Monday, December 15, 2008

Seasons Greetings

I want to thanks the readers of this blog for sharing interest in the Brazilian choro, I'll continue posting new blogentries in 2009, but no longer on a weekly basis, as I have other obligations to take care of. The blog has had weekly entries since August 2006 and has by now reached a number of 180+ entries since then. It takes time to do proper research, I am not an expert, just a curious investigator interested in sharing my limited knowledge on the subject with other people, who may have a similar interest in choro. Anyway, if my small contributions have helped people to open their senses for one of the world's most beautiful and fascinating music traditions, I'm happy and content. - I wish you all a Merry X-mas and a Happy New Year!

One of my first encounters with the Brazilian violão as played by a contemporary and highly estimated artist was through listening to some of the released recordings by Carlos Barbosa-Lima, who recorded several outstanding solo-albums for the American Concord label during the 1980s. - Carlos Barbosa-Lima (b.1944) is a native Brazilian, who began studying the guitar when he was seven . Among his teachers were the influential Brazilian guitarist Isaias Savio and further Andres Segovia. While still a child, he was performing in public and he made his recording debut when he was just 12. He first toured the United States in 1967 and during 1971-72 Barbosa-Lima performed in London and New York, gaining a worldwide reputation. He lived in New York for quite a few years before settling in Puerto Rico. Carlos Barbosa-Lima's tasteful yet virtuosic control of the guitar has resulted in consistently delightful solo recitals that appeal to a wide audience. His releases have found him exploring the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin, Luiz Bonfa, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein (songs from West Side Story) and a variety of lesser known Brazilian composers.(info excerpted from AMG)

I found several uploaded videos at YouTube featuring Carlos Barbosa-Lima, I insert some examples below to share these highly enjoyable renditions of classic choro pieces by a master of the violão, who knows his roots. - Here's a rendition of "Tico tico no fúba" from a live-performance with accompaniement by a ukulele player!

Here's a solo recital of Nazareth's "Odeon":

Finally, here's Carlos Barbosa-Lima's terrific solo recital of Pixinguinha's "Um a zero" from a live performance - enjoy!


Stay tuned, best wishes for the seasons holidays!


Friday, December 05, 2008

Yamandú Costa - Wizard of The Violão de 7 Cordas

One of the highlights in Mika Kaurismäki's 2005 documentary film on choro in Rio, 'Brasileirinho', is the scene with Yamandú Costa playing Pixinguinha's 'Carinhoso' alone on stage fronting an audience of hundreds of people spellbound by Yamandú's engaging stage appearance and little by little joining in singing Braguinha's lyrics and thus making the performance a mutual experience - a true spiritual community tied together by the magic of Yamandú's guitar, exposing the soul of choro to the spectator of the film.

Yamandú's stage appearance is pure magic , a spontaneous explosion of aristic vitality that is not often seen in entertainment nowadays where every step and lift of an eybrow by the performer on stage seems to be studied in advance and a conscientious gimmick applied to gain the wanted success. Not the issue regarding Yamandú - the magic is a natural effect of the simple fact that he is an authentic artist, not just another pretender. This does not mean, however, that Yamandú does not do work-out to gain success during performance, of course he does - but his stage appearance comes naturally from the heart and soul of a true artist, I'm convinced.

Yamandú Costa (b.1980) is from Passo Fundo in the Southern part of Brazil and he started to study the violão at seven years of age with his father, Algacir Costa, leader of the group Os Fronteiriços, and he mastered the instrument after studying under Lúcio Yanel, an Argentine virtuoso rooted in Brazil. At fifteen he studied the folk music of Southern Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. After hearing Radamés Gnattali, he began to study the music of other Brazilians, such as Baden Powell de Aquino, Tom Jobim and Raphael Rabello. At seventeen he played in São Paulo for the first time and he was soon to be recognized as the musician to revive Brazilian guitar music. At that time Yamandú had decided to make the violão de 7 cordas his main instrument, and he has since evolved as a true virtosic master of this Brazilian instrument, both as a soloist and as an accompanist. He has performed together with the cream of Brazilian MPB artists, leads his own trio and has toured worldwide besides recording, composing and arranging. Learn more about his career from the official website, click here

The shown cd by Yamandú Costa,'Mafuá', has been released recently by the German label Acoustic Music and this is the first cd fully devoted to Yamandú's skills as a composer and soloist. The cd has 13 tracks of music composed, arranged and played by Yamandú on the violão de 7 cordas, a tour-de-force exposing his virtuosic skills as a performer of different styles, but all with a touch of genius that is his very own. You can hear elements of choro, samba, bossa and Argentine roots music mixed with inspiration from Bach and even the flamenco tradition. The title tune, 'Mafuá' (- meaning 'shambles' in English), is a choro that shows off Yamadú's mastering of the genre in a convincing and engaging performance of the tune. Other titles, like i.e. 'El negro del blanco' mixes elements of Argentine roots music (chammamé and milonga) with Brazilian elements applying a breathtaking technique that borrows from both flamenco and gaucho tradition, also present in the last track on the cd, 'Tipo bicho'. Tunes like 'Samba pro Rafa' and 'Bostempornea' pay tribute to the inspiration from Raphael Rabello and Baden Powell, and you'll probably detect other influences as well when listening to the cd. Do not hesitate to get a copy of this fabulous album, which may rank as the record of the year 2008, if you like high quality guitar music. Definitely recommended! - Learn more about tracklist and listen to audioclips clicking here

YouTube has several upoloaded videos featuring Yamandú Costa, I found a lengthy excerpt of a recorded live-performance in Tel Aviv, Israel, from November this year. Yamandú plays three tunes, the first is a part of 'Bachbaridade', the next is the title tune of the mentioned cd, 'Mafuá' and finally you'll have a rendition of Nazareth's 'Breijeiro' - enjoy Yamandú in action!


This blogpost will be the last on a regular weekly basis in 2008, from 2009 I've decided to post only once in a while.