Friday, January 30, 2015

Danilo Brito - New CD By Bandolinista Extraordinaire

Danilo Brito
The excellent bandolinista, Danilo Britohas released a new CD last November. The CD has no title, but contains nine pieces of music all composed by Danilo Brito. He is accompanied by a traditional regional ensemble which comprises Carlos Moura (violão 7 cordas), Wesley Vasconcelos (violão), Lucas Arantes (cavaquinho), Roberto Figueroa (pandeiro) and there is a guest appearance by André Mehmari (piano) in the last track. The repertoire of the disc are compositions in the classic choro style and every track is a listening delight performed by excellent and very skilled musicians. Danilo Brito stands out as a magnificent soloist mastering his instrument with impeccable technique, and his great playing throughout mixes speed, tone and expression with a marvellous result. The CD is a superior example of the virtuosity of a great artist, highly recommended!
CD-front: Danilo Brito, Orpheu Music, Orpheu 05
Further info on the CD is available here and it may be purchased here. You also have the opportunity to listen to all tracks in full length in streaming audio at Sound Cloud, here. 
Below I'll insert some uploaded YouTube videos presenting some of the music recorded at the CD. Here is first Danilo Brito and his regional from the release promotion of the CD playing the tune 'Foi Ontem'

From the same promotion presentation, here is Danilo Brito and ensemble playing 'Pega Ratáo'

Danilo Brito also shows off his skills at the violão tenor, here's an example recorded at the mentioned CD, the tune is titled 'Generoso'

To end this small presentation of the music at Danilo Brito's new CD, here is a live performance of the waltz titled 'Vermelha' in a duo setting


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Garoto on Lap Steel Guitar

Garoto with electric lap steel guitar
Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha, 1915-55) is deservedly hailed as a Brazilian master of several plucked instruments such as cavaquinho, bandolim, violão tenor, violão (conventional six string guitar), banjo, electric guitar and the 'guitarra havaiana'. Here I'll put some focus on Garoto as a player of the 'guitarra havaiana' (=lap steel guitar).

Acoustic lap steel guitar
The 'guitarra havaiana' or lap steel guitar was developed in Hawaii in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it is usually positioned horizontally and the strings are plucked with one hand, while the other hand changes the pitch of one or more strings with the use of a bar or slide called a steel (generally made of metal, but also of glass or other materials).

Steel bar
The technique was invented and popularized in Hawaii. Thus, the lap steel guitar is sometimes known as the Hawaiian guitar, particularly in documents from the early 20th century. Early lap steel guitars were conventional guitars with steel strings modified by raising both the bridge and head nut. This type of guitar is claimed to have been invented in about 1889 by Joseph Kekuku in Hawaii. The type of slide called a steel which gives the technique its name was probably originally made of steel, or the name may come from the legend that the first steel was a railroad track.

The Rickenbacker 'frying pan'
The lap steel typically has 6 strings and is tuned to either standard guitar tuning, or an open chord. It differs from a conventional guitar in having a higher action. The electric version of a lap steel guitar was invented around 1930. The Rickenbacker'frying pan', an electric lap steel guitar produced from 1931 to 1939, was the first commercially successful solid body electric guitar.

Anibal Augusto Sardinha, Garoto
It is known that Garoto had his debut playing banjo, but he soon added several other plucked instruments to the inventory of instruments he mastered. In the late 1920s his idol and mentor was Zezinho (José Patrocinio de Oliveira,later known as Zé Carioca, 1904-1987), who also was a master of several plucked instruments. Zezinho had accompanied João Pernambuco in the famous recordings by João for the Columbia label, and Zezinho was one of the first to introduce the 'guitarra havaiana' in Brazil and also to record on this instrument. Garoto may have been introduced to the instrument by Zezinho and also been taught the basics from him. Around 1936 Garoto teamed with Aymoré in a duo to accompany singer Silvio Caldas and other popular artists of the time, and in 1936 Garoto also made his first registered record playing the 'guitarra havaiana' accompanied by Aymoré and Carlinhos on conventional guitars. The music is a choro titled 'Dolente' composed by Garoto

