Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ernesto Nazareth

Ernesto Júlio Nazareth (1863 - 1934) was born in Rio de Janeiro and learned to play the piano as a child with his mother. After her passing away in 1873, Ernesto continued his piano studies and began composing. His first piece, the polka "Você Bem Sabe" was written and published when he was just 14 years of age. He had and open ear for the popular music beeing played in the streets and favoured by choro musicians, his own works for piano were influenced by maxixe, lundu, habañera and choro. Nonetheless, as a classical musician he would not allow such popular denominations into his own music, instead he would classify his pieces as i.e. 'Brazilian tangos'.
Nazareth worked as a pianist at the prestigious movie theater Odeon of Rio de Jainero, where he wrote one of his most famous compositions, "Odeon". Many musicians would go to the Odeon theater just to see and hear Nazareth play. Later he got a job at a music shop to support his living ang growing family, there he was hired to play the sheets asked for by customers. Among the music sheets were his own compositions and according to some sources he was very demanding towards people, who themselves would try to play his pieces, frequently telling the possible buyer to interrupt the performance!
By the late 1920'ies Nazareth began facing hearing problems that worsened towards the end of his life. A depression following the passing away of his daughter and wife intesified the decay of his mental health - he was hospitalizied in 1933 and died the following year.
Ernesto Nazareth left a legacy of compositions favoured by both classical and popular musicians. His first composition labeled 'choro' is "Apanhei-te Cavaquinho", other well-known pieces are "Brejeiro", "Ameno Resedá", "Bambino", "Dengoso", "Travesso", "Fon Fon" and "Tenebroso". Nazareth's works remain a core repertoire of Brazilian choro, performed by numerous artists in various settings to this day.
The above info was supplied from an artist profile at AllBrazilianMusic
More about Ernesto Nazareth including soundclips to be found here

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Chiquinha Gonzaga

Francisca Edwiges Neves Gonzaga, known as "Chiquinha", (1847-1935) was the first important female composer and performer of popular music in Brazil. She was born as an illegitimate child, but fortunately her farther recognized her as his own and provided her with an education that included musical training. She participated in piano recitals throughout her youth and demonstrated execeptional skill. Her desire at a young age to pursue music professionally, however, was abandoned by her family. At age 13 she was forced into an arranged marriage but by 18 had already left her husbund to become a single mother, who played the piano to support her children. As a result of this she was declared dead by her former family! However, over time Chiquinha succeeded in making a living and a name for herself as a performer, composer and piano teacher.
Gonzaga was the first female to be allowed attending the social and musical fraternity of choro musicians, helped by her friend Joaquin Calado - the first composer of music in the choro style. Chiquinha started composing in the choro style too and had success with the piece "Corta-jaca" from 1897. Later she would be engaged in composing and arranging music for the popular theater. She was also a dedicated participant in the abolition movement and engaged further in the protection of authors' and composers' rights. By the time of her death in 1935, her musical works included a great number of theater pieces as well as sacred music, besides popular music including maxixes, marches and choros. Her legacy as an important composer of Brazilian popular music continues today.
The info above was provided from a paragraph in 'Choro, A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music' by Tamara Elena Livingston-Isenhour & Thomas George Characas Garcia (Indiana University Press, 2005), p.73-76
A career profile available at AMG
Soundclips of some of Gonzaga's recorded pieces available at clickmusic

Monday, June 26, 2006

Raphael Rabello - Cry My Guitar

Ten years after the passing away of the great Brazilian guitar virtuoso, Raphael Rabello (1962-1995), the GSP label released his last recordings, made shortly before his untimely death, in 2005. Raphael Rabello excelled his skills as a guitar player in the choro style as well as other genres, these solo recordings are a testimony of his capacity to add his personal touch to the music played, whatever the genre. Recommended!
Further info and a review at the GSP website
Soundclips and more appraisal here

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Água de Moringa

Last summer I had the pleasure to enjoy a live performance featuring the group Choro Brasil Scandinavia at the Copenhagen Jazzfestival. A couple of members of this Scandinavian-Brasilian choro ensemble, Marcillo Lopes (man) and Jayme Vignoli (cav), are also members of the Brasilian award winning group, Água de Moringa. Their secound album "Saracoteando" (1998), yielded two awards to the band: best group and best arranger (Josimar Carneiro), both in the Instrumental Music category. In 2002, they released a third album, with previously unreleased music by Pixinguinha. I highly recommend this album as an example of contemporary choro incorporating the best of the tradition in an up to date performance.

