Friday, October 30, 2015

Toca de Tatu - Meu Amigo Radamés

Radamés Gnattali
Radamés Gnattali (1906-1988) is an important figure in Brazilian music. A classically trained composer, conductor, orchestrator, and arranger, he worked for a living in the popular side of the business, deeply influencing Brazilian popular music with his arrangements and conceptions. His compositions, both in the erudite and popular fields, concurred to bridge the gap between the two idioms. Gnattali was known as a talented arranger and was hired by many of the best popular musicians and radio stations to produce arrangements. He embraced the sound of American swing and jazz and added American jazz harmonies to his sophisticated arrangements. Gnattali's work expanded the scope of Brazilian popular music, through his work he added legitimacy to instrumental popular music such as choro and related genres. As a performer of popular music, he played the piano in his own combos during the 1950s and 1960s and made records of his own compositions and arrangements with both quartet, quintet and sextet. Together with his famous Suite Retratos, originally written for symphony orchestra and featuring Jacob do Bandolim as soloist, a selection of Gnattali's compositions have been re-arranged and recorded by a young ensemble from Belo Horizonte that is named Toca de Tatu.
Grupo Toca de Tatu (photo: Fabiano Campbell)
Toca de Tatu is a quartet comprising Lucas Ladeia (cavaquinho), Abel Borges (percussion), Luísa Mitre (piano, accordion) and Lucas Telles (violão 7 cordas) and in 2013 the ensemble released its debut cd titled Meu Amigo Radamés featuring thirteen tracks of instrumental music from the popular works of Radamés Gnattali including a couple of compositions dedicated to Gnattali - the title track was composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim and the other homage to Gnattali is Paulinho da Viola's Sarau para Radamés.The arrangements are by the ensemble, four very skilled musicians.
CD front, Toca de Tatu, Meu Amigo Radamés (2013)
The CD is for purchase at the official website of Toca de Tatu, more info here and you have the opportunity to listen to a selection of the recordings at Sound Cloud including free download of some tracks, here. Below I'll insert some examples of the music that have been uploaded at YouTube from the release concert of the CD to give you an impression of this excellent young ensemble. - Here is first Toca de Tatu's interpretation of Gnattali's Remexendo

The title track of the CD, Meu Amigo Radamés by Tom Jobim, was of course also performed at the same concert

Alma Brasileira by Radamés Gnattali is a very beutiful choro, here performed by Toca de Tatu

A tour-de-force for piano is Gnattali's Gatinhos no piano, a composition inspired by the American novelty ragtime composer Zez Confrey's Kitten On The Keys, here performed by Toca de Tatu

Earlier this year Toca de Tatu visited France, and from one of the group's performances in Paris I'll end this small presentation inserting Toca de Tatu's version of Radamés Gnattali's famous piece, Pixinguinha, from his Retratos suite

Thank you to Oscar Barahona for introducing me to Toca de Tatu and forwarding relevant info.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Água de Vintém

Conjunto Àgua de Vintém
A young generation of musicians in Brazil keeps choro music and its long tradition well alive by playing the music of the old masters and further by adding new compositions and arrangements of previously unissued music to the classic repertoire. Among these dedicated young musicians I recently encountered the conjunto Água de Vintém while browsing various Brazilian web resources.According to the official website, Água de Vintém  was established in 2011 and all members are from Piracicaba of the São Paulo state. The original formation of the conjunto consisted of Vitor Casagrande (bandolim, violão tenor), Paula Borghi (violão), Guilherme Soares (violão 7 cordas), Saulo Ligo (cavaco) and Xeina Barros (pandeiro) while the present formation has replaced Paula Borghi with Marcus Godoy, who plays the violão 7 cordas, and Guilherme Soares now takes care of the violão. - Conjunto Água de Vintém has performed alongside established musicians such as Toninho Carrasqueira, Pedro Amorim, Alessandro Penezzi, Nailor Proveta, Toninho Ferragutti, Antonio Rocha, Achilles Moraes, Ronaldo Bandolim, Mauricio Carrilho, Alexandre Ribeiro, Cristóvão Bastos and Déo Rian. In 2013, the ensemble recorded its first CD for the Acari label, produced by Mauricio Carrilho.
CD front, Café da Dona Chica (Acari, 2013)
The CD has twelve tracks, eleven of them are compositions by members of the conjunto while the remaining is by Mauricio Carrilho, who also participates as a musician in the recording. Mauricio Carrilho ranks the ensemble as one of the best young choro groups. Quote: "I was struck by the synchrony with the space occupied by each instrument as well with the individual quality of each member always being used in favor of the collective language of the group. That makes a big difference and never decreases the individual brilliance of soloists and accompanists. The repertoire consisting of material by the young members, shows how the rich and mysterious language of choro is part of the essence of each of them. Rhythm, expressiveness, dynamics, improvisation, is a feast to the sound of this group. I consider Água de Vintém as one of the best ensembles in the new generation of choro musicians" (Mauricio Carrilho). - From the recording of the CD, here is the ensemble in consentrated action recording the title track, Café da Dona Chica 

