Monday, June 26, 2017

Virtuoso Brazilian Guitar Duets - Yamandú Costa & Alessandro Penezzi

CD front - Quebranto (Biscoito Fino 2017) (graphic illustration by Stephan Doitschinoff)
Two well known and acclaimed Brazilian guitarists, Yamandú Costa and Alessandro Penezzi have joined forces in recording the shown CD Quebranto that was released by the Biscoito Fino label last month (more info here). The CD has thirteen tracks of amazing guitar duets featuring music composed and/or arranged by the two guitarists. The music reflects different aspects of the Brazilian guitar tradition which are celebrated in the disc. What keeps the project together and generates a successfull disc is the mutual conception of the music and exceptional technical skills applied by both musicians.
According to a published interview with Alessandro Penezzi (- available in Portuguese only, here) the CD has been a long time underway, quote (my English translation): " It was born of a mutual desire that we had to make a record together. About ten years ago, we met at his [Yamandú's] house and began to compose. We recorded some songs in a homemade way. However, only later did we decide to finish the album, putting the idea on paper. I've known Yamandu for a long time, since when I went to live in São Paulo, around 2002. In fact, we became friends, as if we already knew each other.(-) If we add up all the time we have taken to the design and composition of this record, it's years. We started writing it for about three or four years ago, but the idea came before as I said". The collaboration was complicated because of geographical distance between the two guitarists, however, "We solved this a few times with contacts via Skype, WhatsApp, email, and it was like this. When we had a reasonable number of compositions and we needed to rehearse the arrangements, we decided to go to Yamandu's house"
The CD celebrates the Brazilian guitar, its tradition and players - Penezzi puts it this way in the interview, quote "The Brazilian guitar is a character of many faces - from Latin, from Latin blood, from the energy and strength that comes from the Spanish influence, the black guitar, the Creole, the Gaucho ... In fact, there is not an interpreter specifically there [in the music at the disc] , but the soul of the guitar. We seek, by means of sonorous brushstrokes, to give our vision". When asked what are some of the main peculiarities of the Brazilian guitar/violão, Penezzi says there are several "... but I would say the right hand, which is vigorous and has enough of (-) that percussive thing that comes from the Afro root. At the same time, it works hard on polyphony and praises for virtuosity, because of the flameco and Spanish influence. It is a guitar of many peculiarities". The front cover illustration of the CD, which is copied from a graphic work by Stephan Doitschinoff reflects some of the peculiarities of the right hand technique used by Brazilian guitarists according to Penezzi, quote "There's a gypsy thing about it, which, incidentally, is one of our influences. When we speak of Spanish flamenco music, it includes the gypsy vein, which carries a whole mystical, exoteric baggage." The title of the CD, Quebranto, which also is the title of one of the compositions by Penezzi at the CD, further reflects the gypsy aspect - the word 'quebranto' in gypsy exoteric knowledge points to a spell that casts itself through the gaze to bewitch someone. In a way, this is exactly what happens between musicians when interacting directed by the spirit of the music - it's a spellbinding experience which unites the musician with his or her instrument and at the same time directs the performance and interplay as a unity.
As mentioned, there are thirteen tracks at the CD, five of them contain collaborated compositions by the two guitarists (Capitão do Mato, Chico balanceado, Amigo Bonilha, Valsa Morena and Chaparral), three tracks have pieces composed by Penezzi (É chorando que se aprende, Dayanna and Quebranto), Yamandú also has three self penned pieces (Samba pro Rafa, Bolero negro and Saracoteco) while the two remaining tracks are devoted to a Valsa seresta no. 1 by Sergio Belluco (Penezzi's teacher of the violão) and a collaborate work by Yamandú and his teacher Lucio Yanel entitled Meus gurizinhos. - Yamandú takes a leading role in most of the recorded tunes playing the themes while Penezzi contributes accompaniement but also gets solo spots besides showing off exceptional technical skills like Yamandú. The interplay between the two guitarists is amazing and reveals a mutual responsiveness and shared understanding of the music, which keep the spontaneity and energy of the performance in a direct way that is rare in produced studio recordings. The result is a magnificent production and I highly recommend the CD to anyone with interest in great Brazialian guitar music. - The disc is avaiable for purchase here and you have the opportunity to listen to the tracks at Spotify and similar audiostreaming suppliers at the web. Biscoto Fino has uploaded the first track of the CD, Capitão do Mato, in an audio video at YouTube, which is inserted below to end this small review 


Thursday, May 04, 2017

Alencarinos (2013) - A Homage To Alencar 7 Cordas

Alencar 7 Cordas (1951 - 2011)
Alencar 7 Cordas (José de Alencar Soares) was born in Ipu, Ceará, in 1951, and settled in Brasilia in the early 1970s. A key element in the musical development of the city, Alencar 7 Cordas participated in the foundation of the Clube do Choro in Brasilia. He was a member of the ensemble Choro Livre for 25 years as guitarist and arranger and throughout his career he played alongside great names in Brazilian music. He was one of the pioneer teachers at the Escola Brasileira de Choro Rafael Rabello and later he created his own school, being responsible for the education of several musicians from different generations of Brasilia.

Since 2007 Alencar had been directing and integrating the Regional BemBrasil , with which he started recording a CD in 2011.
Alencar & Regional BemBrasil
On Sunday mornings the group met to rehearse under the regency of Alencar. Once the repertoire was prepared, two tracks were recorded. However, unexpectedly, on September 15, 2011, at the age of sixty, Alencar passed away from a heart attack. Facing the challenge of finalizing the album, the Regional BemBrasil invited Fernando César to make the arrangements and record the 7 string guitar in the remaining repertoire chosen for the album. Since then the Regional has been renamed Alencarinos, which also is the title of the CD produced and issued in 2013.
Alencarinos CD (2013)
I was pointed to the CD by Oscar Barahona, who generously provided info on Alencar 7 Cordas and the CD. There are 15 tracks on the disc, the first and last track have Alencar with Regional BemBrasil - the remaining 13 tracks are arranged and have the participation of Fernando César on the 7 string guitar. All tracks besides track 14 titled Alencarino (a composition by Onaldo Domingues) are composed by Alencar 7 Cordas. The Regional playing on all tracks consists of: Márcio Bezerra (clarinet), Lucas de Campos (violão), Pedro Molusco  (cavaquinho) and Junior Viegas  (pandeiro). The CD further has several guest performers in the various tracks, they are: Victor Angeleas (bandolim on 2, 8), Sergio Morais (flute on 3, 7, 14), Beth Ernest Dias (flute on 5), Joel Nascimento (bandolim on 6), Paulo André Tavares (violão on 7, 13), Leandro Braga (piano on 9), Jaime Ernest Dias (violão on 10), Odette Ernest Dias (flute on 11), Juninho Ferreira (sanfona on 12), Valério Xavier (cavaco on 12, 14), Leonel Laterza (voc on 13), Reco do Bandolim (ban on 14). Tracklist as follows: 1) Imitação, 2) Enfeitiçando, 3) Moluscando, 4) É do Pangaré, 5) Lucas 6, 6) Amardando, 7) Entre Mares, 8) No Macamba, 9) Imagem, 10) Valsa Choro, 11) Vou Levando, 12) Escalando, 13) Brasil 3 por 4, 14) Alencarino, 15) Choro BB.

You have the opportunity to listen to the music at the CD, hereThe CD has also been uploaded in full length at YouTube, here. Unfortunately, the listing of tracks in the video does not follow the CD, but if you compare titles with info stated above, I hope you are able to dig out the participation of musicians on the various tracks. The CD Alencarinos is a great homage to the work of Alencar 7 Cordas. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pixinguinha 120 - Choro Day