Água de Moringa: As Inéditas de Pixinguinha (Sony Clássicos Brasileiros 2-502762)
Rui Alvim (clarinet & bass clarinet)
Marcílio Lopes (bandolim & tenor guitar)
Jayme Vignoli (cavaquinho)
Luiz Flavio Alcofra (guitar)
Josimar Gomes Carneiro (7-string guitar)
André “Boxexa” Santos (drums & percussion)
Humberto Araújo (tenor sax)—track 7
Cristóvão Bastos (piano)—track 10
Eliseu Moreira Costa (atabaque)—track 1
Zero & Gordinho (percussion)—tracks 4, 9, 13
Soundclips available at clickmusic

Saturday, June 24, 2006

New Choros of Brazil by Paulo Bellinati & Harvey Wainapel

"New Choros of Brazil"(Proteus Entertainment 0016, 2005) is exactly as the title describes, a contemporary choro repertoire which was mostly written in the past few years expressly for guitarist Paulo Bellinati and clarinetist Harvey Wainapel. Although guitar and flute has been a common duet format in the past, the guitar/clarinet combination heard on "New Choros" is novel but nonetheless exhilarating despite such a minimalist pairing.
More info about the CD at Paulo Bellinati's website
Soundclips available here
Info for this posting supplied from a short review by Alan Fark at the Minor 7th web

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ademilde Fonseca - The Queen of Choro

Choro is mostly instrumental, but there are exceptions of importance, one of them beeing the vocal contributions by Ademilde Fonseca (b 1921) of choro classics such as "Brasileirinho" and "Tico-tico no fúba". Ademilde Fonseca was elected 'Queen of Choro' following a successful career as a vocalist that spanned from the early '40'ies to the late 90'ies, her recordings, performances and cooperation with renowned choro composers and musicians are now highly estimated in Brazil and elsewhere.

A career profile in AMG by Alvaro Neder: "Moving at age four to Natal RN, with her family, Fonseca frequented the local serestas at a very early age, later marrying one of the participating musicians, Naldimar Gedeão Delfim. After the marriage, she moved to Rio in 1941, opening in Renato Murce's novice show Papel Carbono at the Rádio Clube do Brasil the next year. Also in 1942, she had success singing "Tico-tico no Fubá" (Zequinha de Abreu) with the regional of Benedito Lacerda. In July, she had her first record released, Tico-tico no Fubá. The album was received with success. In 1943, she recorded "Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho" (Ernesto Nazareth/João de Barro) and "Urubu Malandro" (adaptation by Lourival de Carvalho). Acknowledged as a successful singer, she became a requested professional by several composers. In 1944, she was hired by Rádio Tupi (Rio), performing with the regionais of Rogério Guimarães and Claudionor Cruz. In the next year, her recording of the polka "Rato, Rato" consecrated her as the best singer of the choro genre. Accompanied by Garoto and the Conjunto Bossa Clube in the last recording, Fonseca would also record new choros by Garoto ("Sonhador," "Celestial," "Meu Cavaquinho") with the same sidemen, an all-star team, in fact (Valzinho, Luís Bittencourt, Luís Bonfá, Garoto, Zimbres, Sebastião Gomes, and Hanestaldo). With the decline of choro in the '40s, her prestige also decayed, but she had hits again in the '50s with "Brasileirinho" (by Waldir Azevedo, lyrics added later by Pereira da Costa) and "Teco-teco" (Pereira da Costa/Milton Vilela), accompanied in both by the regional of Waldir Azevedo. In 1952, she performed in Paris, France, accompanied by Severino Araújo's Orquestra Tabajara. She recorded several albums that became hits until 1955. She also had noted participation at Rádio Nacional, having been accompanied by the regionais of Canhoto, Jacob do Bandolim, and Pixinguinha, and the orchestras of Radamés Gnattali and Chiquinho. In 1964, she toured through Portugal and Spain with singer Jamelão, performing six months in Lisbon. In 1967, the decline of choro was felt under the weight of a gross injustice when she was booed, together with Pixinguinha, who was accompanying her in "Fala Baixinho" (Pixinguinha/Hermínio Bello de Carvalho) at the II FIC. In 1970, she had success in shows at the Teatro Opinião, with her hits being reissued on the Top Tape LP of 1975. Also recorded in that decade was "Títulos de Nobreza -- Ademilde no Choro" (João Bosco/Aldir Blanc). In 1997, she recorded the CD Ademilde Fonseca -- Rainha do Choro with RGE."
You may listen to sound clips by Ademilde Fonseca at clickmusic

