Friday, November 30, 2007

Zé Menezes Relendo Garoto

Earlier this year InterCDRecords of Brazil re-issued the shown cd by Zé Menezes, 'Relendo Garoto' ( cd 789550923504-5) licensed from the RGE-Som Livre label and originally released 1998. The 14 tracks on the cd were recorded during January 1998 and contain music composed by Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha, 1915-1955), the great Brazilian master of all plucked instruments. Zé Menezes (b 1921) is one of few recording artists I've heard, who has managed to revive Garoto's music in a way that recreates the atmosphere of the original recordings, maybe because Menezes himself is a master of both the violão, the violão tenor, bandolim, cavaquinho and the electric guitar and uses most of the mentioned instruments in this recording. Zé Menezes has made the arrangements of the performed music, and on half of the tracks he is accompanied by a string ensemble consisting of violin, viola and double bass plus rhythm, the remaining tracks are solo renditions. The cd is a great tribute to Garoto's music, fortunately made available again, highly recommended!

Tracklist inserted below. Click on headline for further discographical info; info about the career of Zé Menezes to be found clicking here

1. Quanto Dói uma Saudade; 2. Gente Humilde; 3. Meditando; 4. Vivo Sonhando; 5. Tristeza de um Violão; 6. Meditação; 7. Gracioso; 8. Duas Contas; 9. Improviso; 10. Desvairada; 11. Esperança12. Inspiração; 13. Voltarei; 14. São Paulo Quatrocentão

It's a thrill to learn that Zé Menezes at age 86 is still an active performer, participating in shows and making recordings with a new generation of skilled Brazilian musicians. I found a short video clip, recorded at a concert recently. Unfortunately, sound and image qulity is not the best, however, hope you to enjoy anyway.


Friday, November 23, 2007

'Tico-Tico' Celebration

2007 has been a year of several celebrations regarding choro, notable choro composers like Pixinguinha and Chiquinha Gonzaga have been brought into the spotlight and officially celebrated in Brazil through various events - yet another sign that choro is kept well alive and being a living tradition in contemporary Brazil. However, outside Brazil choro and choro music still is rather unknown to the general public - except for one single composition. Everybody seems to know a version of Zequinha de Abreu's "Tico-Tico no Fubá", which may be the most performed choro ever. If you click on headline, you have the possibility of downloading and listening to 61 different versions of the tune, compiled by an American radio station - a good example of the composition's ability of surviving various musical attempts.

"Tico-Tico no Fubá" was composed by Zequinha de Abreu in 1917, which means the tune has been around for 90 years. It was first recorded in 1931 by the Orchestra Colbaz and later made famous through Carmen Miranda's recordings and performances of the tune in movies and on stage in the USA, introducing a craze for Latin Amerincan music and performers in the States throughout the 40's and early 50's, a decade before bossa nova and the new wave became a trend in the Western world. - Let's celebrate 'Tico-tico' and choro enjoying one of Carmen Miranda's performances of the tune:

Perhaps the most well known recordings of "Tico Tico" in America were those made by the first lady of the organ, Miss Ethel Smith on the Hammond. I found an example of a filmed performance by Ethel Smith:

As mentioned above, "Tico-tico" seems to be a tune known by everybody, the music has challenged all kind of musicians to make their own contribution of the music. Here is a contribution by a performer of the ukulele:

Dutchmen seem to have their own way of performing "Tico-tico" judging from the last video this time celebrating the tune's 90 years. Have a healthy laugh enjoying "The Flying Dutchmen":


Friday, November 16, 2007

Isaías e seus Chorões

Isaías e seus Chorões of São Paulo first appeared in 1970. The group was formed by two brothers, Isaías Bueno de Almeida (b 1937) and Israel Bueno de Almeida (b 1943) . Isaías took to the bandolim as a self-taught student at age ten, and soon became a member of a regional. Israel started in music a little after his brother, taking to the cavaquinho and later violão 7 cordas. The two brothers started to play together in amateur shows in 1953, but soon was professionally involved with the music scene.

As a Jacob do Bandolim protégé, Isaías had the necessary attention to develop his artistry, becoming the most important bandolinist of São Paulo. At the same time, he had to fight Jacob do Bandolim's authoritarian character, as do Bandolim was expressly adverse to improvisation in choro, and Isaías was an enthusiast of that musical expression. By his turn, Israel developed interests in different genres like jazz and bossa nova, the result of which shows underneath his elaborate harmonic accompaniments, not common in traditional choro.

They both joined the famous Conjunto Atlântico beginning in 1955, participating in several choro programs at the state-run TV Cultura in São Paulo. In 1970 they formed Isaías e seus Chorões, as mentioned. The ensemble soon became São Paulo's most important choro group.

Isaías e seus Chorões has accompanied Elizeth Cardoso, Paulinho da Viola, Altamiro Carrilho, Sílvio Caldas, Nelson Gonçalves, and Arthur Moreira Lima, among others. The group also participated in important historic events such as a celebration of Waldir Azevedo's career at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo.

"Pé na Cadeira" (Kuarup, KCD122, iss.1999) is a representative album by Isaías e seus Chorões. - Tracklist inserted below:
1) Sofres Porque Queres (Pixinguinha/ Benedito Lacerda); 2) Fricotes de viúva (Amador Pinho); 3) Choro Triste Nº 2 (Garoto); 4) Salomé (Callado); 5) Valsa do Além (Mario Moretti Filho); 6) Tão Só (Isaias); 7) Pé na cadeira (Viché); 8) Músicos e Poetas (Sivuca);9) A César o que é de César (Bonfiglio de Oliveira); 10) Soros (Israel Bueno de Almeida); 11) Carnaval duvidoso (Carramona); 12) Cuidado com Ele (Nelson Alves)
I found a video of a live-performance by Isaías e seus Chorões from 2005, here playing "Lamentos" by Pixinguinha - hope you to enjoy!


