Friday, October 31, 2008

Pixinguinha & Oito Batutas

Pixinguinha (1897-1973) remains an icon representing the heart and soul of Brasilian popular music culture, his work as a composer, bandleader, flutist/reedplayer and originator of the choro genre is of invaluable importance, historically and from a musical point of view. The work of Pixinguinha may be considered important at the same level as the work of initial American jazz composers like Duke Ellington - both helped shaping a musical form that had success nationally and internationally.

Pixinguinha demonstrated ability on both flute and cavaquinho as a kid and started composing at an early age. By the age of 14, he had composed his first choro, 'Lata de leite', and was already an accomplished flute player. In 1913, he made his first choro recordings, and by the time he was 15, he was playing professionally - at 18 he was one of the most popular musicians and choro composers in Rio de Janeiro. In 1919, Pixinguinha formed the legendary Oito Batutas (- meaning 'The Eight Remarkable Players' in English) (see picture). The group consisted of flute (- and later saxophone), guitars, cavaquinho, bandolim, bandola, pandeiro and assorted percussion. - Led by Pixinguinha, Oito Batutas was formed to entertain the audience of Rio's prestigious Cinema Palais in its foyer. Opening on April 7, 1919, the group was a success from its debut. The Carioca élite were taken by surprise by the repertory of maxixes, sertanejo songs, batuques, cateretês, and choros. In 1920, the group performed for the King of Belgium and in the next year they toured Brazil. Returning to Rio, they went to play at the luxurious Assírio Club, accompanying the dancing duo Duque & Gaby. In January 1922, the group departed for Paris, France, financed by millionaire Arnaldo Guinle. Introduced as Les Batutas at the Scherazade club, they performed there for six months with great success. Also in 1922, they left for Argentina, performing at the Empire Theater (Buenos Aires) and recorded for the Argentinean Victor. Upon their return to Brazil in 1923, they diminished their performances until they soon dissolved the group.

In 1995 the Revivendo label re-issued the 20 sides recorded by Oito Batuts for Victor, click picture above to see tracklist. You have the opportunity to listen to most of this material using the online search facility at Instituto Moreira Salles or by visiting the Pixinguinha site made available at IMS, click here
Pixinguinha composed a choro titled 'Os Oito Batutas' reflecting the spirit of this initial ensemble, I insert a couple of uploaded video performances of this famous choro to end this contribution.- Here's a fragment of a roda de choro featuring Grupo Chorando na Sombra

Finally, here's an updated version featuring the Muzehof ensemble - enjoy it!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Nicolas Krassik & Cordestinos

Since 2001 the young French violinist, Nicolas Krassik, has established his career in Brazil. His quick integration into the Brazilian music scene resulted in the beginning of a promising solo career, and he has already played, performed and recorded with several renowned artists of MPB. In 2004 Rob Digital released his first solo cd, “Na Lapa”, which was followed by his second effort "Caçuá" in 2006 (- also at Rob Digital), both records commented earlier in this blog. Now the third solo album by Nicolas Krassik has been released just recently by Rob Digital with the title "NICOLAS KRASSIK & CORDESTINOS" (2008).
If the first solo cd, “Na Lapa”, presented Krassik's fascination with choro and related Brazilian music styles, the second effort, "Caçuá", showed off his growing interest in the traditional music styles of the North East of Brazil, mainly known as forró.
Forró is a kind of Northeastern Brazilian dance, as well as a word used to denote the different genres of music which accompanies the dance. Different genres of music can be used to dance the forró. Traditionally, all of these music genres uses only three instruments (accordion, zabumba (- a kind of bass drum) and a metal triangle). The traditional music used to dance the forró was brought to the Southeast from the Northeast by accordionist Luiz Gonzaga, who transformed the baião (a word originated from baiano and assigned a warm-up for artists to search for inspiration before playing) into a more sophisticated rhythm (- info excerpted from Wikipedia article about forró, more info to be found clicking here).

The third solo cd from Nicolas Krassik continues his exploration of the North East music genres.

On the cd Nicolas Krassik is accompanied by Marcos Moletta (rabeca), Guto Wirtti (bass), Carlos Cesar (percussion) and Chris Mourão (zabumba), the musicians making up the Cordestinos, one of his present ensembles. On some tracks there is guest performance by Yamandú Costa, Hamilton de Holanda, Carlos Malta and João Hermeto. As already mentioned, the repertoire is represented or inspired by the traditional music styles of the North East of Brazil, and on this cd Nicolas Krassik shows off his experience with not only the violin, but also his discovery of the rabeca - a traditional folk fiddle of Arab origins used in popular folk music traditions all over Brazil, most commonly represented in the Pernambuco region, North East of the country.