As mentioned, the CD Café da Dona Chica  was recorded and issued in 2013, it is available here, and you have the opportunity to listen to some of the tracks at Sound Cloud, here 
CD front, Água de Vintém interpreta Sergio Belluco (AdV 001), Tratore, 2015
Last month Água de Vintém released its second CD, the above shown Água de Vintém interpreta Sergio Belluco. The CD has 14 tracks and the repertoire is solely devoted to previously unissued compositions by Sergio Belluco in arrangements by Água de Vintém. Sergio Belluco (b.1931) is a key figure in Piracicaba, where he has held the chair as a professor of the violão at important institutions and schools of music for decades. In the 1970s Belluco led his own conjunto Som Brasileiro, who had Alessandro Penezzi among its members for some time - Penezzi further was taught violão by Belluco and he also participates in the new CD by Água de Vintém in a couple of tracks. The material for the CD consists of compositions in the classic choro genre, and it's a sheer joy to be listening to the interepretation of the featured pieces by Água de Vintém - here's an uploaded example

The new CD by conjunto Água de Vintém is available for purchase  as download in mp3 format here - Below I'll insert a couple more examples of uploaded videos featuring music available at the CD. Here is Água de Vintém performing Sergio Belluco's Dialogando at the release concert of the CD (Rafel Toledo, percussion, is added to the ensemble)

From the same concert, here is Água de Vintém performing Melancólico by Sergio Belluco

I highly recommend the two issued CDs by conjunto Água de Vintém, the sound of the ensemble reminds me of the best recordings by classic choro ensembles like Época de Ouro and the conjunto of bandolinist Rossini Ferreira a.o.. It's great to experience that this tradition is being continued and taken good care of by the competent, young musicians who integrate the conjunto Água de Vintém!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

46 Years Without Jacob

Today it has been 46 years since Jacob do Bandolim (1918 - 1969) passed away following a heart attack. The choro community lost one of its greatest contributors - both as a musician, composer, researcher and tireless spokesman in favor of choro. The importance of Jacob do Bandolim's contributions to choro and this genuine Brazilian music tradition is at the same level as Pixinguinha's, fortunately his musical legacy has been kept well alive by countless followers among musicians in and outside Brazil, and thanks to Jacob's endeavors the bandolim has become a respected member of the standard choro ensemble. In 2002 the Instituto Jacob do Bandolim was established to preserve his work, a website devoted to everything concerning his life and work was launched (- a new design of the site is completed recently, take a look here ), and last year Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS) initiated a project with the aim of digitizing Jacob do Bandolim's own archive - a website devoted to
this project has also been launched, accessible here 
Here I like to remember the importance of Jacob do Bandolim by inserting some examples of his music below, let's start with a Doce de Coco 

Next follows the inevitable and immortal Noites cariocas, the original version from 1957

Here is the 1961 version of Jacob's Assanhado 

Finally, to end this - here is Jacob's 1962 recording of A ginga do Mané 


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Paola Picherzky - Armando Neves, Outras Composições

Armando Neves (Armandinho), 1902-1976
The works for solo violão by Armando Neves (Armandinho) have been rediscovered in recent years and widely appreciated thanks to the CD recording of a selection of his choros by Paola Picherzky in 2008. I made a small review of the CD earlier, here - You have the opportunity to listen to the full album at YouTube, here
A career profile of Armando Neves (- in Portuguese) is available here, and a short profile of Paola Picherzky (- in English) is available here. 
CD front, Armando Neves, Outras Composições Indepente (Tratore), 2015
Earlier this year Paola Picherzky released the new CD shown above featuring fifteen more compositions for solo violão by Armando Neves, a great supplement to her recording of eighteen of his choros from 2008. The new CD includes only one composition registered as a choro (Choro 7), the remaining tracks are devoted to compositions in other musical genres such as Canção, Valsa, Maxixe, Estudio, Preludio and Gavota, or to music with individual titles but without the stating of the genre. A tracklist of the featured repertoire is available here 
Paola Picherzky
The interpretation of the music at the CD is excellent and done with empathy and flawless mastery of the technical challenges, the result is a very listenable CD that highlights both the beauty of Armando Neves' compositions and Paola Picherzky's capacity as a guitarist and soloist. The CD is highly recommended and is available for purchase as download in mp3 format here 
- To end this, I insert Paola Picherzsky's interpretation of Armando Neves' well known Choro nº2, here from a TV presentation  - enjoy!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Centennial of Garoto

