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.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

André Juarez & Grupo Gato Preto

The present heatwave at my spot on the Globe prevents me from a long and detailed blog-entry this time, however, here are a couple of lines about a CD that surprised me recently after listening to it at a streaming service. I do not have the actual CD at hand, and the info offered at music streaming service suppliers is often not very useful or directly non existent, unfortunately. A lack of respect for curious and serious music listeners, I am sorry to say.

André Juarez & Grupo Gato Preto - Jazz-Choro (Pôr do Som)
The black cat staring intensely at the viewer on the front cover of the CD by André Juarez and Grupo Gato Preto refers both to the name of the group ( - 'gato preto' in fact means 'black cat' in English) and insider slang expressions in jazz, where 'cat' often refers to an experienced musician who knows his instrument and the music as another alley cat knows his territory. André Juarez definitly is a 'cat', who knows his instrument in and out, and with a musical background in both classical music, MPB and jazz, he has extended his territory to include choro convincingly in the tracks of this CD, that further has the genre title stated as 'jazz-choro'.

André Juarez - Photo credit by Elizabete Colovatti
André Juarez is a vibraphonist, arranger and conductor from São Paulo with a career in both erudite and popular music. He had his musical training and academic degrees in music both in São Paulo and at Berklee College, USA, he conducts the São Paulo University Choir and has worked with various orchestras and conducters as an instrumentalist both in Brazil and abroad. In addition to his academic career he also formed his own ensembles on the basis of his engagement in both Brazilian popular music, jazz and - choro. A more detailed career profile is available in Portuguese and English at his official wesite, here.

André Juarez and Grupo Gato Preto
The Grupo Gato Preto was formed in 2006 by André Juarez and São Paulo musicians, and according to the website info the ensemble currently is composed of Euclides Marques (seven-string guitar), Yves Finzetto (pandeiro), Getúlio Ribeiro (cavaquinho) and André Juarez (vibraphone) as shown on the photo above. The group has the research and studies of choro music's traditional as well as contemporary repertoire as the main target and the shown CD above is the ensemble's first recording. The vibraphone is an unusual instrument in choro, nevertheless it has the leading voice in this recording and in the ensemble's public performance. The Grupo Gato Preto has had success with its formation and has already won awards for its performance in 2010, 2011 and 2013. The band has been on successful tours abroad 2012 (USA) and 2013 (Argentina) and will be on tour again in August 2014 (Europe), more info at Juarez' website.

The formation of Gato Preto at the CD differs from the mentioned, as Léo Rodrigues (Pandeiro) and Henrique Araújo (cavaquinho) replace Yves Finzetto and Getúlio Ribeiro respectively, and the ensemble further has invited guest performers in some of the tracks, they are the following: Nailor Proveta (clarinet), Teco Cardoso (flute), Bocato (trombone), Edmundo Villani-Côrtes (piano), Danilo Brito (bandolim,cavaco), Mane Silveira (saxophone) and Tiago Pinheiro (vocal). 

The chosen repertoire for the thirteen tracks of the CD partially consists of well known compositions by choro celebrities such as Pixinguinha (Um a Zero, Segura Ele), Jacob do Bandolim (Assanhado) and Valdir Azevedo (Brasileirinho, Pedacinhos do Céu). A version of the classic André do Sapato Novo ( by André Vitor Correia and known from versions by Pixinguinha/Lacerda 1947 as well as Jacob do Bandolim's 1956 issue, among many other) - here complete with suspense pauses and inserted bites of other popular themes. Further there are two versions of Alberto Martino's beautiful waltz, Rapaziada do Braz, one of them with added vocal by Tiago Pinheiro singing the lyrics, the other as an instrumental piece. There are also three compositions especially  arranged for this recording, the title track, Gato Preto, with guest performer Nailor Proveta added on clarinet, a frevo-inspired composition titled André no Frevo featuring Edmundo Villani- Côrtes on piano  and a classic choro theme titled Vida em Sonho, which has Danilo Brito added on violão tenor or cavaco, I assume. Finally, a tip-of-the hat to legendary flutist Copinha in the choro  titled Salve, Copinha with guest performer Teco Cardoso on flute, and the CD ends with a small musical joke in a solo version by Adré Juraez of the waltz Sobre as Ondas (- in English better known as Over The Waves) that continues in a perfect inserted version of the tune played by a barrel organ! - The music is well arranged and performed throughout the CD, and the lead voice by the vibraphone adds a pleasant sound to the performance that reminds me of soft jazz yet with a nerve and drive, which is unmistakably Brazilian exellently supported by the contributions of the ensemble and invited guest performers. A different version of great choro tunes and well worth listening to over again, indeed.