Pixinguinha (1897-1973)
April 23rd is the official Dia Nacional do Choro in Brazil since 2000 in honor of the birthday of Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho, better known as Pixinguinha (1897-1973) - one of the all time greatest Brazilian artists, who helped creating and shaping Choro in its present form. This year is a special year, as Pixinguinha would have turned 120 years of age, and this fact will be celebrated in several ways all over Brazil. For instance, the Instituto Moreira Salles (IMS) has kept the archieve of Pixinguinha since 2000 - accessible here - and yesterday a new site dedicated to the 120 years of Pixinguinha was launched by IMS, here 
The new site dedicated to Pixinguinha at IMS
Here at the Choro music blog we will celebrate the 120 years of Pixinguinha and his importance in Brazilian music culture by giving access to some of his music as played by skilled musicians from uploaded video performances at You Tube. - Here is first a live performance of Cochichando as played by Nailor Proveta, Pedro Amorim and the Regional Imperial in 2012

From the same live performance, here is Proveta and Regional Imperial's interpretation of Pixinguinha's Quem é você? 

From a 2011 concert, Regional Imperial accompanies bandolinista Luis Barcelos in a reading of Pixinguinha's Minha Gente 

From the same concert, Luis Barcelos and Regional Imperial play Pixinguinha's Acerta o passo 

From an Instrumental SESC Brasil live performance 2010, Danilo Brito and ensemble play Pixinguinha's Ingênuo 

Finally, from the same live performance, Danilo Brito and ensemble play Pixinguinha/Benedito Lacerda's 1X0 (Um a Zero) 


Friday, March 24, 2017

Trio Choro Moderno

Trio Choro Moderno - l-r: Pedro Ramos (cav, violão tenor), Paulo Ramos
(violão 7 cordas), Diego Pereira (dm)
Trio Choro Moderno was formed in 2013. Before the trio was formed, the brothers Paulo (7 string guitar) and Pedro Ramos (cavaquinho/tenor guitar)  had a duo together. Since 2009, Pedro Ramos is a professor at Souza Lima Music College in São Paulo.  He first met the drummer Diego Pereira there as a drums student in 2013. Pedro was very impressed by Diego's musicianship and invited him to join the duo along with his brother Paulo. - Since 2013, the trio has played in music bars, jazz clubs and theaters in the São Paulo music scene and the interior of São Paulo state as well. In mid 2014 Trio Choro Moderno did their first international tour in Portugal. - In 2017, Trio Choro Moderno  has released their first CD, called Bolo de Fubá (Corn Cake). The CD presents original compositions and features special guests Sizão Machado on acoustic bass, Vitor Alcantara on tenor and soprano sax and Guilherme Ribeiro on accordeon. The compositions explore the vast choro music universe, with its various rhythms such as samba, maxixe, schotish, waltz and frevo. (info excerpted from official website, here )
CD front: Trio Choro Moderno, Bolo de Fubá (independent, 2017)
The CD was recorded in 2016 and contain twelth tracks, most of them arranged and composed by members of the trio (- for details, see Discos do Brasil here) -  Here's the title track of the cd from a YouTube video

There are a couple of new arrangements of well known choros, i.e. Arranca Toca (Meira) and Cristal¨by Jacob do Bandolim, the last mentioned also available in a YouTube video

The CD by Trio Choro Moderno is recommended and available for purchase as digital download here 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Messias Britto - Baianato

Messias Britto - Baianato (2014, independent)
I like to point you to an amazing CD of virtuosic cavaquinho playing, the above shown Baianato by Messias Britto. The CD was originally released 2014 in Brazil, but has now been re-released internationally last month, more info here and here.  The CD is available for purchase as digital download here 
Messias Britto (photo by Stela Handa)
Messias Britto (b 1989) is a self-taught cavaquinista from Bahia (North-East of Brazil). At age 12 he saw a cavaquinho for the first time, two years later he discovered Waldir Azevedo, who became his greatest inspiration. At age 19 he was invited to give lessons at Clube do Choro de Bahia in Salvador where he also was part of the Grupo Mandaia. In 2011, he went to live in São Paulo and in 2012 and 2013 he won the Bahia Educative Radio Music Festival as "Best Instrumental Interpreter". In 2014, he launched his first album, Baianato, in which he presents 10 instrumentals, most of them selfpenned and reflecting the many different musical styles of North-East of Brazil. In 2016, he won the Mimo Instrumental award. 
CD tracklist
Below I'll insert some examples from the studio recording of the CD, which have been uploaded at YouTube. - Here is first Pingo no Ó, first track at the CD