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Waldir Azevedo - The Composer of "Brasileirinho"

Waldir Azevedo (27-01 1923 - 21-09 1980) is deservedly called a master of the cavaquinho, the small 4-string guitar of Portuguese origin, but essential in the Brazilian choro tradition. He was a pioneer in exploring the cavaquinho as a solo instrument, composed more than 130 pieces and made numerous recordings. Azevedo's work as a soloist helped making the cavaquinho a respectable and important solo voice in choro, much in the same way as Jacob do Bandolim did according the Brazilian mandolin (bandolim). Outside Brazil Azevedo today is mostly remembered for his world-famous hits, the compositions of "Brasileirinho" and "Delicado", recorded by numerous orchestras, groups and solists worldwide besides more times by Azevedo himself.

Alvaro Neder writes a career profile of Azevedo in AMG: "Azevedo's first instrument was the flute, at age seven. Soon he also learned mandolin and then cavaquinho. Learning the six- and seven-string violões (acoustic guitars), he performed in public for the first time on the flute, in 1933. His wish was to become an aviator, but his cardiac condition impeded it. Singing and playing the tenor violão he joined the group Águias de Prata, which performed at the Copacabana Palace and recorded an album for Victor. Meanwhile, he was employed at Light Company. As Dilermando Reis needed a cavaquinho player for his regional, Azevedo was auditioned at Rádio Clube right in the middle of his honeymoon and got the job, holding the position for two years. In 1947, Reis departed for his solo career and Azevedo took the leadership of the regional. He accompanied hundreds of artists, from novice to star, and began to draw the attention of the listeners towards his own compositions. As the recording company Continental was in the same building, he was invited to record his piece "Brasileirinho," after several radio performances. The invitation coincided with the departure of Jacob do Bandolim, his biggest rival, from Continental to RCA Victor. "Brasileirinho," released in December [1949], was a huge success from the start. The '50s also were productive for Azevedo, who recorded other big hits like the baião "Delicado," the choro "Pedacinhos do Céu," "Chiquita," and "Vê se Gostas," among others. Azevedo toured South America and Europe for 11 years, including two tours sponsored by the Brazilian diplomatic service Itamarati, the Caravanas da Música Brasileira. In London, England, he appeared in a BBC show broadcast to 52 countries. In 1964, a car accident killed his daughter, which pushed him into a dark period of depression. In 1967 he learned to read and write music. In 1971, living in Brasília DF, he suffered an accident in which he almost lost his third finger and had to abandon music for one and a half years. After several surgeries, he returned to live performance in 1974, at the Clube do Choro of Brasília. Enjoying the choro revival of the '70s, Azevedo soon began to record again and to perform in TV shows."
You may listen to Ademilde Fonseca's vocal rendition of "Brasileirinho" by clicking here