Friday, November 09, 2007

"Vamos Acabar com o Baile" [Let's stop the dance]

Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha) (1915-1955) remains a constant icon in Brazilian music thanks to his musical legacy, documented through the recordings he made and the compositions he wrote towards the end of his life. Garoto has had a lasting impact on the concept of playing the violão in Brazil being the first to explore new directions in choro and samba, inspired and influenced by American jazz harmony and classical composers like i.e. Debussy. Moreover, Garoto was a multi-string virtuoso devoting his skills to almost all plucked instruments: violão (6 string acoustic guitar), electric guitar, tenor guitar, banjo, cavaquinho, bandolim and even the Hawaiian steel guitar. Such a multi-faced tallent is hard to cope with, only few other figures in Brazilian music have dared to explore his tallent in all aspects. However, this does not mean that Garoto's music haven't been played and recorded by other artists, on the contrary, notable examples being Paulo Bellinati's recording of Garoto's guitar works from 1991, the various contributions by Raphael Rabello and the tribute release by Zé Menezes from 1998 a.o..

Just recently a new cd featuring musical compositions by Garoto has been released, 'Vamos Acabar com o Baile' by Henrique Cazes & Marcello Gonçalves on the Deckdisc label (click headline). The cd is a result of a project initiated by Henrique Cazes, cavaquinho virtuose, producer and music historian. To cellebrate his 30 years in music Henrique Cazes has joined forces with 7-string guitar virtuoso Marcello Gonçalves of Trio Madeira Brasil in an excellent tribute to Garoto's music by recording 13 of Garoto's compositions in a duo setting. The mentioned cd has Henrique Cazes playing both the cavaquinho and a tenor guitar similar to the one played by Garoto - it took Cazes 15 years to get this instrument he told in a recent interview. The interplay between Cazes and Gonçalves is just marvellous, the two musicians know each other in and out from an earlier collaboration devoted to Pixinguinha's music, the result being a recording that without doubt will rank among the highest rated of 2007 in the instrumental category. Highly recommended! - Tracklist inserted below.

1 - Gente Humilde; 2 - Vamos Acabar com o Baile; 3 - Sempre Perto de Você; 4 - Desvairada; 5 - Gracioso; 6 - Benny Goodman no Choro; 7 - Amoroso; 8 - Jorge do Fusa; 9 - Puxa - Puxa; 10 - Meditando (incidental: Esperança); 11 - Sinal dos Tempos; 12 - Duas Contas; 13 - Lamentos no Morro

This contribution is the 125th entry at the Choro Music blogspot.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Luíz Bonfá

One of the best known Brazilian musicians probably is Luíz Bonfá (1922-2001), composer, arranger, singer and exceptional guitarist.
Bonfá was born on October 17, 1922 in Rio de Janeiro. He began teaching himself to play guitar as a child; he studied in Rio with Uruguayan classical guitarist Isaías Sávio from the age of twelve.
Bonfá first gained widespread exposure in Brazil in 1947 when he was featured on Rio's Radio Nacional, then an important showcase for up-and-coming talent. He was a member of the vocal group 'Quitandinha Serenaders' in the late 1940s. Some of his compositions were recorded and performed by Brazilian crooner Dick Farney in the 1950s. It was through Farney that Bonfá was introduced to Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, the leading songwriting team behind the worldwide explosion of Brazilian jazz/pop music in the late 1950s and 1960s. Bonfá collaborated with these and with other prominent Brazilian musicians and artists in productions of de Moraes' anthological play 'Orfeu da Conceição', which several years later gave origin to Marcel Camus' legendary film, 'Black Orpheus'.
As a composer and performer, Bonfá was at heart an exponent of the samba-canção style that predated the arrival of João Gilberto's bossa nova style.
Bonfá lived in the USA from the early 1960s until 1975. He worked with American musicians such as Quincy Jones, George Benson, Stan Getz, and Frank Sinatra, recording several albums while in America. Bonfá remained well-connected in the US after returning to Brazil, but his profile receded into relative obscurity during his final decades.
Bonfá died in Rio de Janeiro on January 12, 2001, 78 years old.
Bonfá's major legacy continues to be his compositions from the 'Black Orpheus' soundtrack, most notably the instantly recognizable classic 'Manhã da Carnaval.' But Bonfá's huge discography also attests to his uniquely inventive mastery of various Brazilian guitar styles.
--- above info excerpeted from a profile article in Wikipedia ---
Recently the radio feature 'O Violão Brasileiro' by Fábio Zanon devoted a program to the music and guitar playing of Luíz Bonfá, the program may be downloaded from Fábio Zanon's blog, click here to download.

Fábio Zanon also points to three video performances featuring Luíz Bonfá, inserted below.

The first video is from an American TV-program hosted by Perry Como and recorded 1963, Bonfá plays 'Sambolero' and his arrangement of 'Tenderly':

From another TV-program hosted by Mike Douglas in 1966, Bonfá plays his composition 'Menina Flor':

Also from the 1966 TV-program, Bonfá plays 'Batucada' and performs 'Manhã de Carnaval' together with Mike Douglas: