Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pixinguinha and Choro Day

Pixinguinha (1897-1973)
Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho (1897-1973), better known as Pixinguinha, was a choro composer, arranger, flutist and saxophonist born in Rio de Janeiro. Through the legacy of the pioneering choro composers of the 19th century and of the Afro-Brazilian tradition, Pixinguinha produced some of the most important choro works of all time. His work as a composer, bandleader, flutist/reedplayer and originator of the choro genre is of invaluable importance, historically and from a musical point of view. The work of Pixinguinha may be considered important at the same level as the work of initial American jazz composers like Duke Ellington - both helped shaping a musical form that had success nationally and internationally.

The name and legacy of Pixinguinha is kept well alive in Brazil, in September 2000 President Fernando Henrique Cardoso signed an official document to announce April 23th the National Day of Choro in Brazil in honor of Pixinguinha. Every year since then choro has been celebrated officially on the 23th of April through countless events in Brazil and around the world where Brasilian culture is a part of the local community. Let's follow this tradition and celebrate the day by playing some choro music by Pixinguinha.

Os Oito Batutas
Pixinguinha demonstrated ability on both flute and cavaquinho as a kid and started composing at an early age. By the age of 14, he had composed his first choro, 'Lata de leite', and was already an accomplished flute player. In 1913, he made his first choro recordings, and by the time he was 15, he was playing professionally - at 18 he was one of the most popular musicians and choro composers in Rio de Janeiro. In 1919, Pixinguinha formed the legendary Os Oito Batutas (- meaning 'The Eight Remarkable Players' in English). The group consisted of flute (- and later saxophone), guitars, cavaquinho, bandolim, bandola, pandeiro and assorted percussion. - Led by Pixinguinha, Oito Batutas was formed to entertain the audience of Rio's prestigious Cinema Palais in its foyer. Opening on April 7, 1919, the group was a success from its debut. The Carioca élite were taken by surprise by the repertory of maxixes, sertanejo songs, batuques, cateretês, and choros. In 1920, the group performed for the King of Belgium and in the next year they toured Brazil. Returning to Rio, they went to play at the luxurious Assírio Club, accompanying the dancing duo Duque & Gaby. In January 1922, the group departed for Paris, France, financed by millionaire Arnaldo Guinle. Introduced as Les Batutas at the Scherazade club, they performed there for six months with great success. - Also in 1922, they left for Argentina, performing at the Empire Theater (Buenos Aires) and recorded 20 sides for the Argentinean Victor label. Upon their return to Brazil in 1923, they diminished their performances until they soon dissolved the group. - Among the recorded material by Oito Batutas there was a composotion by initial guitar choro originator, João Pernambuco, who was a member of the group for some time - here his choro 'Graúna' is performed by Pixinguinha on flute accompanied by the Batutas 

In the late 1920s, Pixinguinha was hired by RCA Victor to lead the Orquestra Victor Brasileira, and during his tenure there he refined his skills as an arranger. It was common for choro musicians at the time to improvise their parts based on a simple piano score, but the growing demand for radio music from large ensembles required fully realized written scores for every instrument, and Pixinguinha was one of the few composers with this skill. It was in this role that he created some of his most famous compositions, i.e. 'Lamentos' and 'Carinhoso' - Here is inserted the original recording of 'Lamentos' from 1928 

Benedito Lacerda (flute), Pixinguinha (saxophone)
In 1939, Pixinguinha left Victor to join flautist Benedito Lacerda's band, where he took up the tenor saxophone as his primary instrument and continued to compose music for the group. Lacerda's band was a conjunto regional, the name given to in-house bands hired by radio stations to perform music and accompany singers, often live in front of a studio audience. It was with Lacerda that Pixinguinha began another fertile period of composing and recording. Due to economic troubles as the regionais fell out of favor in the late 40s, Pixinguinha had to sell the rights to his compositions to Benedito Lacerda, who for this appears a co-composer of many of Pixinguinha's tunes, even those composed while Lacerda was still a boy. In the recordings with Lacerda, Pixinguinha plays secondary parts on the saxophone while Lacerda plays the flute part on tunes that Pixinguinha originally wrote on that instrument. - Here's an example of the co-work between Pixinguinha and Lacerda, the recording of Pixinguinha's choro 'Vou vivendo' (1946)