Let's commemorate the centennial of the birth of the great Anibal Augusto Sardiha, better known under his artist name, Garoto (28.06.1915 - 03.05.1955). The best way to celebrate a multi talented musician and composer like Garoto is to play some of his music. Thus, below I'll insert some examples from his recorded legacy.

A choro composed by Garoto, Amoroso, recorded 1942 featuring Carolina Cardoso de Menezes is a highlight of his playing of the guitarra havaiana 

Another choro from 1942 composed by Garoto is Quanto doi a saudade, showcasting the violão tenor

Garoto was also a master of the bandolim, here is  an example,  Aranca-toco from 1950

Also from 1950 the inevitable and magnificent tour-de-force, Desvairada, the original version for bandolim

From the private recordings made 1950s featuring Garoto on solo violão, Inspiração

Also from the 1950s private solo sessions of solo violão, to end this - Lamentos do Morro


Monday, May 25, 2015

Homenagem à Chiquinha Gonzaga

Chiquinha Gonzaga (1877)
Chiquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935) is considered the first important female composer and performer of popular music in Brazil. She was born as an illegitimate child, but fortunately her farther recognized her as his own and provided her with an education that included musical training. She participated in piano recitals throughout her youth and demonstrated execeptional skill. Her desire at a young age to pursue music professionally, however, was abandoned by her family. At age 13 she was forced into an arranged marriage but by 18 had already left her husbund to become a single mother, who played the piano to support her children. As a result of this she was declared dead by her former family! However, over time Chiquinha succeeded in making a living and a name for herself as a performer, composer and piano teacher.

Gonzaga was the first female to be allowed attending the social and musical fraternity of choro musicians, helped by her friend Joaquin Calado -the first composer of music in the choro style. Chiquinha started composing in the choro style too and had success with the piece "Corta-jaca" from 1897. Later she would be engaged in composing and arranging music for the popular theater. She was also a dedicated participant in the abolition movement and engaged further in the protection of authors' and composers' rights. By the time of her death in 1935, her musical works included a great number of theater pieces as well as sacred music, besides popular music including maxixes, marches and choros. Her legacy as an important composer of Brazilian popular music continues today. - The official website dedicated to the legacy of Chiquinha Gonzaga (in Portuguese only) is accessible here and the digital archive of Gonzaga's compositions is accessible here 

This year it has been 80 years since Chiquinha Gonzaga's passing, and her life story has been dramatized in a TV production in Brazil to commenmorate her importance in the nation's music and culture. Among other initiatives to commenmorate Chiquinha Gonzaga, a new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira  paying tribute to Gonzaga's music has been released recently and is presented here.
The new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira
The CD has twelve tracks and the music is excellently performed by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira. The trio comprises André Ribeiro (bandolim), Priscila Matos (piano) and Roberto Amaral (pandeiro). The CD is the trio's second release - the first was issued in 2012 titled De Três em Três (- earlier mentioned here).
Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira, l-r: Roberto Amarel, Priscila Matos, André Ribeiro
Chiquinha Gonzaga's music is influenced by both European popular styles such as polka, mazurka and waltz as well as tango, lundu and maxixe a.o., and the various styles reflected in her work as a composer characterize her as a major transitional figure pioneering and helping to shape the direction of a genuine Brazilian music which - together with the compositions by Ernesto Nazareth - may be considered the roots of choro. Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira has succeeded in capturing the atmosphere and expression of Gonzaga's music in a contemporary setting. The rhythmic pulse of the featured pieces at the CD is heavily influenced by the habanera and syncopation, which provides the musical themes from a long gone romantic 'belle epoche' a contemporary appeal - the music of Chiquinha Gonzaga is still able to seduce the attentive listener when performed by skilled musicians like Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira. - A short presentation of the contained music at the CD has been uploaded at YouTube and is inserted here 

Chiquinha Gonzaga was a piano player and used the piano to write famous pieces like 'Corta-jaca' - now a standard of the choro repertoire - here performed in its first presentation on record by Grupo Chiquinha Gonzaga

The piano player of Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira, Priscila Matos, has uploaded some examples of her interpretation of Gonzaga's pieces, which I'll insert below. - Here is first Priscila Matos' version of 'Corta-jaca', also known as 'Gaucho'

Chiquinha Gonzaga had her first public success with a composition titled 'Atraente', a polka/choro from 1877 also adopted by the choro standard book, here performed by Priscila Matos

To end this, here is Priscila Matos' version of Chiquinha Gonzaga's maxixe 'Mulher Homem', recorded at the session featured at the new CD by Conjunto Subindo a Ladeira

The CD Homenagem à Chiquinha Gonzaga by Conjunto  Subindo a Ladeira is highly recommend and is available for purchase as mp3 download from Amazon, here

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Choro Nórdica - New CD From Tresafinado

CD front: Choro Nórdica (Tresafinado Records, T1403 - Gateway Music)
The Danish-Brazilian trio Tresafinado from Copenhagen - consisting of flautist Pia Kaufmanas, guitarist Torsten Borbye Nielsen, and the Brazilian drummer and percussionist, Afonso Corrêa - was established 1998. Tresafinado has performed with a repertoire based on the Spanish and South-American music tradition and has also co-operated with Danish choir ensembles performing religious music. Tresafinado's first two CD recodings reflected the trio's engagement in the mentioned fields of music. The third CD was recorded in Rio de Janeiro 2010 and showcasted the trio's devotion to the Brazilian choro, released 2011 with the title 'Lúdico' and featuring four acknowledged musicians from Rio's choro community: Mauricio Carrilho (violão 7 cordas), Pedro Aragão (bandolim), Luciana Rabello (cavaquinho), and Nailor Proveta (clarinet). The 'Lúdico' CD mainly contained material in the choro genre composed by Tresafinado's guitarist, Torsten Borbye Nielsen. As mentioned, the CD was released 2011 and in 2012 Tresafinado arranged a concert tour of Denmark together with the four mentioned Brazilian guest musicians presenting the material recorded at the 'Lúdico' CD. Both the CD and a broadcasted concert from the tour have earlier been reviewed at this blog (- you may look up both reviews following this link, here ). - Earlier this month Tresafinado released the trio's fourth CD titled 'Choro Nórdica', a follow-up of the successful Lúdico' CD.
l-r: front row: Pedro Aragão, Torsten Borbye Nielsen, Luciana Rabello, Nailor Proveta - back row: Afonso Corrêa, Pia Kaufmanas, Mauricio Carrilho
The new CD by Tresafinado, 'Choro Nórdica', was recorded 2012-2014 in Copenhagen and continues the co-operation with the four mentioned Brazilian musicians in five tracks that were recorded during the concert tour of Denmark in 2012, the remaining seven tracks are recorded in 2014 and are by Tresafinado alone including two tracks in a solo or duet setting. The repertoire of the CD includes seven choro compositions by guitarist Torsten Borbye Nielsen, five of them in arrangements for the extended Tresafinado with Brazilian guest musicians, the remaining two are two waltzes, 'Valsa singela' by the trio, and 'Garda', a solo piece for guitar performed by Borbye Nielsen. Further there are included two compositions by Danish jazz pianist Thomas Clausen,'Ciao Brasil' and 'Hope for Malala', in arrangements by Tresafinado and there is a version of Brazilian accordeonist Chico Chagas' 'Pra Paulo' by the trio. Finally, a choro by Mauricio Carrilho dedicated to flautist Kaufmanas, 'Choro pra Pia' and a duet version of Pixinguinha's 'Lamentos' in an arrangement by Brazilian guitarist Marco Pereira adapted by Tresafinado and here performed by Kaufmanas and Borbye Nielsen. - As was the case with the 'Lúdico' CD, the new CD by Tresafinado provides excellent arrangements and performance at a high artistic level, the compositions by Borbye Nielsen fit perfectly in a contemporary context of choro interpretation and the performance by all involved leaves a most pleasant impression of a genuine Brazilian music with a touch of Scandinavian 'coolness' added to the warmth of southern climes. I highly recommend the CD as an example of an up to date choro release and further as yet another successful exchange of ideas between an European and South American music tradition, every track is extremely well performed and in supreme audio - a must have for all interested in contemporary choro tradition.

The 'Choro Nórdica' CD is available by contacting Tresafinado's web, here or as download from iTunes, here - Audio clips available at Tresafinado's web and you may listen to the CD in streaming audio at Spotify.