The sound of the rabeca is spruce and a bit darker compared to the violin, it may sound slightly out of tune, but maybe my ears are cheating me. However, Krassik has united with a master of the instrument, Marcos Moletta, and he also shows examples of his own mastering of the rabeca. The Cordestinos featuring Nicolas Krassik has altogether made a fascinating soundscape, and the cd is definitely recommended, if you like to explore the rich string tradition of the North East region of Brazil. Tracklist available by clicking headline or cd-cover shown above, more info about Krassik at his official website (- in Portuguese, French and English) including audio and video samples, click here - Nicolas Krassik also has a profile on MySpace, including audio and video, click here

To illustrate and to give you an impression of Nicolas Krassik & Cordestinos in performance I insert a couple of uploaded video examples. - Here's a recording of a live-performance recently

Finally, here's Nicolas Krassik & Cordestinos in a live TV-performance from a program hosted by Jó Soares


Friday, October 17, 2008


Many people outside Brazil had their first encounter with choro through listening to the shown cd featuring a selection of recordings by Jacob do Bandolim. The cd was issued by David Grisman's Acoustic Disc in 1991 and contains 21 tracks licensed from RCA's Brasilian division, click on picture to see tracklist.
Acoustic disc also released a volume 2 featuring 22 more recordings from Jacob do Bandolim's catalogue at RCA Victor, click picture to see tracklist.

The most popular and best-selling release by Jacob do Bandolim in Brazil was the 1967 RCA Victor LP "Vibrações" (- reissued on cd 1989 and 1993) featuring Jacob e Seu Conjunto Época de Ouro and containing 12 tracks of choros that have become classics and standard repertoire among choro ensembles worldwide, click picture above to see tracklist. - The title track "Vibrações" is a beutiful choro that keeps inspiring musicians, here's an example from a roda de choro at a private party recently

If you are looking for sheet music containing music recorded by Jacob do Bandolim intending to learn his solos note for note, there are a couple of possibilities to join the masterclass.

Some time ago the Instituto Jacob do Bandolim prepared a release of 24 scores of solos as played by Jacob do Bandolim, now issued at Irmãos Vitale including 2 cds featuring the music as recorded by Jacob with Conjunto Época de Ouro. One of the cds has the music without Jacob's solos, to be used as playback for the musician taking over the lead following the sheet - an example of the popular music-minus-one (- you're the soloist!) methode. Click picture to learn more about this issue., publishers and creators of the popular play-along series "Classics of Brazilian Choro" have recently released Volumes 1 & 2 featuring the compositions of Jacob do Bandolim. As with previous releases from, the musician is provided with CD including a full choro band that provides accompaniment — complete tracks with solo and split tracks without solo for you to play along, plus scores in standard notation for each composition in a convenient spiral bound book. Lead sheets are included for instruments in C, Bb and Eb. Each book includes information in English and Portugese. Click picture above to learn more.
Jacob do Bandolim's music may keep you busy studying these masterclass works for some time,
here's an example of one who has graduated - enjoy Hamilton de Holanda playing Jacob's "Gostosinho"


Friday, October 10, 2008

Sound of Rio - Brasileirinho

A few years ago, Mika Kaurismäki, a Finnish filmmaker, fasinated by the Brazilian music, published his documentary Brasileirinho.

This documentary is dedicated to the Choro music. I found a trailer of the documentary Sound of Rio - Brasileirinho, which seems to be a precursor of the documentary Braileirinho, I introduced to you in a previous blog.

In the film Mika follows three Choro musicians, the Trio Madeira Brasil, but a lot of other famous Choro musicians are to be seen, like Yamandu Costa and Hamilton De Holanda. It shows in an informal way the different styles. I found a track list which seems to be rather complete:

-Introduction - Papo de Anjo (Radamés Gnattali) Maurício Carrilho, Luciana Rabello
-Santa Morena (Jacob do Bandolim) Trio Madeira Brasil
-Saudações (Otávio Dias Moreno) Joel do Nascimento, Hamilton de Holanda, Trio Madeira Brasil et al. -Noite de Lua (Dilermando Reis) Yamandú Costa, Carlinhos Leite
-Formosa (Baden Powell - Vinícius de Moraes) Marcello Gonçalves, Yamandú Costa, Elza Soares
-Senhorinha (Guinga) Zezé Gonzaga, Guinga
-Brejeiro (Ernesto Nazareth) Yamandú Costa
-Falando de Amor (Tom Jobim) Zezé Gonzaga, Trio Madeira Brasil
-Tico-Tico no Fubá (Zequinha de Abreu) Ademilde Fonseca
-Um Calo de Estimação (Zé da Zilda - José Thadeu) Teresa Cristina & Grupo Semente
-Assanhado (Jacob do Bandolim) Trio Madeira Brasil, Marcos Suzano
-Degenerado (W. Rocha Ferro) Joathan Nascimento, Fred Dantas, Édson 7 Cordas
-Bole Bole (Jacob do Bandolim) Trio Madeira Brasil, Zé da Velha, Silvério Pontes
-Chorinho de Gafieira (Astor Silva) Paulo Moura, Zé da Velha, Silvério Pontes
-O Bom Filho à Casa Torna (Bonfiglio de Oliveira) Trio Madeira Brasil, Zé da Velha, Silvério -Pontes
-Sonoroso (K-Ximbinho) Hamilton de Holanda, Daniela Spielmann, Trio Madeira Brasil et al.
-Carinhoso (Pixinguinha - João de Barro) Yamandú Costa
-Barracão (Luiz Antônio - Oldemar Magalhães) Zezé Gonzaga, Teresa Cristina, Trio Madeira -- Brasil, Yamandú Costa, Zé da Velha, Silvério Pontes et al.

According the track list I think both documentaries are equal, but I hope that one of you can tell me if both documentaries are one and the same.

Last week I learned in a record shop in The Netherlands that a cheap version of the Braileirinho DVD has been published - a great opportunity for all of you who haven't obtain a copy.

I love to finish with a trailer of Sound of Rio - Brasileirinho by Mika Kaurismäki

Keep swinging

Hans Koert

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tocador de violão - Claudionor Cruz

During the 1930s and 1940s local and national radiostations in Brazil had a 'house band' to accompany popular singers during live broadcasts and to fill in empty space between progams.These house bands - known as Conjuntos Regionais - had a crucial role in evolving and shaping the popular music of the time, making it digestable for the commercial market - including record companies and the general public. Many choro musicians started their career as a member of a conjunto Regional, and as the musicians were supposed to accompany different singers and to play a varied repertoire, these conditions helped evolving the choro genre into a form containing elements from other popular music traditions. Contemporary choro may be seen as a evolution of the genre as shaped by the conjuntos Regionais during the period, when radio and music entertainment provided by this media set the scene in the general public.

One of the choro musicians having a long career in radio and later TV was Claudionor Cruz (1914-1995). He was a son of a bandleader and started early to play cavaquinho and snare drum. He became a professional at the cavaquinho and formed his group, Claudionor Cruz e Seu Regional, in 1932, which worked actively in the accompaniment of artists in several radio and TV stations of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, rivaling Benedito Lacerda. He had musicians like Abel Ferreira and Bola Sete in his group. His first composition to be recorded (in 1935 by Augusto Calheiros) was "Tocador de Violão", which was a co-work with composer/arranger Pedro Caetano, with whom he collaborated for many years. He also had other illustrious partners like Wilson Batista, and recorded/performed with Orlando Silva, Francisco Alves, Araci de Almeida, and many other top artists. Claudionor Cruz worked on more than 400 recordings as a composer, drummer, and/or cavaquinho/tenor violão player.

One of the compositions by Claudionor Cruz worked out in collaboration with Pedro Caetano was the samba-cancão "Nova ilusão", recorded 1941 and featuring vocalist Renato Braga accompanied by Calaudionor Cruz e seu Reional. The tune was popular at the time and was later redicovered by Paulinho da Viola and recorded in one of his albums from the 1970s. You can listen to the original recording by Claudionor Cruz featuring vocalist Renato Braga using your right mouse botton to open the musicplayer in a new window by clicking here

I found a contemporary rendition of "Nova ilusão" uploaded at YouTube, here the vocalist is Ernesto Aun

Like Garoto, Claudionor Cruz took up the violão tenor to accompany singers, you can hear Claudionor Cruz playing this instrument on several recordings available at Instituto Moreira Salles, here is an example - the choro "Este choro e o meu pranto" featuring vocalist Gilberto Alves, recorded 1945. Use the same procedure as mentioned above to listen to the record, click here

To end this, here's a contemporary rendition of "Este choro e o meu pranto" performed by Marco de Pinna Quarteto as an instrumental featuring Marco de Pinna on violão tenor