By the mid 1950s, changing tastes and the emerging popularity of samba and American jazz in Brazil led to the decline of the choro regional as other genres became dominant on the radio. Pixinguinha spent his time in retirement, appearing in public only on rare occasions. - Here's a rare film from this period showing Pixinguiha and his conjunto playing his famous choro 'Um a zero' - enjoy!

Pixinguinha's music continues to inspire and challenge musicians of all kind to play their version of his famous compositions, here's a new uploaded video showing the harmonicaplayer Vitor Lopes performing 'Lamentos' as a solo piece to end this small celebration of Pixinguinha and Choro Day


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rio, Choro, Jazz - A Contemporary Tribute To Ernesto Nazareth

CD cover: Rio, Choro, Jazz ... AAM Music, 2014
A new CD by the Brazilian pianist, composer, arranger and producer Antonio Adolfo is a tribute to the music of Ernesto Nazareth recorded last year and released a couple of weeks ago at Adolfo's own label, AAM Music. The CD has ten tracks, nine of them are compositions by Nazareth and the title track is a new composition by Antonio Adolfo, a contemporary interpretation of the different musical influences that are the inspiration of this project: choro and jazz. The musicians taking part in the recorded ten tracks are: Antonio Adolfo (piano, arranger), Claudio Spiewak (guitars), Jorge Helder (bass), Marcelo Martins (flute, soprano saxophone), Rafael Barata (drums, percussion) and Marcos Suzano (percussion). - The nine featured compositions by Nazareth are "Feitiço" (1897), "Brejeiro" (1893), "Fon-fon" (1913), "Tenebroso" (1913), "Não caio noutra" (1881), "Coração que sente" (1903), "Cuéra" (1912), "Nenê" (1895) and "Odeon" (1909) - the audio of the last mentioned in Antonio Adolfo's new arrangement has been uploaded at YouTube

What caracterizes Adolfo's interpretations of Nazareth's music is the freedom of improvisation, an element exposed in both choro and jazz, here in a contemporary form that may be considered a hybrid between the two genres. The result is neither traditional jazz nor choro, but a mixture that blows fresh air into Nazareth's musical themes through be bop inspired improvisation - in the liner notes Adolfo mentions Bill Evans as an inspiration working with the arrangements featured on the disc.

Antonio Adolfo
Antonio Adolfo (b 1947) grew up in a musical family in Rio de Janeiro and began his studies at the age of seven. At seventeen he was already a professional musician. His teachers include Eumir Deodato and Nadia Boulanger. During the 60's he led his own trio and toured with singers Elis Regina and Milton Nascimento. Adolfo wrote tunes that gained great success and have been recorded by such artists as Sérgio Mendes, Stevie Wonder, Herb Alpert, Earl Klugh, Dionne Warwick, and others. He won International Song Contests on two occasions. As a musician and arranger he has worked with some of the most representative Brazilian names, besides having released several albums. In 1985 he created his own school of music in Rio de Janeiro. Currently he is conducting a music school in Hollywood and teaches Brazilian music and jazz. More info on Antonio Adolfo's career at his official website, here 

Antonio Adolfo, photo by Paul Constantinides
The new arrangements of Nazareth's music by Antonio Adolfo continue and extend a longtime fascination with the founders of Brazilian Choro music, Adolfo released another CD featuring music by Nazareth and Chiquinha Gonzaga in 1991 and he has participated in other choro and jazz projects in Brazil as well. To end this small review of the new CD, here's another audio take from the CD uploaded at YouTube, Nazareth's "Fon-Fon"

The CD Rio, Choro, Jazz ... by Antonio Adolfo is available for purchase here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Toinho Gomes - Choros

While searching SoundCloud for choro recordings  I had the good fortune to find some uploaded streams by Toinho Gomesamong these were the music recorded at the shown CD above. The CD is available as mp3-files for purchase from both Amazon and CD Baby Music Store. I highly recommend this issue, if you are looking for magnificent choro recordings in the great tradition from Época de Ouro a.o..

