Friday, February 23, 2007

Violão tenor

The violão tenor - or in English: the tenor guitar is a four stringed instrument normally made in the shape of a guitar, or sometimes with a lute-like pear shaped body or, more rarely, with a round banjo-like wooden body. The instrument can be acoustic and/or electric and it can come in the form of flat top, archtop, wood-bodied or metal-bodied resonator or solid-bodied instruments. Tenor guitars are usually tuned in fifths (usually CGDA, similar to the tenor banjo or the viola), although other tunings are possible, such as "octave mandolin" tuning (GDAE), which makes it easier for a mandolin/bandolim player to use.

In Brazil noted musicians such as Garoto (see picture), Zé Menezes and Claudionor Cruz have used the tenor guitar with great succes, both as a rhtyhm string instrument and as a lead solo guitar. Some sources quote Garoto to be the one, who introduced this instrument in Brazil in 1933, at least he used it extensively on recordings from the late 1930'ies, both with Carmen Miranda and Bando do Lua and in numerous other recording sessions, furthermore Garoto actually wrote a method book on playing the tenor guitar - or violão tenor - still available.

I found a filmed fragment featuring Bando do Lua (- unfortunately without Garoto), the four stringed metal-bodied tenor guitar is audible throughout the performance.

In the contemporary music scene of Brazil the tenor guitar seems to be a rare bird, with notable exceptions. Pedro Amorim is an accomplished bandolim player, who has teamed with the Nó em pingo choro ensemble earlier, made a cd for the Acari label in 1999/2000, ´Violão tenor'(AR-8, iss. 2001), using the acoustic tenor guitar as lead instrument in a repertoire of mostly self omposed choro pieces, accompanied by a small choro ensemble featuring a.o. Luciana Rabello on cavaquinho and Mauricio Carilho on seven string guitar.I highly recommend this cd, both as an example of the tenor guitar in contemporary choro and as a recording of some most delightful music in the great tradition of choro.

As mentioned above, Pedro Amorim is an accomplished bandolim player, his first solo release on the Acari label featured him with this instrument in renditions of pieces by renowned bandolim virtuoso, Luperce Miranda. I haven't listened to this cd, yet, but I found a video performance on YouTube featuring Pedro Amorim playing the bandolim - hope you to enjoy this performance of "Mimosa" by Jacob do Bandolim.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Nicolas Krassik

Recently my friend, Hans, co-editor of this blog, pointed me to a cd by the young French violin player, Nicolas Krassik, who has excelled his skills in both classical and jazz. However, Krassik also was attracted to Brazilian music and in 2001 he decided to settle in Rio to expand the possibilities of an engagement with the rich musical traditions of Brazil. As a result of this engagement Rob Digital released a cd in 2004 featuring Nicolas Krassik, 'Na Lapa' (Rob Digital, RD066), a marvellous example documenting Krassik's deep involvment with and capacity to use his talents within various Brazilian music idioms, choro as well as other notable genres.

On the mentioned cd Krassik is accompanied by well known Brazilian musicians, João Bosco, Beth Carvalho, Yamandú Costa, Hamilton de Holanda, Carlos Malta, Daniela Spielmann, Chico Chagas, Samuel DeOliveira, Gabriel Grossi, Henrique Cazes a.o.. The repertoire of the performance has compositions by choro superstars like Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim and Garoto, and Krassik also pays his dues to renown Brazilian violinist Fafá Lemos in a performance of Lemos' "Fafá em Hollywood". The performance of the various recorded tunes is great, I highly recommend this cd as a splendid example of contemporary choro and choro related music performed by very skilled musicians in a most enjoyable way. Luckily, Krassik continues his career in Brazil and has just released another cd, 'Caçuá', that further documents his deep involvment with the musical traditions of Brazil. I haven't had the opportunity to listen to this release so far, but I am looking forward to do so in near future.

Learn more about Nicolas Krassik and listen to audio samples from his output at his official web site (- in French and Portuguese only, yet), click here

I found a video performance on YouTube featuring Nicolas Krassik on violin, enjoy it!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

True Love!

Today a great part of the Western world is celebrating Valentine's Day - an American tradition spread around the Western society due to commercial interests, of course. So far I know, the aim of Valentine's Day is to celebrate true love - remember to forward your sweetheart a box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers, then the social bond has been confirmed and tightened between you. The flowers and chocolates are to be viewed as a materialized sign of true love - and that's the point for commercial interests to consider how to get money out of people's pockets, that's part of the game in Western society. However, there are other ways to view examples of true love as a founding element for a social bond between humans. I found a couple of performances of choro on YouTube that express true love, at least this is my humble opinion.
Enjoy an accomplished amateur guitarist displaying true love to music and his instrument in a performance of 'Choro Triste' by Aimoré:

Enjoy also a gathering of an accomplished young bandolim player with a group of elderly musicians in a true social event at a rhoda de choro in Rio's famous "O Bandolim de Ouro"

I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Epoca de Ouro

The Epoca de Ouro is in fact the band that accompanied Jacob do Bandolim.

Jacob was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1918 and became the leading instrumentalist in choro music. He played the bandolim, a kind of mandolin, but it has four double courses of strings and an oval shape. His real name was Jacob Pick Bittencours, but it became Jacob do Bandolim, after the instrument he made famous. In 1961 he formed his group, Epoca de Ouro, which means, Golden Age, to refer to the most important years in choro music. In 1969 Jacob died, but his group survived, with various personel and became an important band in the choro revival tradition.