In the same year Garoto and Aymoré became staff musicians at Rádio Mayrink Veiga in Rio de Janeiro, and there they worked together with Gastão Bueno Lobo and Laurindo Almeida in an ensemble named Conjunto Havaiano, which aired live performances of popular music played 'hawaiian' style. Unfortunately, no recorded evidence of these live shots seems to have been recorded and saved.

Carolina Cardoso Menezes
In 1942 Garoto teamed with piano player Carolina Cardoso Menezes to record for the Victor label, between July 1942 and August 1944 they recorded at least 12 sides that became popular and since have been considered the best known work of Garoto playing the 'guitarra havaiana'. On these sides Garoto has switched to the electric lap steel, and below I'll insert some examples of the music from these recordings, which have been uploaded at YouTube. - From the first session on July 31th 1942 the duo recorded Garoto's choro 'Amoroso'

On January 12th 1943 Carolina Cardoso Menezes and Garoto recorded 'Tico tico no fubá', where Garoto also plays the violão tenor

At the same session the duo also recorded 'Carinhoso' - here played faster than usual and with a samba rhythm

When I started listening to the huge recorded output featuring Garoto, the above examples became some of my favorite recordings at once, they still are and for me they represent some of the best popular interpretation of choro although played on an instrument not usually associated with choro - the lap steel guitar. Anyway, great stuff that should be reissued in a proper format, I think.
Feliz Natal & Feliz Ano Novo 2015/ A Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year 2015!


Monday, November 03, 2014

Apanhei-te Cavaquinho - History of The Cavaquinho

The title of this entry refers to a famous choro tune composed by Ernesto Nazareth in 1914, since then a standard tune among choro musicians and recorded by numerous artists. However, the title of Apanhei-te Cavaquinho (- which in English means 'I got you, cavaquinho', refering to the friendly 'cutting contests' among choro musicians in rodas de choro meetings) is also the title of a four part filmed documentary of the story of the cavaquinho.

Cavaquinho ace and historian Henrique Cazes and producer Ivan Dias produced a documentary in four parts on the origins and circulation of the cavaquinho recorded on location in Portugal, Rio de Janeiro, Cabo Verde and Hawaii to cast some light upon the story of this fascinating instrument. The film was shown on TV in Brazil and has now been uploaded on YouTube, more than four hours documentation featuring Henrique Cazes as the guide interviewing key persons at the mentioned locations. As may be expected, the speak is in Portuguese most of the time (- except through some of the interviews recorded in Hawaii) and there are not added English subtitles in the YouTube version. However, even though you do not speak or understand the Portuguese language, this filmed documentary is entertaining and moreover has great photography by Carlos Mendes Pereira creating an authentic atmosphere of the locations and supporting the interviews well. You have the opportunity to watch all four parts following this link