The title track of the CD, Baianato

Tatu e Eu is heavily inspired by the frevo tempo/rhythm

To end this small presentation of Messias Britto and his debut CD, I'll insert a live performance of the well-known Espinha de Bacalhau, which also gets a reading at the CD


Friday, January 27, 2017

Revival of Music by Ireneu de Almeida And The Ophicleide

Ireneu de Almeida
Irineu de Almeida (1873-1916), also known as Irineu Batina was an important figure in the early days of choro. He was a member of the famous Banda do Corpo de Bombeiros de R.J. founded and led by the renowned Anacleto de Medeiros. In this band Ireneu de Almeida played the trumpet, tuba, trombone and ophicleide. In Brazil the ophicleide was the first instrument to play the counterpoint bass lines or baixarias; over time the role of this instrument was taken by other low-range instruments such as the euphonium, the tuba, the contrabass and, eventually, the seven-string guitar.
The ophicleide is a keyed brass wind instrument, the bass member of the family whose soprano is the keyed bugle (it is classified as an aerophone, as it has a mouth piece similar to that of a bass trombone). It was patented by the French maker Halary (Jean Hilaire Asté) in 1821. (More info about the ophicleide here) 
Pixinguinha and Ireneu de Almeida
Ireneu de Almeida was Pixinguinha's music teacher and they performed together in Ireneu's choro ensemble named Choro Carioca. In 1911 the ensemble recorded a number of compositions including Pixinguinha's São João debaixo d’água. Pixinguinha played the flute and Ireneu played the counterpoint melody on the ophicleide.

Irineu’s approach to playing the counter-melody, which has an improvised character, had a profound influence on how Pixinguinha would compose and perform throughout his career. When Pixinguinha later took to playing the tenor saxophone in favour of the flute, his primary musical reference was Irineu’s way of playing the ophicleide. Maurício Carillho has put it this way, quote: "(...) Pixinguinha’s teacher at the beginning of the twentieth century, Irineu de Almeida played the ophicleide. When Pixinguinha played the saxophone he was thinking of the ophicleide, his reference was the ophicleide, right up to his sound of his tenor saxophone sounded more like a ophicleide than that of a tenor saxophone. When one hears the recordings of Irineu de Almeida with Pixinguinha, who was only 13 or 14 years old, playing the flute, you understand Pixinguinha the musician, the sound of Pixinguinha’s saxophone, the contrapuntal language, where all this came from..." (quoted from this sourcesee pp 23-24, The ophicleide and baixarias, from which the above info is excerpted)
CD front: Irineu de Almeida e o oficleide - 100 anos depois (Biscoito Fino, 2016)
Last year the shown CD was released by Biscoito Fino (- more info here and here) featuring music composed and/or recorded by Ireneu de Almeida exposing the ophicleide in an ensemble setting similar to the original recordings made by Ireneu's Choro Carioca ensemble mentioned above. The CD was produced by Maurico Carrilho in collaboration with Mariza and Joana Adnet, and the ensemble playing at the fourteen tracks contained at the CD consists of Everson Moraes (ophicleide), Aquiles Moraes (cornet), Leonardo Miranda (flute), Lucas Oliveira (cavaquinho), Iuri Bittar (violão), Marcus Thadeu (ritmo) and a couple of tracks have extended personnel including Mauricio Carrilho (violão 7 cordas), Beatriz Stutz (clarinet) and Thiao Osória (tuba).
Everson Moraes ensemble performing - Everson is playing the ophicleide
The repertoire of the disc has updated arrangements of music by Ireneu de Almeida and features examples of tango brasileiro, polca, choro, maxixe, a.o., very enjoable to listen to. Everson's ophicleide is featured in all fourteen tracks and is skillfully mastered and showing off the instrument's contrapuntal role in interplay with the cornet and flute which have the melody lead. Below I'll insert some examples from the release live performance of the disc to give you an impression of the featured music. - Here is first Everson Moraes and his ensemble performing São João Debaixo dÁgua (tango brasileiro)