Deo Rian and Dino Sete Cordas

Thanks to Joergen Larsen, expert in choro music ( founder and editor of this web log) I was pointed to a CD titled Epoca de Ouro - Dino 50 anos. (EMI 214503 ) The recording date for this album is 1987; this CD is a 2003 reissue of the 1987 Copacabana Disco. Dino Sete Cordas, who died last year, 88 years old, featured his 50 years in music then - he started his career in choro in 1937. Never mind - the music is great and it reminds me to the great music made by Jacob do Bandolim in the 1950s and 60s.

The musicians are Dino Sete Cordas of course on the 7 string guitar ( Sete Cordas means seven strings) and Deo Rian on bandolim. Cesar Faria is the guitar player and Jorginho plays the pandeiro. During this concert at least twelve tunes were recorded and are to be found on this great album. The band has some guests during the concert like some wind instruments now and then. The pictures on this web blog could have been made during this occasion.

Cesar Faria, Jorginho do Pandeiro, Jorge Filhoe and Dino Sete Cordas

I found a fragment of a documentary, Choro de Memorias, with some great music, in which Paulinho da Viola shares some remembrances about the family gatherings with Jacob do Bandolim and Pixinguinha. His father is Cesar Faria, who plays te guitar on the CD Dino 50 Anos.

Enjoy Paulinho da Viola's Choro de Memorias

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

This contribution has also been posted at the
Keep swinging web log.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Radamés Gnattali

Radamés Gnattali (1906-1988) is a fundamental name in Brazilian music. A classically trained composer, conductor, orchestrator, and arranger, he worked for a living in the popular side of the business, deeply influencing Brazilian popular music with his arrangements and conceptions. His compositions, both in the erudite and popular fields, concurred to bridge the gap between the two idioms, a self-imposed task that was always kept in sight throughout his whole life.

Gnattali was known as a talented arranger and was hired by many of the best popular musicians and radio stations to produce arrangements, including some of the first arrangements of Brazilian popular music for symphony orchestra. He embraced the sound of Glenn Miller and American swing and jazz and added American jazz harmonies to his sophisticated arrangements, to the disgust of hard-line nationalist critics. He worked as an arranger for radio for thirty years and later for TV Globo. Gnattali's work expanded the scope of Brazilian popular music, through his work he added legitimacy to instrumental popular music such as choro.

A career profile by Alvaro Neder available at AMG

As an example of Gnattali's work as an arranger, composer and instrumentalist I recently found a cd by Radamés Gnattali Sexteto on EMI, Brasil (CD 5936302), containing 8 tracks of recordings by this unit, shown below.

The music on the cd has compositions in the great tradition of choro (track 1-4 and 7), two tracks are devoted to compositions by Gnattali displaying his conception of a cross over between erudite and popular, one of them beeing a short homage to another renown Brazilian composer, Tom Jobim. The other composition by Gnattali is his 'Divertimento para seis instrumentos' written for this performing group. - I think this recording is interesting and highly recommended as an example of how classic choro is combined with a modern conception of harmony, the performance in all 8 track is seamless by all involved, both the sextet and the overdubbed strings. Some of the arrangements had me thinking of a Brazilian autentic issue of be bop, others - like the arrangement of "1 X 0" by Pixinguinha - left me with a feeling of listening to ragtime, both experiences incorporated in a great fascination with the music on this cd. Recommended, definitely.Tracklist and info on personnel inserted below.

1. 1 x 0 (Benedito Lacerda - Pixinguinha), 2. Cochichando (Alberto Ribeiro - Pixinguinha - João de Barro), 3. Urubu Malandro (Louro - João de Barro), 4. Sofres Porque Queres (Benedito Lacerda - Pixinguinha), 5. Meu Amigo Tom Jobim (Radamés Gnattali), 6. Nova Ilusão (José Menezes - Luiz Bittencourt), 7. Por um Beijo (Terna Saudade) (Anacleto de Medeiros - Catullo da Paixão Cearense), 8. Divertimento para Seis Instrumentos (Radamés Gnattali)

Personnel: Chiquinho do Acordeon: accordion, Laércio de Freitas: piano, Luciano Perrone: drums, Radamés Gnattali: piano, Pedro Vidal Ramos: bass, Zé Menezes: el-guitar. All arrangements by Radamés Gnattali.

I found a video performance on YouTube of two piano compositions by Gnattali, performed by classical piano player Marc-Andre Hamelin.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Raul de Barros

Raul de Barros (Raul de Machado de Barros, b.1915) is considered one of the great Brazilian trombone players. He began his career in 1935 playing in neighborhood and suburban clubs in Rio de Janeiro and later in dance halls.

In 1948 he released his first solo record interpreting on the trombone the choros 'O pobre vive de teimoso' and 'Malabarista', by Donga. In 1949 he released his famous choro 'Na Glória' played solo on the trombone. He performed actively on Nacional Radio programs in the 1950s. He performed in Uruguay and Argentina. In 1955 he and Dilermano Pinheiro released the album 'Trombone zangado'. In 1958, he recorded the album 'Ginga de gafieira'.

In 1966 he was part of the Brazilian delegation to the Black Art Festival in Dakar, Senegal alongside Clementina de Jesus, Ataulfo Alves, Paulinho da Viola and Elton Medeiros, among others. He recorded a solo album in 1974 'Brasil, trombone' which has been released on a cd by EMI/Brasil, shown below.

In 1979 he released the record 'O som da gafieira'. In the album 'O trombone de ouro' recorded in 1983 he interpreted classics such as 'Carinhoso', by Pixinguinha, 'Pedacinhos do céu', by Waldir Azevedo and 'Ela disse-me assim', by Lupicínio Rodrigues. He worked with names such as Ary Barroso, Pixinguinha and Radamés Gnatalli. He played in several orchestras among them Copacabana Palace. After a long time away from the stage, he returned to perform in public in 2004.
I found a bigband performance on YouTube of Raul de Barros' composition 'Na Glória'