Pixinguinha & Oito Batutas
Pixinguinha (1897-1973) remains an icon representing the heart and soul of Brasilian popular music culture, 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.
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 Oito Batutas (- meaning 'The Eight Remarkable Players' in English) (see picture). 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 for the Argentinean Victor. Upon their return to Brazil in 1923, they diminished their performances until they soon dissolved the group.
In 1995 the Revivendo label re-issued the 20 sides recorded by Oito Batuts for Victor, click picture above to see tracklist. You have the opportunity to listen to most of this material using the online search facility at Instituto Moreira Salles or by visiting the Pixinguinha site made available at IMS, click here
Pixinguinha composed a choro titled 'Os Oito Batutas' reflecting the spirit of this initial ensemble, I insert a couple of uploaded video performances of this famous choro to end this contribution.- Here's a fragment of a roda de choro featuring Grupo Chorando na Sombra
Finally, here's an updated version featuring the Muzehof ensemble - enjoy it!