CD front: Uma História do Cavaquinho Brasileiro (independent, 2012)
As a follow-up to the mentioned film, Henrique Cazes recorded and produced the shown CD in 2012 featuring fourteen tracks of compositions documentating the importance of the cavaquinho in popular Brazilian instrumental music, in particular choro. Of course,  Ernesto Nazareth's 'Apanhei-te Cavaquinho' is featured on the CD in a new arrangement also used in the soundtrack of the film mentioned above, and there are more tunes by choro pioneers like 'Cruzes, Minha Prima!' by Joaquin Callado, 'Roceira' by Mário Álvares da Conceição (- an early master of the cavaquinho known as Mário Cavaquinho) and 'Não Pode Ser!' by Nelson Alves (- another pioneer of the cavaquinho known as Nelson Cavaquinho). Late 1940s, Waldir Azevedo made the cavaquinho popular as a solo voice in choro and related genres, and four of his compositions are featured in new arrangements by Henrique Cazes and Beto Cazes - besides the smash hits 'Brasileirinho' and 'Delicado' you have new versions of 'Brincando Com O Cavaquinho' and the beautiful 'Eterna Melodia'. From the same period there is also a new arrangement of Garoto's 'Meu Cavaquinho', further a version of 'Gingando' (- a popular tune composed by Dino 7 Cordas while being a stable member of cavaquinista Canhoto e seu Regional, the ensemble which later became the backing ensemble of Jacob do Bandolim). Modern tradition of the cavaquinho is represented by an arrangement of Radamés Gnattali's 'Variações Sem Tema', here performed in a duet interplay with pianist Cliff Korman, and further there is a version of Paulinho da Viola's melodious 'Beliscando'. Finally, two contemporary compositions by Henrique Cazes, 'Real Grandeza' (- a choro dedicated to Paulinho da Viola's  farther, Cesar Faria, violanista and founder of the famous Epoca de Ouro choro ensemble) and the double tune 'Dois Estudos Nº 6 E Nº 7' (- dedicated to bandolinista Joel Nasciemento and Hamilton de Holanda respectively). - Henrique Cazes plays the cavaquinho in all fourteen tracks (- and doubles on violão tenor in some tunes), and he is accompanied by a backing ensemble consisting of 7 string acoustic guitar, double bass, percussion and in some tracks an accordion is also added. More info on participating musicians and tracks available here 

Henrique Cazes
Henrique Cazes is a modern master and virtuoso of the cavaquinho as a solo voice in Brazilian popular music, and the shown CD is a marvelous example of his mastery of the instrument in a repertoire of delightful compositions reflecting the story of the cavaquinho and its importance in choro and related instrumental genres. The CD is highly recommended, if you like Brazilian instrumental popular music of high quality and further are keen on exploring the cavaquinho as played by a modern master. The CD is available at Itunes and various streaming audio services, and a mp3 download version is available for purchase at Amazon, here. 

The CD was presented in a TV program by TV Cultura in Brazil, and I'll insert a couple of fragments from the program below uploaded at YouTube. - Here's is first Henrique Cazes playing his arrangement of Waldir Azevedo's 'Brincando com o Cavaquinho'

To end this small review, here's is Henrique Cazes in his own composition 'Real Grandeza'


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso - Segunda Vez

Mike Marshall
Mike Marshall (b.1957) is an American mandolin player and multi-instrumentalist. He has performed and recorded with many musicians in a variety of styles, including bluegrass, classical, jazz and Brazilian music. In addition to several instruments within the mandolin family, Marshall also plays the guitar and violin. - Mike Marshall is also a partner in the music label, Adventure Music, which is dedicated to releasing music from Brazil.  Adventure Music has released Serenata, a duet recording  with pianist Jovino Santos Neto featuring the compositions of Hermeto Pascoal (2003), Brazil Duets (2005) featuring various musicians, New Words (Novas Palavras) (2006) a co-work with Hamilton de Holanda and further the debut recording by Mike Marshall & Choro Famoso (2004). Recently the second CD by Marshall and Choro Famoso also was released by Adventure Music, Segunda Vez, which is shown below.

CD front: Segunda Vez, Adventure Music, AM 1090 2 (2014)

Choro Famoso is: Mike Marshall ( mandolin), Andy Connell (clarinet, soprano sax), Colin Walker (7-string guitar) and Brian Rice (pandeiro). 

Choro Famoso
The new CD has seventeen tracks and the repertoire consists of both classic and modern choro compositions. There is classic pieces by famous Brazilian chorões such as Ernesto Nazareth, Pixinguinha, Nelson Alves, Luiz Americano, Jacob do Bandolim, Waldir Azevedo, Heitor Avena de Castro, Orlando Silveira, Esmeraldinho Salles and K-Ximbinho. The more contemporary choro repertoire is represented by music composed by Moacir Santos, Mauricio Carrilho, and Guinga. The performance by the Choro Famoso quartet is excellent, well balanced and with a convincing and deep understanding of the spirit of choro in both the classic and modern examples of choro featured at the disc. Highly recommended! - The CD has extensive notes about the music and is available for purchase here 

Choro Famoso in live performance
To give you an impression of Mike Marshall and Choro Famoso in live performance, I'll insert two uploaded video fragments from a concert recorded in 2010. Here is first the quartet's version of a choro titled 'Luis Americano Na Pre 3'

To end this small review, here's Choro Famoso's rendition of 'Evocação de Jacob' by H.Avena de Castro


Friday, September 19, 2014

Zé Menezes (1921-2014)

Zé Menezes (1921-2014)
On July 31th this year Brazil lost one of its legendary and great musicians - Zé Menezes (José Menezes de França, b.1921), guitarist, composer and multi-string player died in hospital at age 93 in Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro.
Zé Menezes began playing music as a child, and at eight he was invited by conductor Arlindo Cruz to play at cinemas  as a professional. That year he wrote his first composition, "Meus Oito Anos." At 11, after playing with Cruz's orchestra, he joined the Banda Municipal de Juazeiro. After 1938, he was hired by Ceará Rádio Club as violonista (acoustic guitarist), forming his own regional group, which played for four years in that incarnation. In 1943 he was hired for Rádio Mayrink Veiga (Rio). There, Menezes had two weekly shows, where he solidified his career as a soloist. Menezes played at the Hotel Quitandinha (Petrópolis RJ) and, with the same group of people, in the group Milionários do Ritmo (in 1945). In the next year, he played at the Casablanca nightclub and was hired by Rádio  Globo (Rio). Two years later, he joined Rádio Nacional (until 1960), where he formed a duo with violonista Garoto. With Luís Bittencourt as his stable partner, he had his composition "Nova Ilusão" recorded by Os Cariocas in 1948 and adopted as their theme song.
From the '40s through the '50s he recorded and performed on the radio regularly with Radamés Gnattali, in the Quarteto Continental, and later with the Quinteto Radamés. Upon the founding of TV Globo, he became its producer, arranger, and composer of soundtracks.
In 1959 Menezes formed the group Velhinhos Transviados, which recorded 13 LPs for RCA by 1971.In 1995 he released the CD 'Chorinho' in concert and in 1998 the CD 'Relendo Garoto', both still available on the InterCDRecords label. In his later career Menezes managed to implement remakes of his own compositions in new arrangements for the abz record label, which resulted in the release of three CDs from 2005-10 with the project title 'Autoral' - a sort of autobiography in music. A website dedicated to this project has the music uploaded and free accessible in streaming audio and as printed sheet with additional info on the arrangements, here 
As documented in the two videos above, Zé Menezes mastered the electric guitar and currently this has inspired Rogério Borda, guitarist and professor in music at UNIRIO, to research Menezes' technique and write a complete method for electric guitar as played by Zé Menezes - this method will be released officially later this month.
Rogério Borda has made his study digital available for aspiring guitarists here 
To end this small review of Zé Menezes' career I'll point you to a video featuring Menezes in one of his last public performances, a worthy sortié of a long and successful career, I think. Unfortunately, the video cannot be inserted, but here is the link 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Hans Koert (1951 - 2014)

Hans Koert (1951-2014)
Dear readers,

I had the sad news this afternoon that Hans Koert passed away this morning. Hans Koert died from complications caused by a lung cancer that has kept him inactive at his website and blogs for some months. I have lost a dear friend, however, my thoughts and condolences in this difficult hour I forward to Corrie, Hans' wife, 

If you wish to express your compassion or send a condolence notification, I will state Corrie's postal address below. You may also state your message by notifying me at the e-mail address below, then I'll forward your message to Corrie. As always, you can also use the comment facility at the blog, if you prefer this solution.

Hans Koert was the founder and main editor of the Keep Swinging website including under-webs and blogs. Before it was too late, I promised Hans to continue his work the best I can. If you have questions or comments regarding this, please feel free to contact me in an e-mail.

Here is the postal address of Corrie Koert:

Ms. Corrie Koert
Torenvalkstee 8
NL-4451 CM Heinkenszand
The Netherlands

The e-mail address to send condolence notification or questions, please use this:

Thank you for your support!

Jørgen Larsen

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Memory of Jacob do Bandolim (1918-1969)

Jacob do Bandolim
Jacob Pick Bittencourt - better known as Jacob do Bandolim - was born February 14, 1918, in Rio de Janeiro and passed away August 13, 1969, Rio de Janeiro. Jacob do Bandolim is one of the most important figures in Brazilian choro, and he has left a legacy of recordings and more than 100 compositions which will secure him a place among the best and most respected Brazilian musicians forever. He had his nickname after the instrument he devoted his musical skills - the bandolim is the Brazilian issue of the mandolin, - and he was the originator of a way of playing the bandolim, which has been adopted by countless other bandolinistas in Brazil and elsewhere. Jacob do Bandolim had a profound impact on generations of choro musicians - not only through his work as a musician and composer, but also as a researcher of choro and as a radio and TV host of programs devoted to choro and live performance by both amateurs and professional musicians excelling in this kind of music and related genres. Further, Jacob do Bandolim also arranged informal choro gatherings ( - rodas de choro) at his home and invited special guests to participate and help refining, sharing and evolving musical ideas, a tireless and demanding effort that at times would last for days and nights. All this work was a full time job, nevertheless Jacob do Bandolim had to support his financial income through a 'day job' as an insurance agent or street vendor until the State Govenment secured him employment as a civil servant with a steady income towards the end of his life. Jacob do Bandolim was a victim of a heart attack on August 13, 1969, he died on his way home from a visit to Pixinguinha's house where he had discussed and planned new musicial projects with his mentor and friend. - A more detailed profile of Jacob do Bandolim's career is available here and the official website in Portuguese devoted to everything regarding Jacob do Bandolim can be reached here.

Jacob do Bandolim, c. 1950
Jacob do Bandolim recorded his first session featuring César Faria e seu conjunto in October 1947, only two sides were recorded and released on a 78 rpm disc. A choro by Jacob, Treme-treme, was on the A-side

In 1951 Jacob do Bandolim started recording for RCA and was backed by musicians, who had been members of flutist Benedito Lacerda's ensemble, now lead by the cavaquinho player of the grounp called Regional do Canhoto

Jacob and Regional do Canhoto, 1950s
In 1951 Jacob recorded his choro Doce de coco with Regional do Canhoto, a composition that since has been part of the standard choro repertoire

Jacob recorded several sessions with Regional do Canhoto from 1951 to 1961, in 1957 he recorded the choro Noites Cariocas, an all-time hit since then associated with Jacob and the nightlife of Rio

In 1965 Jacob formated his most famous group, Epoca de Ouro, featuring members that had backed him since start of the 1960s under other names such as Jacob e seus chorões and Jacob e seu regional

Jacob and Epoca de Ouro, 1960s
Jacob and Epoca de Ouro had their greatest success with the 1967 recording of the RCA LP-album titled Vibrações, the title track of this album is another choro by Jacob, which forever is associated with him and the spirit of Brazilian choro

After Jacob do Bandolim's untimely death in 1969 the Epoca de Ouro ensemble dissolved, but the group reunited in 1973 and had a profound impact on the revival of choro in Brazil during the 1970s. The Epoca de Ouro is still an active choro ensemble today with new members in the group taking over and continuing a tradition and reliving a body of musical works associated with Jacob do Bandolim and his legacy.