil composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim, like Quiet Night of Quiet Stars, Luiza, Wave and the well known One-Note Samba. Other well known tunes on this album are Luiz Bonfa's Manha de Carnaval. Most tracks, dedicated to Brasil on this album are samba's and bossa novas, but there is one Choro tune, titled Sons de Carrilhoes a Joao Pernambuco composition. If you click on that link you can hear a small fragment of it.

Love to share a fragment with you, although no Choro music, but a less known Carlos Jobim composition titled Andorinh and the well known Insensatez ( = How Insensitive ), also a well known jazz standard of the 1960s.

Keep swinging

Hans Koert