Friday, June 29, 2007

Nosso Choro - Primeira Classe!

This time only a short announcement due to the fact that summer holidays season is about to start in Europe and will last throughout July. Thus, only short entries at this spot during the next month, mainly recomendations of recordings from my choro collection so far.

Grupo Nosso Choro is a choro ensemble from São Paulo, Brazil. The group was established 1986 and is led by Milton de Mori (b 1965), arranger, composer, bandolinist and multi-string player. The remaining members of Nosso Choro on the shown cd are Stanley Jorge L. de Carvalho (cl), José A. Roberto da Silva (Zé Barbeiro) (violão 7 cordas), Marco Antônio Bertaglia (violão 6 cordas), João Wertchko (Joãozinho) (cavaquinho), Marcello Gallani (pandeiro, percussão). Nosso Choro has released two cds up till now, the first in 1998 and the secound in 2005, the latter shown above and issued by Kuarup records (KCD 170).

The title of the cd says it all - this is first class choro performed by very skilled musicians, highly recomended to enjoy during your summer holidays or whenever you need to have a musical break! The repertoire of the cd is a mixture of compositions by classic choro composers like Chiquinha Gonzaga ("Saõ Paulo"), Anacleto de Medeiros ("Lídia"), Garoto ("Tristeza de um violão"), Ernesto Nazareth ("Sarambeque"), Dilermando Reis ("Divagando"), Pixinguinha ("A vida é um buraco"), Jacob do Bandolim ("Meu segredo") a.o.. A couple of compositions by Milto de Mori are included, too. Among these a tribute to the partnership of Pixinguinha and Benedito Lacerda, "Relembrando Pixinguinha e Benedito Lacerda". I found a performance of this composition on YouTube from a TV-show - here it is Choro das Trés playing, however, Milton de Mori is the cavaquinho player.
Enjoy Choro das Trés performing "Relembrando Pixinguinha e Benedito Lacerda" by Milton de Mori


Friday, June 22, 2007

Henrique Cazes - Cavaquinho Virtuoso

The cavaquinho is an instrument of Portuguese origin, and is the highest-pitched member of the flat-bodied European guitar family. It came to Brazil as it came to other countries colonized by the Portuguese, and traveled as far as Portugal's commercial trading posts in Hawaii (where it transformed into the ukulele) and Indonesia. In Brazil the cavaquinho played a key part on the birth and development of urban popular music since the middle of the XIX century, both in the instrumental lineage that led to Choro, and in the vocal one that led to samba. It was in Brazil that the instrument reached its highest degree of development thanks to musicians such as Nelson Alves (1895/1960), Canhoto (Waldiro Frederico Tramontano 1908/1987) and Waldir Azevedo (1923/1980), who made the cavaquinho an immensely popular solo instrument.

A contemporary Brazilian master of the cavaquinho is Henrique Cazes (b 1959) from Rio de Jainero. The above and following info is quoted from his official website (click headline):

Born in a family of amateur musicians (his father was a guitarist and composer; his mother a singer), he started to play the guitar when he was six years old. He gradually went on to play cavaquinho (a four-string soprano guitar similar to the ukulele), mandolin, tenor guitar, banjo, twelve-string "caipira" guitar and lately the electric guitar - all self taught.
His professional debut came in 1976, with Coisas Nossas (Our Stuff), an ensemble that reveled in Brazilian music of the 20s and 30s.
In 1980 he joined Camerata Carioca, where he worked together with two musicians who influenced him enormously: mandolinist Joel Nascimento and famed composer Radamés Gnattali. With the Camerata Henrique recorded the albums "Vivaldi & Pixinguinha" (FUNARTE 1982) and "Tocar" (Polygram 1983). Working regularly with singers Nara Leão and Elizeth Cardoso, Camerata traveled all over the country and toured Japan in 1985.
In 1988, Henrique started his career as a cavaquinho soloist, recording his first LP "Henrique Cazes" (Musicazes). The same year he published the instructional book "Modern School of Cavaquinho" (Lumiar Editora), which is still the most respected music book on the instrument. Still as a soloist, he released "Tocando Waldir Azevedo" (Kuarup 1990), "Waldir Azevedo, Pixinguinha, Hermeto & Cia" (Kuarup 1992), "Desde que o Choro é Choro" (Kuarup 1995) and "Relendo Waldir Azevedo" (RGE 1997). In 1997 he wrote the book "Choro, do Quintal ao Municipal" (Editora 34), a history of the 150 years of Choro music.

