Choro is a Brazilian music style, very popular in the 1920s and 1930s, but still popular nowadays. This blog wants to share our passion for this music and its musicians like Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim and Garoto, but also the contemporary generation of young talented musicans like Yamandú Costa.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Tem Sanfona no Choro
The accordion is a popular instrument in Brazil and is often closely associated with the Northeastern forró music, a sort of popular folk-music combining and mixing different European dance styles like the polka, mazurka, schottische, and quadrille a.o. with African rhythmic influence, traditionally performed by a forró trio with the accordion (- or as the instrument is named in Brazil: Sanfona) as melodic lead-voice, the triangel and the zabumba (bass) drum as supporting rhythmic accompaniment. An important figure in the evolvment of the forró and the spreading of the music to other parts of Brazil was the accordionist, vocalist, songwriter and composer Luiz Gonzaga.
Luiz Gonzaga do Nascimento, Sr.("Gonzagão", 1912-1989) was born in the countryside of Pernambuco as the son of a peasant and accordion player. As a child he was soon attracted by music and the accordion, he accompanied his father by playing the zabumba and singing at parties and religious celebrations.In 1930 he left home to join the army and toured Brazil with an army band until 1939. Gonzaga then decided to remain in Rio de Janeiro with a recently purchased accordion. He used to perform popular music of the time in the streets and in bars, and after noticing that the Northeastern immigrants missed the music from their hometowns, he started to play the kind of music he knew well from his younger days in Pernambuco. At a talent-show he played examples of this Northeastern music and was acclaimed by the audience and won the contest.After discovering this niche in the market, Gonzaga became a regular at radio shows and started making records. In 1943, he dressed up in typical Northeastern costumes for the first time to perform live, and got hyped. Later on, as well as playing popular tunes on the accordion, he began to sing his own material. His greatest hit ever, "Asa Branca" (written with Humberto Teixeira), was recorded in 1947 and covered countless times by many different artists.
Gonzaga worked on the radio until 1954, enjoying huge popularity. He is widely recognized for singlehandedly taking the baião style and the accordion to a wide audience. Gonzaga is often mentioned as the King of baião, here's his prototype of the baião, a smash-hit of the late 1940s
During the 1960s, as the public taste shifted, Gonzaga found himself stranded from big city stages, so he toured the countryside, where his popularity never abated. In the 1970s and 1980s, he slowly re-emerged, partly due to covers of his songs by famous artists like Geraldo Vandré, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, his son Gonzaguinha and Milton Nascimento. - In 2012 the Centennial of Luiz Gonzaga was celebrated all over Brazil through new recordings, events and concerts by contemporary artists, records by the master himself were reissued and his music was studied and appreciated by a new generation. Among the many activities paying homage to the importance of Luiz Gonzaga in
Brazilian popular music, I like to point you to a recently released CD that celebrates Gonzaga's contributions to choro, a music genre and style he knew well and also excelled in during his early career in the 1940s.
The CD is recorded by Marcelo Caldi (b 1980, Rio de Janeiro), a musician, composer, accordionist, pianist, arranger, orchestrator and Brazilian singer, who has released several CDs already documenting a wide range of different music influence from the Argentine tango to choral works. As an instrumentalist and vocalist Marcelo Caldi has recorded and performed in a family trio named Libertango, and his work as an accordionist in the forró and choro style was documented in the CD 'Forró e Choro Vol. 1' (2009, together with reed player Fábio Luna). The shown CD 'Tem Sanfona no Choro' (2012) continues to set focus on Marcelo Caldi's involvement with the accordion and
is solely dedicated to the music of Luiz Gonzaga showing off Gonzaga's early works in choro and related styles. The recorded music has also been transribed in a recently published book by Marcelo Caldi released by the Instituto Moreira Salles together with the accompanying cd, available for purchase here. - The music CD alone is available for purchase as mp3 download from Amazon and other online providers. You may learn more about Marcelo Caldi's career from hisofficial web (- in Portuguese only).
The shown CD contains thirteen tracks of delightful and most enjoyable accordion music, Marcelo Caldi has the lead-voice throughout and is accompanied by a rhythm section consisting of bandolim or cavaco, violão 7 cordas and percussion, one of the tracks have piano overdub and another has alto sax added as second lead. To give you an impression of Marcelo Caldi's renditions of Gonzaga's works in the choro style, I'll insert a couple of videos uploaded at YouTube presenting some of the music at the 'Tem Sanfona no Choro' cd. - Here's first Marcelo Caldi performing Gonzaga's choro "Pisa de Mansinho", Caldi is accompanied by Nando Duarte (violão 7 cordas) and Fabiano Salek (percussion) from a presentation at Sala Funarte Sidney Müller, Rio de Janeiro, February 2012
From the same performance, here's a reading of Gonzaga's "Araponga"
From a presentation earlier this year, Marcelo Caldi performed as lead artist together with Conjunto Época de Ouro also at the Sala Funarte Sidney Müller, Rio de Janeiro, one of the tunes played and uploaded at YouTube was Gonzaga's "Sanfonando", also available on the CD. Enjoy!
Choro should be experienced live. The atmosphere of a roda de choro or a choro live-performance in concert supports the original intension of choro and reveals its true spirit as an artform that pays attention to both the actual setting of the performance and to the long tradition of practise. As a consequence, a live-recording of a choro performance has the opportunity to produce a successful musical output that preserves the event for posterity. I found an excellent example of this after listening to the shown CD, 'No Salão do Barbeiro'.
The CD was recorded in February 2011 during a concert at Itaú Cultural (SP) presenting music composed by Zé Barbeiro, violão 7 cordas ace and a well-known figure in choro circles of São Paulo. The concert was organised as part of the 'Projeto Rumos' that was awarded by the Itaú Cultural Project Direction and opened the opportunity of a recording of the presented music. The CD has 14 tracks recorded live at the concert, and the participating musicians are besides Zé Barbeiro: Rodrigo Y Castro (flute), Alexandre Ribeiro (clarinet), Leo Rodrigues (percussion), Fabricio Rosil cavaquinho), Cleber Silveira (accordeon), Edu Malta (el-bass) and Giba Favery (drums). The presented music sets focus on modern and danceable choro in the gafieira tradition, and the CD has captured the light atmosphere of the concert and documents a successful show thanks to the great work by all involved. - You have the opportunity to listen to the cd in full length at Rádio UOL, here- The CD is available for purchase in mp3 format here
As mentioned, Zé Barbeiro (b 1952) is the composer of the presented music. He is self-taught on violão 7 cordas and started his musical career during the 1970s in between his dayjob as a barber. He has taken part in several choro and samba events and was a member of the ensembles Nosso Choro and Choro Rasgado besides having contributed to the Panorama do Choro Contemporâneo Paulistanos project and further has accompanied other contemporary artists like Alessandro Penezzi, Danilo Brito and Yamandú Costa in concert and live performance. - Zé Barbeiro has won awards for his work as a composer and has released three CDs in his own name documenting a selection of his more than 200 compositions mainly in the modern choro tradition.- More info on Zé Barbeiro's career to be found at his official web (- in Portuguese only), here
At YouTube there is uploaded several videos recorded at the 'No Salão do Barbeiro' concert, here's an example documenting an excellent show and a great live-recording also preserved at the CD issue. The opening title of the CD is the composition 'Juntando os Cacos', here performed by Zé Barbeiro and his musicians - enjoy!
Choro is a unique Brazilian music, at times it was closely associated with a national identity. Often choro was
promoted and supported in official Brazilian cultural programs to emphasize the nation's unity.This policy may have contributed to save choro from oblivion through its long story and further prevented cultural influences from
especially the U.S.A. eradicating the character of Brazilian music culture. However, although choro musicians
always remained faithful to the virtues of choro, influence from outside Brazil gradually helped to evolve the
music, albeit this aspect often caused controverse with defenders of choro as a pure Brazilian artform. In the
1920s, i.e. Pixinguinhaand his Oito Batutas were accused of using American jazz insturments (- mainly the
saxophone) and importing a jazz influence on choro after their stay in Paris, which for several years made it a
tough job for Pixinguinha to stay in business and perhaps was one of his main reasons to dissolve his
internationally successful group. Like in the U.S.A., where jazz from time to time has been met with racial
prejudice, choro musicians in Brazil have had to fight back prejudices of the character of their music and the way
it should be performed properly.
