Friday, December 28, 2007

'Brasileirinho' Revisited

Mika Kaurismäki's excellent documentary on Choro in Rio, Brasileirinho (2005), deserves to be viewed more than once - the atmosphere of the film, the great performance by contemporary stars of choro is spellbinding and persuades you to watch the movie over again. At least, this is the way I felt after watching the film for the first time, since then I have seen it two or three times more - last time during this week of Christmas. I am not going to give you an abstract of the film, the story and its background may be found at the official website of the film, click on headline to learn more. Instead I'll insert three scenes of great performance from the film that have been uploaded at YouTube. But before doing so I have a proposal to our readers and regular visitors of this blog.

The Choro-Music blogspot started in June 2006 inspired by Mika Kaurismäki's documentary and has aimed to collect and share available info on essential artists and choro recordings, up till now more than 130 entries have been posted by the editors of the blog. However, if the blog is going to be continued on a regular basis, we need a little help from our readers. I propose you to be a guest contributor of the Choro-Music blog, if you have info, stories, pictures, recordings, comments etc. you would like to discuss and share with our readers. Also, if you are doing research on certain aspects of choro and related music, please feel free to share your work or work-in-progress with the readers of this blog. Send your proposals, contributions or comments to and be a guest contributor of the Choro-Music blog! Maybe you're first in line to have your contribution published here!

As mentioned above, I have revisited Mika Kaurismäki's Brasileirinho this week. Below I insert three scenes from the documentary that have been uploaded at YouTube. The first scene is from the beginning of the film, Trio Madeira Brasil performing Jacob do Bandolim's "Santa Morena"

The next scene is from an outdoor roda de choro featuring the contemporary stars of choro in a performance of Pixinguinha's 'Cochichando'

The last scene is from the concert hall featuring Yamadu Costa and Trio Madeira Brasil a.o., a performance of the tune 'Machcando'

A Happy New Year - Um feliz Ano Novo


Friday, December 21, 2007

Uma História do Choro

During the past week I finally had my copy of the 2-cd set, 'Uma História do Choro', released earlier this fall by the Deckdisc label. The cds are produced by Henrique Cazes, cavaquinho player and choro historian, and the Japanese musicproducer, Katsunori Tanaka, who has produced several recordings by Brazilian artists - the cd-set was issued in both Brazil and Japan at the same time during October.

In the accompanying booklet the producers tell about the idea of the project, which was to re-create notable music of the choro tradition in a contemporary setting performed by contemporary choro musicians to exemplify choro as a living tradition in Brazil of today. The aim of the project has succeeded, the music performed on the two discs is a strong document in favour of the fact that choro is still very much alive, I think. It's a thrill to learn that Brazilians seriously take care of their musical culture through projects like this.

The two cds have 28 tracks in all, 14 on each, and the tracks are organized in a chronological order so that the musical examples tell the story of choro from the beginning till now. Each track has desricptive notes on the background of the chosen music in the accompanying booklet, further a list of personnel of participating musicians - the booklet is in both Portuguese and English. The choice of musical composers and compositions represent notable examples from the story of choro and are a result of a compromise, as not all branches of choro and variations can be contained in a project like this - thus, the title of the cd-set is singular and stresses the fact that other stories could be told, too. Among represented composers of choro there are examples from Patápio Silva to Anacleto de Medeiros, Joaquim Callado, Ernesto Nazareth, Chiquinha Gonzaga, Pixinguinha, Luperce Miranda, Waldir Azevedo, Garoto, Jacob do Bandolim, Radamés Gnattali, a.o. Among more than 30 participating contemporary musicians are Henrique Cazes (cavaquinho, violão tenor, el-g), Alexandre Maionese, Leonardo Miranda (flute), Paulo Sérgio Santos, Rui Alvim (clarinette), Maria Teresa Madeira (piano), Silvério Pontes (trumpet), Zé da Velha (trombone), Zé Paulo Becker and Marcello Gonçalves (6 & 7 string guitar) - the list is too long to quote here. Click on picture to read the tracklist.

As mentioned above, I think the project of telling the story of choro in music by contemporary performers has succeeded, the cd-set is highly recommended and essential, if you are seriously interested in choro and its tradition in a contemporary setting.

The first track of the cd-set is a reading of Joaquim Callado's "Flor Amorosa", a composition that ranks among the first of the genre, from 1870. Below I insert a video performance of "Flor Amorosa"

Merry Christmas - Feliz Natal!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Villa-Lobos - Guitar & Choro

Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959), the world-famous Brazilian composer of more than 800 works in the field of classical music, was heavily inspired and influenced by the choro, which he once described as the integral translation of the Brazilian soul in the form of music.
Villa-Lobos began studying music at an early age, when his father, an amateur musician, taught him to play cello, viola, and guitar. These early influences later became evident in the orchestration of some of his more prominent works. Although he intended to enter school to study medicine, Villa-Lobos soon found that he preferred spending time with the local popular musicians, becoming familiar with the various musical styles native to Rio de Janeiro's street and night life. Among other skills, he learned to improvise guitar melodies by observing and studying choro guitarists, and he would actually develop a five finger playing teqnique in the right hand to obtain a richer sound of the instrument than usually made possible by applying a traditional classical right-hand technique. - To give you an impression of his ability and skills as a guitarist, I found a short film fragment showing Villa-Lobos playing a part of one of his own compositions for guitar, the Prelude No. 2

From the ages of 18 to 25 Villa-Lobos traveled extensively throughout Brazil and the African-influenced Caribbean nations, collecting themes and assessing the major style characteristics of the local musics. When he returned to Rio de Janeiro in 1912, Villa-Lobos briefly attempted to receive a more formalized education, but his personality and musical practice proved ill-matched with the academic establishment and, although he made important connections with the faculty, he soon left classes. He spent the next ten years composing and playing freelance cello in cafes and cinemas to earn a living. - From 1923 to 1930, Villa-Lobos found himself centered in Paris, where he was a huge success, his music being widely published and frequently performed. It was during his stay in Europe that he met with Segovia, the great maestro of the classical guitar, who would play and promote Villa-Lobos' guitar compositions to an European audience. - I found a video of Segovia performing Villa-Lobos' Study No. 1 in Em

Villa-Lobos eventually returned to Brazil, becoming one of the most esteemed artists of the new Nationalist regime, which lasted until 1945. During the 1930s, Villa-Lobos involved himself deeply and enthusiastically with public music education, once again traveling throughout Brazil to offer his services as a teacher and school coordinator. In 1945, his passion reached the ultimate fruition when he founded the Brazilian Academy of Music. He spent the last ten years of his life traveling and conducting, primarily in New York and Paris.

As mentioned above, Villa-Lobos was heavyly influenced by choro in his own work as a composer, and throughout his career he composed 12 pieces of music in the genre, 5 of them for solo guitar, the remaining for small ensemble or full symphonic orchestration. His choros for solo guitar have become standards within the repertoire of classical master class guitar performance. To give you an impression of Villa-Lobos' choro compositions for solo guitar, I insert a video performance by David Russell playing Choro tipico no 1


Friday, December 07, 2007


This time of the year record retailers and online-stores offering cds/music for sale are busy handling orders from people to be supplied before the Christmas holidays later this month. This often means that you have to be a patient customer to have your ordered items, I know the situation, as I have been waiting for some time to have a couple of interesting items for my collection of choro, not yet received.

Recently I read a small preview of a double disc, 'Uma História do Choro', released by the Deckdisc label late October. According to the info available this two cds are a result of a project initiated by Henrique Cazes, cavaquinho virtuoso and choro historian. The aim of this project has been to relive the story of choro through 28 recordings of examples of notable choro composers by contemporary musicians excelling their skills in the choro genre. Learn more about the item by clicking the picture.

Another item that has caught my interest is a recently published Songbook, 'Choro volume 1', by journalist Sérgio Cabral and the composer and musician Mário Séve, containing 97 choros in written music and accompanying text. The book is published by Lumiar and definitely may be a crucial item to add to your collection of choro, if you like to play choro yourself. Learn more about the contents by clicking the picture.
If this small pre-view of the two mentioned items has caught your interest, both items are available through the online facility of Samba Store
Searching YouTube for examples of choro or related performed on solo guitar, I found a video I like to share this time to fill in the interregnum between news at this blog spot. The video is uploaded by an American - an accomplished guitarist, who has his contribution uploaded under the name of troubleclef. - Enjoy troubleclef's rendition of "Aristocrática" (Schottisch-Choro). Music by Paulo Bellinati