Toinho Gomes (b.1953) is from Minas Gerais, Brazil, and a selftaught cavaquinista, who also composes. The CD has 16 tracks of compositions by Toinho Gomes, his work as a composer of choros has earned him critical applause from many authorities in this idiom, a.o. Henrique Cazes and Reco do Bandolim, who considered Toinho Gomes as one of the greatest composers of choro in Minas Gerais. In 2001, one of the compositions available on the CD,'No Boteco do Hélio', was a finalist of the Festival Chorando no Rio, held by the Museu da Imagem e do Som, and in 2011 another composition by Gomes, 'Antônio Caetano' (-also available on the CD), was a semifinalist of the Festival Choro Novo, conducted by Brasil com S, in Belo Horizonte.

On the shown CD Toinho Gomes is accompanied by recognized soloists like Ausier Vinicius and Márcio Almeida Hulk on cavaquinho, Ronaldo do Bandolim (Trio Madeira Brasil and Época de Ouro) and Tiago Souza (Regional Carioca) on bandolim, saxophonist Daniela Spielmann (Rabo de Lagarixa), clarinetist Rui Alvim (Água de Moringa), flutist Alexandre Maionese, trombonist Fabiano Segalote, the trumpeter Silverio Pontes and accordionist Kiko Horta. The basic team includes  the seven-string guitar player Toni Sete Cordas (Época de Ouro), the six-string guitar player Rogério Souza (Nó em Pingo d'Água) , the cavaquinho base player Márcio Almeida Hulk and the percussionist Márcio Gomes. - To give you an impression of the recorded compositions by Toinho Gomes, I'll insert a couple of uploaded videos from YouTube, here is first the crtical acclaimed 'No Boteco do Hélio' with still footage from the recording of the CD - enjoy!

Here is another composition by Toinho Gomes from the CD, 'Mineiro Sincopado', featuring cavaquinho player Ausier Vinicius as soloist

It's an amazing and joyful experience to be listening to the compositions by Toinho Gomes, and if the above short review has caught your interest, don't hesitate to visit CD Baby or Amazon to buy your mp3 copy of the CD today.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Taruíra - Choro from Rio

'Taruíra' is the local name of a small gecko, common in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo. But Taruíra is also the name of a choro ensemble in Rio de Janeiro - a sextet that mixes traditional and modern music and "(...) brings multiple languages together and focuses on the Brazilian and Latin music – always with a little bit of jazz" according to the press info of the group. The group started in 2002 as a trio and is today formed by Breno Morais (soprano saxophone and flute), Carlos Watkins (tenor saxophone), Guto Menezes (cavaquinho and viola), José Roberto Leão (violão 7 cordas), Leandro Mattos (pandeiro) and Yuri Garrido (drums).
Taruíra's first CD was released in 2007 and had 14 tracks of arranged music by composers such as Pixinguinha, Tom Jobim, Hermeto Paschoal and Maurice Ravel, among others. The bandolinist Paulo Sá was responsible for the arrangements of this independent work. The CD is sold out, but you have the opportunity to listen to the recorded tracks at Tauríra's profile on SoundCloud, here

In 2007, the group began its most important project: the rodas de choro that took place on a square in Petrópolis, Taruíra’s hometown, and went on for more than three years. The event started out as a musical gathering outdoors, but it became gradually popular and continued for hundreds of Sundays. The project was eventually subsided by a federal law and became part of the cultural upbringing of the inhabitants of Petrópolis and its surroundings.

In 2011, Taruíra was able to bring to life the desire to record its very own DVD. The DVD was called “Nas nuvens”, in a reference to the scenery in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, where the group comes from, and proved to be a perfect match for Taruíra’s visual identity. The DVD is uploaded at Taruíra's official website and is available on the group's YouTube channel - Here are a couple of extracts from the DVD inserted below, first the group's version of Jacob do Bandolim's "Assanhado"

Another fragment from the DVD, "A pasta do Carlinhos" (José Roberto Leão) - enjoy!

The music performed at the DVD has been uploaded at Taruíra's official web and is free accessible on SoundCloud too, here [] - Currently the group is in the studio recording its second CD according to the press info. - You can follow the group at FacebookTwitter and Taruíra's official website.

Thanks to Nathália Pandeló for notifying us about Taruíra and forwarding press kit.



Wednesday, December 04, 2013

When You Wish ... New Choro Recordings For Christmas

December is a hectic month for most people, preparations for the season's holidays seem to occupy much of your time, many wishes and expectations are stated and have to be confronted - especially if you have kids in your family. But even resonable grown-ups also have wishes and expectations, thus, if you - dear reader - are a resonable grown-up and have a wish of some new choro recordings for Christmas, but don't know what to expect, I have had a little help from the charming and generous Zé Carioca to help guiding your wishes and let your expectations materialize.

Bandolinist Hamilton de Holanda released the shown CD, Mondo de Pixinguinha, some months ago, and if you haven't added this to your collection of choro recordings already, it's an obvious wish for Christmas. The CD has twelth tracks of compositions by Pixinguinha performed by Hamilton in interplay with international as well as Brazilian musicians. The aim of the CD was not just to record a selection of Pixinguinha's compositions reliving a part of his music. According to Hamilton's notes, it was also to give musicians from other countries with a different background the opportunity to participate in Pixinguinha's legacy in new interpretations of the presented music. On these conditions the tracks are recorded in various places and countries with participation of great pianists like Chucho Valdés and Omar Sosa (Cuba), Stefano Bollani (Italy), Mario Laginha (Portugal), the French master of the accordeon Richard Galliano and the US jazz trompetist Wynton Marsalis. The Brazilian musicians, besides Hamilton, are André Mehmari (piano), Carlos Malta (tenor sax) and Odette Ernest Dias (flute). Ten tracks are duet performance featuring Hamilton in interplay with the mentioned foreign artists - the first track is a solo interpretation by Hamilton of the well known "Naquele Tempo" and the last track is a quartet version of "Carinhoso" by the Braszilian crew. Every track has new variations of the presented music, the CD gives the listener a great opportunity to explore and enjoy new aspects of Pixinguinha's music performed by true masters in amazing interplay, higly recommended - anytime. - You have the opportunity to buy and listen to all tracks in streaming audio at Hamilton's official web, the CD is also available in mp3 format for purchase here. - To give you an impression of the music and musicians on the CD, here's a video presentation featuring a live performance by Hamilton in interplay with  accordeonist Richard Galliano and pianist Omar Sosa - the music is Pixinguinha's "Ingênuo"

A capella sextet ORDINARIUS
2013 has celebrated the 150. anniversary of Ernesto Nazareth, one of the founding figures of choro. Many concerts, activities and new recordings by contemporary artists have been managed in Brazil to celebrate the jubilee. To participate in this renewed interest for Nazareth's legacy a vocal ensemble - the a cappella sextet ORDINARIUS - pointed me to the group's version of "Brejeiro" - inserted here
This wordless and very skilled a cappella version of Nazareth's tune reminded me of some of the vocal arrangements of classical music presented by the Well known and succesful US ensemble The Swingle Singers. -  You may learn more about ORDINARIUS here and also have the opportunity to listen to their debut CD in streaming audio.
Another remarkable presentation of Nazareth's music is available on the shown CD by Grupo Choro & Companhia - Nazareth: Fora dos Eixos, released last year. The title of the CD (- meaning 'off-axis') points to what is to be expected of the enclosed music. The presentation here is of compositions by Nazareth that are outside the repertoire of well known titles like 'Brejeiro, 'Odeon', 'Apanhei-te, cavaquinho' and other popular pieces. The chosen material for the CD is new arrangements of unpublished or neglected scores from the preserved archive of Nazareth's written music. The CD has eleven tracks of delightfull, well arranged and skillfully performed music, more info on single tracks available at Discos do Brasil, here. - The Choro & Companhia ensemble was originally formated in 1985 in Brasilia by a.o. Hamilton de Holanda and his brother Fernando César, today the group is a quartet and only Fernando César (violão and violão 7 cordas) remains from the original group. The other members of the quartet are Pedro Vasconcellos (cavaquinho), Ariadne Paixão (flute) and Amoy Ribas (percussion). On the CD the quartet is extended with guest performers in some of the tracks, they are Juninho Alvarenga (banjo), Alexandre Días (piano), Hamilton de Holanda (bandolim), Ricardo Dourado Freire (clarinet, clarone) and Roberto Corrêa (viola). All involved in the project have created an exciting recital of unknown works by Nazareth in up-to-date arrangements, the CD is higly recommended and an obvious choice for all lovers of original Brazilian music. The CD tracks are available for purchase in mp3 format here. - Choro & Compania presented the repertoire of the Fora dos eixos-CD in a TV production by TV Câmara, the show is almost one hour and has spoken information in between the music. It is well worth lending you attention, even though you don't speak or understand the Portuguese language (- no subtitles in English). Use extended view to have the best experience, enjoy

The Choro das trés ensemble continues their successful career and released the shown CD this summer in advance of a lenghty tour of the US. The CD is the third outing by the group and the title Boas Novas ( - meaning 'Good news' in English) points to the contents.There are 14 tracks of new choro pieces especially composed for Choro das trés, some of them by members of the ensemble, but most of them by friends and members of the choro society in the São Paulo area. The CD is produced by Choro das trés and released by the group's own label, Macole - more info to be found here. - The music on the CD contains great examples of contemporary choro that continue the tradition in a flawless and most enjoyable performance, highly recommended.The future of choro still looks bright thanks to the dedication and devotion to this original Brazilian music by talented and skilled musicians like Choro das trés. - The Boas Novas CD was presented in a live performance with participation of some of the contributors of the repertoire, a video fragment from the concert mixed with filmed footage from the recording of the CD is inserted below to give you an impression of the presented music - enjoy

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Alessandro Penezzi & Alexandre Ribeiro - Live

In 2009, guitarist Alessandro Penezzi and clarinetist Alexandre Ribeiro - both wellknown figures in choro circles of São Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil - started a partnership after a successfull performance in Denmark at Copenhagen Jazz House during a Brazilian festival featuring various Brazilian musicians.The duo recorded a CD in 2010 with the title Cordas au vento (- meaning 'strings in the wind' in English) containing  performance of 12 pieces, most of them new compositions by Alessandro Penezzi.
Click on cover illustration above to have more info on the Cordas au vento CD. The music featured at the CD was presented in a TV studio performance in Brazil, here is the titletrack


The duo had success with their partnership and the CD, which earned them a tour of both the USA and Europe in 2011 besides numerous live performances in Brazil. In October that year the duo had a concert in Holland at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam that was recorded and later issued on a CD in 2012.
The CD contains 13 tracks recorded live at the concert in the Bimhuis, Amsterdam, on October 28th, 2011. The repertoire has compositions from the Cordas au vento program as well as other pieces, mainly composed or recorded earlier by Alessandro Penezzi, click illustration above to have more info on the recorded tracks. - To give you an impression of the great music and performance contained in both the Cordas au vento CD and the live-recording from Amsterdam, I'll insert a couple more video fragments uploaded at YouTube. Unfortunately, there's only a single uploaded fragment from the Bimhuis performance available - the composition 'Heleninha chegando' by Penezzi