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Américo Jacomino 'Canhoto'

Américo Jacomino 'Canhoto' (12/02 1889 - 7/9 1928) is considered one of the originators of the Brazilian guitar tradition, also of major importance regarding the founding of the guitar choro. His composition 'Abismo de Rosas', a valsa-choro, has been the piece-de-resistance of many a pretending player of the violão (6 string guitar) showing off his or hers skills and knowledge on the guitar choro tradition. As a result of this 'Abismo de Rosas' has also been recorded by numerous Brazilian guitarists, i.e. Dilermando Reis and Garoto just to name a couple of the most famous. Américo Jacomino 'Canhoto' also recorded the piece himself in the early days of record production in Brazil, and finally all of his recorded works now has been released on a double-cd by the Revivendo label, specializing in issueing historical as well as contemporary recordings of Brazil choro.

Alvaro Neder writes about Américo Jacomino 'Canhoto' in AMG: "Canhoto learned to play the guitar with his older brother. As a left-hander, Canhoto never changed the order of the strings, playing the violão (guitar) in the inverted position, which granted his lifelong nickname (which means "left-handed man"). In 1907, he met the famous singer Paraguaçu and started to accompany him in performances during silent movies. In 1913, Canhoto was already enjoying good fame and recorded for the first time for the label Odeon. Three years later, one of his two earliest pieces was "Acordes do Violão," later known as "Abismo de Rosas," one of the classic pieces of the instrumental repertory of the Brazilian violão. With the soon-to-be lyrical singer Abigail Alessio and the actor Viterbo Azevedo, he formed a trio which toured through several cities but was dissolved with Azebedo's murder. Canhoto's production of music for the carnival also had expression; he successfully launched "Ai, Balbina" (with Arlindo Leal, 1920) and "Já Se Acabô" (also with Leal, 1921). Canhoto recorded his other instrumental classic for the guitar, "Marcha dos Marinheiros," in 1926. Francisco Alves re-recorded his samba "Só na Bahia É Que Tem." Voted the King of the Barzilian Violão in a contest in Rio de Janeiro, he returned to São Paulo and formed the Turunas Paulistas group. Canhoto continued to record and perform until his demise."

The shown double-cd has just been released in Brazil and may be ordered online at Revivendo. Click here or on picture to order online.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bonfiglio de Oliveira - Trumpet Ace of Brazil Choro

If you liked the music beeing played in the trailer of Mika Kaurismäki's film, Brasileirinho, you would probably ask who composed this excellent choro, here performed by brass players accompanied by the Trio Madeira Brasil. The answer to that question is the name of Bonfíglio de Oliveira, the legendary Brazilian trumpeter and composer. Bonfíglio de Oliveira (27-9-1894 to 16-5-1940) is deservedly hailed as a remarkable performer of the trumpet in choro.
Alvaro Neder writes about him in AMG: "He first learned musical concepts from his father, a double-bassist. He played kick drums with Banda Beneficiente, soon joining Banda Mafra as trumpeter. His first song was written when he was at school, the military march "Padre Frederico Gióia." He then formed a band that performed in upstate São Paulo. In one of those performances, de Oliveira was heard by conductor Lafaiete Silva, who hired him for the orchestra that played at the cinema Ouvidor. He completed his musical studies and worked extensively as a double-bassist and trumpeter in several orchestras and groups,including the Orquestra Sinfônica do Teatro Municipal, conducted by Francisco Braga. In 1917, with Pixinguinha, he participated in Grupo de Caxangá. In the '30s he performed on Programa Casé, both as a soloist and a member of the studio orchestra." - About his role as a composer, Alvaro Neder mentions the following: 'He also excelled as a composer, with several marchas-rancho, the march "Carolina" (a hit of the Carnival of 1934, written with Hervé Cordovil), the waltzes "Glória" (with lyrics by Branca M. Coelho and recorded in 1931 by Gastão Formenti) and "Mar de Espanha," the song "Frô do Ipê" (lyrics by Nelson Abreu), and the choro "Flamengo" (recorded in 1931 by de Oliveira on trumpet)."- Moreover Neder states, that '(...) De Oliveira was the trumpeter for Pixinguinha's Grupo da Guarda Velha in 1932, continuing in the group when it became Diabos do Céu. He was also diretor de harmonia of the famous rancho Ameno Resedá. De Oliveira toured through Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal."
The title of the composition by de Oliveira beeing played on the soundtrack of the Brasileirinho-trailer (- it's on the cd also) is 'O bom filho a casa Torna' according to the sleeve info of the cd release of the Brasileirinho soundtrack (-track 07 on the cd). I have not been able to locate this in the Funarte database of Brazilian recordings, but in my ears this tune is the same as the one recorded by Bonfiglio de Oliveira himself on 08.06.1932 as LEMBRANCAS DO PASSADO (VICTOR, 33570-A, mx 65510). You may listen to this recording by consulting the online search facility at the Instituto Moreira Salles.