Like choro, jazz was originally a regional music. Jazz originated in New Orleans around 1900 and soon spread all
over the U.S.A. and was exported to the rest of the world through records, broadcasts, films and touring musicians
bringing with them various perceptions of the music reflecting the ever changing fashions of the time: from ragtime to dixieland to swing, be bop and free improvisational expression. After WW2 ended and during the 1950s and 1960s, the US government launched an ambitious cultural program disseminating knowledge of American culture worldwide to underpin mutual understanding among nations.A selection of this program also involved and supported jazz and its most popular practitioners in the U.S.A. As a result of this, Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong - the icon of jazz then - was chosen officially to represent American jazz worldwide. Armstrong was elected 'Ambassador Satch' and was sent on tour around the world with his All Stars to play concerts for people everywhere, this way helping to spread knowledge about an original American artform.
During his trip to South America in 1957 Armstrong also visited Brazil in November that year, and the photo above
showing Armstrong and Pixinguinha as good friends is shot at one of the arranged meetings with important Brazilian
composers and musicians. Another official photo from this tour of Brazil shows Armstrong in company with the
President of the Nation, Juscelino Kubitschek, Pixinguinha and Dorival Caymmi.
Armstrong and his All Stars played several concerts around Brazil, one of the most successful was performed in São
Paulo at Ibirapuera gymnasium. The concert was broadcasted live on TV as one of the first transmitted live shows at the TV Record channel. I don't know, if part of this live-broadcast has been saved on film, but to give you an
impression of the kind of shows Armstrong and his All Stars played during his job as 'Ambassador Satch', here's a
TV presentation from this period showing Armstrong and his musicians performing 'When The Saints Go Marchin' In'
In 2010 there was arranged a concert in São Paulo to celebrate the encounter of Louis Armstrong and Pixinguinha,
'Quando o Jazz encontra o choro'. The concert had participation of renown choro musicians paying homage to the two
icons of jazz and choro.A couple of videos from the event have been uploaded at YouTube, here is first a
performance of Pixinguinha's 'Mundo Melhor' sung by vocalist Maria Rita accompanied by Hamilton de Holanda and
A live concert celebrating Pixinguinha most often includes a performance of 'Carinhoso', here it was performed by
Maria Rita and Ney Matogrosso singing the lyrics accompanied by Hamilton de Holanda and the band.
The finale of the concert had an extended version of Pixinguinha's 'Urubu malandro' - a composition first made
famous by Pixinguinha's Oito Batutas. The improvisational skills of the participating musicians in this finale
remind of a jam session typically in jazz performance - and choro. Unfortunately, the filmed video has rather bad
footage, but the sound is o.k., I think.
Announcement: Escola Portátil de Música Holanda Starts New Courses.
If you are a musician - beginner or established - living in The Netherlands and interested in learning to play choro and samba, now you have a chance to join courses at the Escola Portátil de Música Holanda, which was established last year as a branch of the Cariocan organisation (est.in 2000 by famous choro musicians like Maurico
Carrilho and Luciana Rabello a.o.). Read more about terms and conditions at the website of Escola Portátil de Musica Holanda, click logo below.
The editors of the choro-music blog wish our readersA Happy New Year/um feliz ano novo 2013 and thank you for your interest and support in 2012! The last blog entry in 2012 likes to point you to some important items released earlier this year, a review will be published later, the following may be considered just a small teaser.
In September Jorge Carvalho de Mello's long awaited book on Garoto,'Gente Humilde - Vida e música de Garoto', was published by Edições SESC SP. This work is a result of de Mello's research that has opened access to previously unavailable material including Garoto's own diary revealing new aspects of his life and career. The book is based on the series of articles by de Mello published at the Sovaco de cobra website as 'O cancioneiro de Garoto'. A review (- in Portuguese) of this essential work is available here and the book can be purchased online here.
The great bandolinistaDudu Maia has been touring with his present Trio Brasileiro both in Brazil and abroad. Besides Dudu Maia on 10 string bandolim the trio consists of Douglas Lora on violão 7 cordas and Alexandre Lora on pandeiro and percussion. Earlier this year the trio released their first self-produced cd, 'Simples Assim'.
containing thirteen excellent tracks of choro and related music. - To give you an impresseion of the music performed at the cd, here is an uploaded video featuring Trio Brasileiro playing 'Saruê Bengala', a composition by Dudu Maia and the opening track of the cd - enjoy!
The cd is available for purchase in the mp3 format here
These three happy persons, left to right, are André Ribeiro (bandolim),Priscilla Matos (piano) and Roberto Amaral (pandeiro), who formated the Conjunto Subindo A Ladeira, another great Brazilian trio excelling in choro. The trio released their first cd, 'De Trés em Trés', earlier this year, the disc contains excellent compositions by Priscilla Matos and André Ribeiro reflecting the classic choro repertoire and drawing inspiration from Chiquinha Gonzaga, Ernesto Nazareth, Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim a.o..
The cd is available for purchase in mp3here.
Here is a recorded live-performance from the release concert of the trio's cd, the tune played is a composition titled 'Maxixe do Vovô' - enjoy!
The last item to wet you teeth is the new cd by Choro das 3, 'Escorregando', released in October this year and the second outing by this talented and successful, young trio from the São Paulo state.
The cd has 14 tracks of delightful choro including a couple of selfcomposed works, everything very well produced and excecuted.Corina (flute, 24),Elisa (bandolim and clarinet, 19) and Lia(violão 7 cordas, 22) are accompanied by their father on pandeiro and invited guests in a repertoire and performance that reflects the heart and core of choro tradition. The cd may be purchased in mp3 formathere.
The release of the Escorregando cd was celebrated in a concert at the Cultura Inglesa São Paulo - SP, the concert was recorded on video and is available here.
Earlier this year Choro das 3 was on tour in the USA, here's a recorded fragment from the trio's performance in Woods Hole, MA, 9.2.2012 - enjoy!
--- A Happy New Year - Um feliz ano novo 2013! --- Jo
The cavaquinho is a regular standard instrument in Brasilian choro and samba ensembles as well as in other musical contexts. Usually, the cavaquinho is not exposed as a lead voice, the small guitar shaped instrument is most often used as part of a rhythm section. However, the cavaquinho has also been treated with success as a lead instrument by great musicians like Garoto, Waldir Azevedo, Henrique Cazes, Luciana Rabello a.o..In the young generation of gifted Brasilian musicians, João Paulo Albertim stands out as a master of the cavaquinho, who combines his skills
as an excellent instrumentalist with composing and arranging music that integrates various musical genres and timbres of the North East of Brazil.
João Paulo Albertim (b 1985) is from Recife, Pernambuco. He had his first instrument, a cavaquinho, at 13 and later started his formal education in music at the conservatory of Recife with guidance by Professor Marco César.During his training at the conservatory he evolved his skills as a cavaquinho player and had the bandola (- a kind of loud bandolim) as his second instrument.He also started composing and arranging and has taken part in various musical projects that have included recording with other local musicians besides being a member of various ensembles excelling in Pernambuco's rich music traditions. Earlier this year, João Paulo Albertim has released his first recordings under his own name - João Paulo Albertim Toca Pernambuco.
The design of this project with the musical direction of conductor Marco César was to demonstrate the possibilities of timbre combinations and stimulate integration and fusion of musical genres and rhythms of Pernambuco not much known in the repertoire for cavaquinho. The music contains examples of baião, xote, forró, frevo da rua, caboclinho a.o. and the production has lasted about two years involving the participation of many people with different background and compositions made available by João Paulo Albertim as well as other local musicians and composers. The project that highlights the cavaquinho in various musical constellations is released on cd and there are 13 tracks of exciting, delightful and well produced music to listen to. However, the actual cd is hard to find, instead you have the opportunity to listen to all tracks in full length at Sound Cloud, here. You can also listen to some of the tracks at João Paulo Albertim's blog and find more info about the artist (- in Portuguese only). - To give you an impression of the music played by João Paulo Albertim I'll insert some studio performances uploaded at YouTube. Here is first the title track of the project,'Toca Pernambuco', João Paulo is accompanied by his present regular ensemble named Galho Seco after a composition by the legendary cavaquinho player Jacaré
Next, here is a studio recording of 'A Banda no Frevo', a composition by Marco César and with arranging and participation by saxophonist and bandleader Spok
Finally, to end this small presentation of João Paulo Albertim, here is his tip-of-the hat to Waldir Azevedo and his famous composition 'Brasileirinho' accompanied by Galho Seco