Friday, June 27, 2008

Sempre Jacob!

JACOB PICK BITTENCOURT (1918-1969) aka Jacob do Bandolim is an immortal name in the field of famous choro musicians, who - like Pixinguinha - helped shaping this Brazilian music style in the way we know it today. Jacob do Bandolim left a heritage of recordings, music compositions and a huge compilation of collected manuscripts from years of research of known as well as unknown choro composers. The legacy of Jacob do Bandolim is carefully documented by INSTITUTO JACOB DO BANDOLIM that has its own informative website (- in Portuguese only) to be reached clicking here
Items still searched for by the INSTITUTO DO JACOB BANDOLIM are motion pictures of Jacob performing, no material seems to have been saved by television or by collectors - the intitut has a reward of R$ 2.000,00 for people, who can supply motion picture recordings featuring Jacob - the only sequence yet available is a silent movie (c.35 sec) of an interview, here applied with a sound track of Jacob's famous choro composition "Assanhando"

Recently I found a video documenting snap shots of Jacob do Bandolim's life and career, the still photos are accompanied by Jacob's recording of "Vibrações" and you also can hear his voice introducing this video document

Perhaps one of the best ways to preserve Jacob do Bandolim's musical heritage is to play his music! New generations of choro musicians have carried on his legacy since his passing away in 1969. To end this small contribution, I insert a video featuring a young bandolim player accompanied by his father to show you an uplifting example. Enjoy young Fernandinho playing his rendition of Jacob's "Assanhando"


Friday, June 20, 2008

Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho

The tune 'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' was composed 1915 by Ernesto Nazareth and is considered the second most recorded choro by Nazareth next to his 'Odeon'. Actually, the piece 'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' is a polca in terms of musical form, but the tune has always been considered a typical choro, as it was adapted early on by choro musicians as part of their standard repertoire. The composition originally was dedicated to the then famous cavaquinho player, Mário Cavaquinho (Mário Álvares da Conceição), a friend of Nazareth and a virtuosic musician, who is said to have invented the five string cavaquinho together with Ary Vasconcelos according to some sources.

'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' was recorded for the first time by the choro group O Passos no Choro, in 1916. Later, in 1930, the composer himself recorded his solo version at the piano, a great historical document to demonstrate Nazareth's conception of the way his composition was supposed to be performed - the recording may be found at the two-disc anthology by Frémeaux, 'Choro 1906-1947' (FA 166).

In 1943 Ademilde Fonseca recorded a vocal version of 'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' with words by Darci de Oliveira, a recording that immediately was a success with the public and set the career of Ademilde Fonseca on a successful level. Outside Brasil it may be mentioned that the famous Argentine guitarist and performer, Oscar Alemán, also had a big hit with his instrumental version of 'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' in 1943.

The title of the composition means in English 'I Got You, Cavaquinho' and reflects a sudden way of performing when playing in a choro ensemble in the early days. It refers to the spirit of choro, malícia - "(...) an attitude of spirited competition in which one musician strives to outwit the other. "Malícia" refers to the choro soloist who enjoyed throwing off his accompanists with unexpected modulations or virtuosic improvisations. It was said, however, that the delight of audiences was even greater when accompanists showed greater malícia by maintaining their cool and playing through the complex sections with panache and finesse." (quoted from T.E. Livingston-Isenhour & T.G.C. Garcia: Choro - A Social History of a Brazilian Popular Music (2005), p. 10).

I found a couple of uploaded video performances of 'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' inserted below.

The first video features a piano player performing the tune as intended by Nazareth

The next video features Zé Carioca, Donald Duck & Ethel Smith from the 1948 cartoon by Disney, "Blame It On The Samba", which for the first time made Americans aware of Nazareth's music

The last video this time features the version of 'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' by Armandinho & Yamandú Costa in a live-performance


Friday, June 13, 2008

Diego Figueiredo

Diego Figueiredo, guitarist, producer and orchestral arranger, is a rising star among a new generation of excellent Brazilian performers. Having won second place at the Gibson Guitar Competition of Montreux Jazz Festival 2007 (he was also at the top 3 in the same contest in 2005), Diego Figueiredo is considered to be one of the greatest guitar players in the world today.

Diego Figueiredo was born 1980 in Franca, São Paulo State, and started playing 4 years old. At 12 he was already getting local recognigtion, at 15 he had had conquered audiences all over Brazil playing solo or with renowned musicians. He has recorded several albums, solo or in collaboration, and he has toured Brazil, US and Europe with great success. Next month he will tour various European festivals and record during his stay in Denmark. - Learn more about Diego Figueiredo from his official web that also includes a discography, tour schedule, audio and video material, click headline or here

In the context of choro and related music styles it is a marvellous experience to watch Diego Figueiredo mastering the roots of authentic Brazilian music in an updated version, showing off his virtuosity at ease as well as revealing his jazz influence and improvisation skills. I found a couple of uploaded videos at YouTube inserted below that have Diego performing classic choro tunes in a trio setting.

Here is a performance of "Brejeiro" by Ernesto Nazareth with Diego Figueiredo on amplified guitar, Alexandre Piu (keys) and Marcílio Garcetti (pandeiro)

From the same live-concert, here is a performance of a medley of "Tico-tico" & "Apanhei-te cavaquinho"

The last video this time is a solo performance by Diego Figueiredo playing "Carinhoso"


Friday, June 06, 2008

Dois de Ouro

Hamilton de Holanda (b.1976) was a prodigy child, he has confirmed his virtuosic talent at the bandolim, an instrument he has explored with success at the same high level as Jacob do Bandolim did earlier. Moving with his family to Brasília at the age of one, de Holanda was presented with a bandolim by his grandfather when was five. Hamilton de Holanda's father, a choro violonista, boosted the nascent talent of Hamilton and his brother Fernando César de Holanda (violão 7 cordas). Ever since they were very young, they started playing with competent choro musicians of Brasília; the two of them soon became good enough to form a duo, christened as Dois de Ouro.
Hamilton de Holanda studied violin while still a child at the Escola de Música de Brasília. In 1995 he was awarded as best interpreter in the II Choro Festival of Rio de Janeiro State. In the same festival his choro "Destroçando a Macaxeira" won second place. In 1998 he got third place in the Prêmio Visa de MPB Instrumental. He Recorded three albums with the Dois de Ouro.

The shown cd was the first release by Dois de Ouro, issued 1997 and containing Hamilton's choro composition "Destroçando a Macaxeira" together with 13 more pieces in the choro tradition. The duo is accompanied by violão, cavaquinho and pandeiro making up a traditional regional choro ensemble, Hamilton takes the role as soloist and fulfills it with precise attack and skilled improvisation on the bandolim. Learn more about the contents of the cd from the official website of Hamilton de Holanda, click here
You have the opportunity to download a couple of the tunes from MusicExpress in mp3, click here

To give you an impression of the inspiration from playing in a duo, I insert a couple of video fragments featuring Hamilton de Holanda as soloist. The first is from a live concert together with Yamandú Costa in a performance of Yamandú's choro, "Meiga"

The second video features Hamilton de Holanda and Daniel Santiago (violão) in a studio performance of Hamilton's "Pra siempre"