The first track on the live CD is the duo's version of Luiz Gonzaga's choro 'Araponga', this was also featured in the TV presentation of the Cordas au vento program mentioned above

Another classic choro composition, 'Famoso' by Ernesto Nazareth, is also featured in the live CD recording as well as in the TV performance from the Brazilian presentation

One of the highlights of the Bimhuis live concert is the duo's medley version of Garoto's 'Lamento do morro' and Sivuca & Oswaldinho's 'Um Tom para Jobim' - here from the Brazilian TV performance

The music performed both at the Cordas ao vento CD and in the live-recordings from Amsterdam is terrific examples of great musicianship as well as a guideline to new branches of Brazilian instrumental music with roots in choro and related genres. You have the opportunity to listen to both CDs in streaming audio at Alessandro Penezzi's official website, here . You can also listen to and buy the tracks from the live concert at Bimhuis here

Monday, September 16, 2013

Leo Gandelman - Ventos do Norte (2013)

Ventos do Norte (North Winds) is a new CD release by Brazilian saxophonist Leo Gandelman. According to the release notes, the CD "(...)summarizes the contribution of saxophonists from the Northeast region of Brazil in the consolidation of a Brazilian style of saxophone playing through the recreation of music specifically composed by them for the instrument throughout the twentieth century". Saxophonists like Luiz Americano, Ratinho, Severino Araújo, K-Ximbinho, Netinho, Moacir Santos, Zumba and Duda came to Rio de Janeiro through a strong wind of jazz from North America and helped popularize the saxophone in Brazil.- Together with Henrique Cazes Leo Gandelman has produced this project, the CD has new arrangements of thirteen significant compositions reflecting the span of musical inspiration from choro and related styles originally written by the mentioned Brazilian masters of the saxophone. In a video uploaded at YouTube Gandelman and Cazes explain the background more detailed, inserted below (- with subtitles in English)

The CD features Gandelman as a soloist on various saxophones in all thriteen tracks, he is accompanied by various musicians - you have the opportunity to see the list of personnel for each track in the CD booklet that is free available as a download from Gandelman's official website, here - The music played at the CD is also available in streaming audio and full length at the official website, here, and you can buy and download it as mp3 files from Amazon, here

Leo Gandelman (b 1956) is considered one of the most influential musicians in Brazil. Son of a classical pianist and of a teacher, by the age of 15 he was already a soloist for the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. Combined with a solid classical foundation, Gandelman set off to study at Berklee College of Music, in the United States, returning to Brazil in 1979 for the beginning of his professional career. Ever since then, he has dedicated himself intensely to his career, having participated to this day in over 800 recordings. He launched his solo career in 87' taking inspiration mainly from Brazilian music and Jazz. - Leo Gandelman has recorded ten albums along the course of his solo career, having sold over 500,000 copies. In later years he has carried out workshops and has participated in various festivals around Brazil. With the album “Radamés e o Sax” (2006) he earned two TIM awards in 2007 for “Best Instrumental Album” and “Best Producer”. Moreover, for 15 consecutive years he was elected as “the Best Brazilian Musician” in the “Diretas Já” contest, run yearly by Jornal do Brasil. His work was also received with big success in the United States, where he developed a noticeable career with right to six seasons of a full house at the Blue Note in New York. -  In 2009 he participated in the “Moscow City Jazz Festival”and was also in Caracas where he
was a soloist for the “Young Orchestra of Caracas”. In 2010 he travelled around Spain with Pianist Maria Teresa Madeira and around Russia and Italy with his quartet, besides participating in various jazz festivals around Brazil.[excerpt of career profile at official website, here ]

To give you an impression of the span of music recorded at the Ventos do Norte CD, I'll insert two officially uploaded videos at YouTube by Gandelman. Here is first the audio-track of Gandelman's arrangement of Ratinho's famous "Saxofone Porque Choras"

To end this small presentation of Ventos do Norte, here is Gandelman's arrangement of "Triste De Quem", a composition by Moacir Santos and Vinícius de Moraes