Brasileirinho - Choro in Rio. Soundtrack CD

During this month the DVD version of Mika Kaurismäki's documentary on Bazil choro is to be released in more countries of Europe, i.e. France the 20th , The Netherlands the 22th of June. Of course I am anxious to have my copy and view this film, but until then I'll add a few words regarding the soundtrack from the film that has been released on the shown cd above (Tropical Music, 68.853 - available online, click on picture). The cd contains the soundtrack recordings from the film in full length, so this will be a needed supplement to the dvd, if you like the music performed in the film. The performers on the cd are members of the Trio Madeira Brasil and guests - the trio consisting of Marcello Goncalves (g), Zé Paulo Becker (g) and Ronaldo Souza (man), among the guests are Yamandú Costa (g), Paulo Moura (cl,ss), Maurice Carrilho (g), Luciana Rabello (cav), Joel Nascimento (man) and more. The music is recordings of the live performances that are featured in the film, and you'll hear excellent samples of classic choro compositions by Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Ernesto Nazareth a.o. in up-to-date versions either by the trio alone or augmented with guests, altogether creating a great musical success with the audience and this listener. I strongly recommend this soundtrack-release as an exemplary sample of the strength of contemporary Brazil choro tradition. Moreover, the cd has a bonus video-track containing the trailer of the film, which may be viewed by clicking here.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Choro Music

Choro is the soul of Brazilian music is one of those quotes that is used to write about this music.

It was founded in the late 1800s around Rio de Janeiro as a music style that combined European dance music, like walzes and polka's with African rhythms as played by former slaves from Africa.
If you read this, it gives me a feeling that I read these lines before in books about the origin of jazz. Choro means crying in Portugueze - what is the meaning of the word Blues?
Choro is mostly instrumental, it gives a lot of space for improvisation and virtuosity, like jazz music.
The typically Choro instruments are the guitar, the seven-string guitar (it is, in fact playing the bass part), the cavaquinho. a small guitar of Portuguese origin, used to play solos, the pandeiro, a kind of tambourine instrument, that gives the swinging rhythm. In the early times flute and clarinet were popular as solo instruments, later more instruments could be used for that part.

If you compare Choro with jazz music you'll find more interesting facts both styles have in common.
Maybe that's the reason that it felt very familiar when I heard a live choro band playing ( in my case Choro Brazil Scandinavia) for the very first time in July 2005 in Copenhagen.

Jørgen, who introduced me to that concert (thanks again Jo), wrote a very interesting article about this music. He introduces choro music using some of the recordings he has in his collection. If names like Pixinguinha, Jaco do Bandolim or Garoto make you anxious don't miss it. Enjoy it.

Guitar Choro by Jørgen Larsen

Another interesting link tells about a
history of choros in context by Marilynn Mair.

Another one about Garoto one of the great choro musicians.

This contribution was previous released at my Keep Swinging blogspot. If you want to have your contributions published about Choro music please contact me.