From the same live performance, here is the ensemble's version of Ireneu de Almeida's choro titled Pisca-Pisca 

Finally, here is Everson Moraes' ensemble performing the choro Qualquer Cousa 

I highly recommend the disc by the Everson Moraes ensemble, the music is enjoyable throughout and the contributions by all involved are magnificent recreating the music repertorire by Ireneu de Almeida, an important figure in the evolution of the choro. The CD is available for purchase here 


Friday, December 30, 2016

Mestrinho & Nicolas Krassik

Nicolas Krassik (v), Mestrinho (acc) (photo by Rodrigo Ramalho)
I'll end 2016 at this blog by pointing you to a terrific CD released earlier this year featuring eleven tracks of virtuosic interplay and great music by the Mestrinho and Nicolas Krassik duo. The CD was released by Biscoito Fino and you can find more info here  and here
CD front, Mestrinho & Nicolas Krassik (Biscoito Fino, 2016)
Nicolas Krassik should be well known to readers of this blog. The French violinist (b 1969) has resided in Brazil since 2001 and is a highly respected musician on the Brazilian popular scene today. Nicolas Krassik has both conducted  a solo career in Brazil and  participated in performance and recordings by Brazilian artists such as Yamandú Costa, Hamilton de Holanda, Carlos Malta, Marisa Monte, Beth Carvalho, João Bosco, Gilberto Gil a.o.. It was during Krassik's collaboration with Gilberto Gil he met and became friends with accordionist Mestrinho, who also was a member of Gil's band. Mestrinho (b 1988) is from a musical family, and at the age of 6 he was already playing accordion and at age 12 he started performing on band tours in the area where he lived. Since childhood he has been influenced by the music of Dominguinhos, Sivuca, Oswaldinho do Acordeon, Hermeto Pascoal, Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento, Elba Ramalho, a.o.. Mestrinho has accompanied Dominguinhos in several shows throughout Brazil, and he has worked and recorded with Elba Ramalho and participated in Gilberto Gil's shows and recordings, in addition he also works as a producer and arranger and has recorded under his own name. 
Mestrinho & Nicolas Krassik (photo by Rodrigo Ramalho)
The CD by Mestrinho and Nicolas Krassik has eleven tracks of music by the duo, the musical style is influenced by the modern forró tradition known from works by  Dominguinhos a.o. - a composition by Dominguinhos opens the CD, Nilopolitano, and world famous accordionist Sivuca is represented through two of his co-compositions, João e Maria and Feira de Mangaio. Mestrinho is represented through two self penned compositions, Um sorriso de esperanca and Em minha alma, and Nicolas Krassik also contributes two of his own compositions, Cordestinos and Serelepe. The remaining repertoire comprises the duo's interpretation of Formosa by Baden Powell, Diabinho maluco by Jacob do Bandolim, Desvairada by Garoto and Villa-Lobos' Melodia sentimental. The interplay by the duo is terrific and leaves plenty of space for improvisation and attentive accompaniement by both artists, the result is an integrated and magnificent CD that showcasts both musicians' skills as great performers of a repertoire of fascinating and almost mesmerizing music. Highly recomended for repeated listening! - The CD may be purchased in mp3 format here 
Nicolas Krassik and Mestrinho in performance (photo by Renata Samarco)
The photo above was shot at a live performance by the duo last year presenting the material of the CD for an audience at the choro club of Brasilia. From this live performance  the duo's interpretation of 'Feira de Mangaio' has been recorded and uploaded at YouTube, inserted below 

To end this small review of the Mestrinho and Nicolas Krassik CD, I also like to point you to a TV presentation of the duo made earlier this year. The program is almost one hour, has some spoken info in between music and contains excellent performance by the duo of music from the CD, to be watched at You Tube here 
A Happy New Year 2017 - Um feliz ano novo 2017!