He founded and leads the Orquestra Pixinguinha, which since 1988 has performed and recorded Pixinguinha's original arrangements, with CDs also released in Europe and Japan. Considered the best cavaquinho soloist today and certainly one of the most active, Henrique Cazes developed a parallel career as record producer (with numerous record awards), in addition to his work as a composer of film, theater and television soundtracks.

Additional info on Henrique Cazes available at his website regarding the various musical projects he has directed and an extensive discography - the website is in both Portuguese and English.

To give you and impression of Henrique Cazes' virtuosic mastering of the solo cavaquinho, I insert two video fragments from YouTube. - The first is a solo performance of a composition by Waldir Azevedo "Minhas Mãos meu Cavaquinho"

The secound video fragment features Henrique Cazes playing his own "Estudo Nº1"


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

'Brasileirinho' Revisited

A year ago today the Choro Music blog was started by my friend and co-editor, Hans Koert. After beeing introduced to the Brazilian choro in the summer of 2005, Hans decided to make a blog devoted to this musical artform and related genres as part of his Keep Swinging website.

I was asked to contribute with entries on the subject and aggreed, as I happened to be the one who introduced Hans to choro during our joint venture about Oscar Alemán in Copenhagen July 2005.

While in Copenhagen together with our mutual friend, Theo van de Graaff, we attended a concert with the Choro Brasil Scandinavia ensemble and enjoyed the music very much.

Soon after this event we heard rumors about a documentary on choro to be released on DVD, this put us on the trail of further investigations into the world of choro - the first result of this was my small contribution on Guitar Choro published as an article at Hans' website in March 2006, still accessable clicking here .
However, it was not until June last year that the mentioned documentary on choro was released in Europe. Mika Kaurismäki's great film, 'Brasileirinho, Choro in Rio' (2005), was released in the DVD format for the European market during June 2006, and this event was the actual background of starting the Choro Music blog. Learn more about Kaurismäki's film from the official website, click headline, and read Hans' review in one of the first entries at the Choro Music blogspot.
Let's celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Choro Music blog enjoying a couple of excerpts from Kaurismäki's 'Brasileirinho' that have been uploaded at YouTube. The first fragment is from the start of the film - Trio Madeira Brasil performing Jacob do Bandolim's 'Santa Morena'

The secound fragment is a highlight from the filmed concert - Yamandú Costa playing 'Carinhoso' and accompanying the singing of the attending audience


Friday, June 15, 2007

Rossini Ferreira

Recently I had a copy of the shown cd, 'Um Aló para o Six' (Kuarup, KCD 098), featuring the great bandolimist, Rossini Ferreira and his choro ensemble. The cd contains 20 tracks, most of them recordings of Ferreira's own compositions: choros, waltzes and maxixes in the classic style. When listening to the cd, the music reminded me of the recordings by Época de Ouro - the sound and high class performance of the tunes is very alike and a sheer pleasure to share and enjoy. Unfortunately, the cd is no longer available in the catalogue of Kuarup records, but it's definitely worth searching for and highly recomended, if you love classic choro.
Rossini Ferreira (1919-1981) was from Pernambuco (North-East of Brazil) and started playing the bandolim as a teenager and was soon to be a master of the instrument, acknowledged by his peers. In 1959 he and other musicians from the Pernambuco region headed for Rio to share experiences with and join rodas de choro at the home of Jacob do Bandolim, and shortly afterwards Ferreira moved to Rio and stayed there for some years, taking part in the musical life of Rio. Later he would return to Pernambuco to join the Orquestra de Cordas Dedilhadas de Pernambuco, the famous string ensemble from Recife specializing in arrangements of Pernambuco's music. Ferreira took part as one of three bandolimists in the recording of a LP by Orquestra de Cordas Dedilhadas de Pernambuco in 1984, later re-issued on a cd by the FUNARTE foundation. The shown cd above is the only solo release of Ferreira's own recordings.
To give you an impression of Ferreira's music, I found a short video performance by Grupo D'Improviso playing 'De galho em galho' - a composition by Rossini Ferreira


