André Juarez & Grupo Gato Preto
The present heatwave at my spot on the Globe prevents me from a long and detailed blog-entry this time, however, here are a couple of lines about a CD that surprised me recently after listening to it at a streaming service. I do not have the actual CD at hand, and the info offered at music streaming service suppliers is often not very useful or directly non existent, unfortunately. A lack of respect for curious and serious music listeners, I am sorry to say.
|André Juarez & Grupo Gato Preto - Jazz-Choro (Pôr do Som)|
The black cat staring intensely at the viewer on the front cover of the CD by André Juarez and Grupo Gato Preto refers both to the name of the group ( - 'gato preto' in fact means 'black cat' in English) and insider slang expressions in jazz, where 'cat' often refers to an experienced musician who knows his instrument and the music as another alley cat knows his territory. André Juarez definitly is a 'cat', who knows his instrument in and out, and with a musical background in both classical music, MPB and jazz, he has extended his territory to include choro convincingly in the tracks of this CD, that further has the genre title stated as 'jazz-choro'.
|André Juarez - Photo credit by Elizabete Colovatti|
André Juarez is a vibraphonist, arranger and conductor from São Paulo with a career in both erudite and popular music. He had his musical training and academic degrees in music both in São Paulo and at Berklee College, USA, he conducts the São Paulo University Choir and has worked with various orchestras and conducters as an instrumentalist both in Brazil and abroad. In addition to his academic career he also formed his own ensembles on the basis of his engagement in both Brazilian popular music, jazz and - choro. A more detailed career profile is available in Portuguese and English at his official wesite, here.
|André Juarez and Grupo Gato Preto|
The Grupo Gato Preto was formed in 2006 by André Juarez and São Paulo musicians, and according to the website info the ensemble currently is composed of Euclides Marques (seven-string guitar), Yves Finzetto (pandeiro), Getúlio Ribeiro (cavaquinho) and André Juarez (vibraphone) as shown on the photo above. The group has the research and studies of choro music's traditional as well as contemporary repertoire as the main target and the shown CD above is the ensemble's first recording. The vibraphone is an unusual instrument in choro, nevertheless it has the leading voice in this recording and in the ensemble's public performance. The Grupo Gato Preto has had success with its formation and has already won awards for its performance in 2010, 2011 and 2013. The band has been on successful tours abroad 2012 (USA) and 2013 (Argentina) and will be on tour again in August 2014 (Europe), more info at Juarez' website.
The formation of Gato Preto at the CD differs from the mentioned, as Léo Rodrigues (Pandeiro) and Henrique Araújo (cavaquinho) replace Yves Finzetto and Getúlio Ribeiro respectively, and the ensemble further has invited guest performers in some of the tracks, they are the following: Nailor Proveta (clarinet), Teco Cardoso (flute), Bocato (trombone), Edmundo Villani-Côrtes (piano), Danilo Brito (bandolim,cavaco), Mane Silveira (saxophone) and Tiago Pinheiro (vocal).
The chosen repertoire for the thirteen tracks of the CD partially consists of well known compositions by choro celebrities such as Pixinguinha (Um a Zero, Segura Ele), Jacob do Bandolim (Assanhado) and Valdir Azevedo (Brasileirinho, Pedacinhos do Céu). A version of the classic André do Sapato Novo ( by André Vitor Correia and known from versions by Pixinguinha/Lacerda 1947 as well as Jacob do Bandolim's 1956 issue, among many other) - here complete with suspense pauses and inserted bites of other popular themes. Further there are two versions of Alberto Martino's beautiful waltz, Rapaziada do Braz, one of them with added vocal by Tiago Pinheiro singing the lyrics, the other as an instrumental piece. There are also three compositions especially arranged for this recording, the title track, Gato Preto, with guest performer Nailor Proveta added on clarinet, a frevo-inspired composition titled André no Frevo featuring Edmundo Villani- Côrtes on piano and a classic choro theme titled Vida em Sonho, which has Danilo Brito added on violão tenor or cavaco, I assume. Finally, a tip-of-the hat to legendary flutist Copinha in the choro titled Salve, Copinha with guest performer Teco Cardoso on flute, and the CD ends with a small musical joke in a solo version by Adré Juraez of the waltz Sobre as Ondas (- in English better known as Over The Waves) that continues in a perfect inserted version of the tune played by a barrel organ! - The music is well arranged and performed throughout the CD, and the lead voice by the vibraphone adds a pleasant sound to the performance that reminds me of soft jazz yet with a nerve and drive, which is unmistakably Brazilian exellently supported by the contributions of the ensemble and invited guest performers. A different version of great choro tunes and well worth listening to over again, indeed.
The CD was released by the Pôr do Som label last year and is available for purchase at Amazon in a mp3 download version. Both at the site of Pôr do Som and at André Juarez' website you have the opportunity to listen to selected tracks from the CD and further watch some recorded video takes of live-performance presenting material from the CD. I'll end this small review inserting one of the videos that has the recorded studio audio of the composition titled Gato Preto - enjoy!