Friday, June 08, 2007

Choro, Sources & Resources

During the past year I have devoted some time researching the Brazilian choro out of a personal interest and to provide info for this blogspot, originated by my friend and co-writer, Hans Koert. The Choro Music blog has now been up almost one year and has reached the magical number of 100 entries with this entry. A year ago I would not have realised it to be possible making entries on the subject on a regular basis, although we optimistically started the blog running with daily entries the first couple of weeks and later with weekly entries, a practise to be followed from August 2006 up till now. The number of visitors of the blog, however, has not been large and feed-back has been scarce regarding comments or suggestions. On the other hand, it seems that the blog has created a spot for a small community of regular visitors. I want to thanks those of you who have taken time for regular visits, this shows me that there is an interest in keeping choro alive and a forum of readers, who want to share the info we have been able to provide.

The problem of researching and informing on the Brazilian choro from my personal view of things has mainly been a linguistic problem, most sources and resources are in Portuguese - a language I do not master, unfortunately. However, luckily I have found help and a treasure of solid researched info in English in the book shown below.

This pioneering work in English, 'Choro: A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music' by Tamara Elena Livingston and Thomas George Caracas Garcia is highly recommended, if you want to have an in-dept view and knowledge of choro. The book has been published 2005 and is available from Indiana University Press

Info in English on Brazilian groups and individual choro musicians may be found at All Music Guide, where researcher Alvaro Neder has provided a lot of useful information, often quoted here at our blog.

Another resource regarding info is the AllBrazilianMusic website, both in Portuguese and English - an encoclydepia of Brazilian musicians and groups covering most of the Brazilian genres in music.

If you interested in researching the recorded sound of original and historic choro artists, the best resource is the website of Instituto Moreira Salles, highly recommended.

To buy choro recordings on compact disc I recommend a visit at specialist retailers, if you do not consult the online service of the Brazilian record companies. Good service and an impressing catalogue of choro recordings may be found at the online facility of Samba Store

Among my first impressions of choro music was the impression of a vivid soundscape recreating
the sound of and longing for what I at first judged to be a bygone romatic era in music. In other words, my impression of choro was involving nostalgic feelings, not at all in a negative sense of the word 'nostalgic'. This feeling is still with me, and the positive meaning of the word comes through every time I listen to Jacob do Bandolim's 'Nostalgia'. Why not activate this feeling here to celebrate choro?


Friday, June 01, 2007

Carioca Soul And The Spirit of Choro

Choro was born in Rio de Jainero during the late decades of the 19th Century and developed into a musical genre which expresses the musical soul of the city. I found a cartoon on YouTube that explains how the spirit of choro and the Carioca soul are experienced by a young boy, who encounters choro musicians performing in the street where he plays. Enjoy Alma Carioca: Um choro de menino

The soul of Carioca and the spirit of choro attract people from all over the world - and not just from other parts of Brazil. I found a video fragment of a roda de choro in the famous Rio music store, 'O Bandolim de Ouro', featuring a young Japanese, who learned to play bandolim listening to records by Jacob do Bandolim in Japan and then headed for Rio just to play together with the usual crowd of Brazilians at the store! Enjoy this performance of Jacob do Bandolim's 'Cabuloso'

If choro expresses the soul of Rio, the music never stops - you may attend choro sessions day and night. Night time seems to be the right time for a performance of Jacob do Bandolim's very popular 'Noites Cariocas'. Enjoy a video performance of this tune by Marco de Pinna Quinteto recorded at a night show in Ipanema,RJ.

Ending these impressions of Rio's musical life only a Happy Birthday to my friend and originator of this blog-spot, Hans, remains. In Dutch: Gelukkige Verjaardag!!!