The CD was released by the Pôr do Som label last year and is available for purchase at Amazon in a mp3 download version. Both at the site of Pôr do Som and at André Juarez' website you have the opportunity to listen to selected tracks from the CD and further watch some recorded video takes of live-performance presenting material from the CD. I'll end this small review inserting one of the videos that has the recorded studio audio of the composition titled Gato Preto - enjoy! 


Monday, June 23, 2014

1 X 0

There has always been a tight association between music and soccer in Brazil, to this day Brazilian soccer is often referred to as 'samba football' in the media, although it was a choro music celebrity, who linked the association of soccer and music from the start. Pixinguinha's choro "Um a Zero" is the first registered Brazilian composition that celebrates soccer and its players. The background of the title is documented in this entry that also celbrates the first Brazilian star in a line of legendary Brazilian soccer players, Arthur Friedenreich.

Benedito Lacerda (flute), Pixinguinha (saxophone), c. 1946
"1X0" (Um a zero) is a well known and popular choro composed by Pixinguinha and recorded for the first time in 1946 as a co-work with Benedito Lacerda on a 78 rpm disc (Victor 800442A). Lacerda plays the melody part on flute, Pixinguinha contributes second voice and fill-ins on tenor saxophone accompanied by Lacerda's conjunto regional.

The title of this choro has a special background, the music was composed as a tribute to the Brazilian soccer team that won the 1919 South American championship and its first international soccer title in a match with Uruguay with the result 1-0 in favour of the Brazilian team (- thus the title, which in Portuguese reads 'um a zero').

The 1919 Brazilian soccer team
The single goal which secured the Brazilian team victory and the championship was scored by Arthur Friedenreich, the first character in a line of famous Brazilian soccer players.

Arthur Friedenreich (source: Wikipedia)
Arthur Friedenreich (1892-1969) was the son of a German immigrant and his wife, the daughter of a black freed slave. Due to his dark tan Arthur Friedenreich became the first black professional soccer player in Brazil. He started his career influenced by his father, playing for SC Germania, a Brazilian soccer team in São Paulo composed of German immigrants. After playing with a succession of São Paulo clubs from 1910 onwards, Friedenreich made his debut with the national team in 1914. He played twenty-two internationals, including wins in the 1919 and 1922 editions of the Copa América, scoring ten goals. On Brazil's 1925 tour of Europe, he was feted as the King of soccer (- and nicknamed 'The Tiger'). He also has a claim to the highest scoring record, but FIFA cannot prove these goals because of incomplete record-keeping.

Arthur Friedenreich secures the victory 1-0, 1919
As mentioned, Friedenreich was the first black professional soccer player in Brazil. He had to fight for his career both inside and outside the arena, because at that time soccer was dominated by whites and blacks were generally not accepted. He faced many barriers because of racism, and he could not always attend the same places where white players were. However, his scoring of the single goal in the 1919 match was a turning point that secured him accept and a  deserved place in the Brazilian soccer's Hall of Fame. And it was to honor this first black star in a line of legendary Brazilian soccer players that Pixinguinha composed his 'choro vivo', "Um a zero" (1x0).

Multi string virtuoso Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha)
As a prelude to the alleged repeated success of the soccer World Cup 1950 in Brazil, where Brazil again was to meet Uruguay in the decisive final, Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha, 1915-55) had recorded his version of "Um a Zero" in 1949 as a tribute to the Brazilian team. Unfortunately, this time Brazil lost the championship with the result 2-1 in favour of Urguay (- still a national trauma to this day!). However, the music recorded by Garoto forever stands out as one of the best recorded versions of Pixinguinha's choro

Pixinguinha's "Um a Zero" is the first registered musical composition that celebrates soccer in Brazil and honors its players. Although the music wasn't recorded before 1946 and copyrighted 1947, the score was composed at the time of the event it celebrates - Pixinguinha is said to have attended the audience at the legendary 1919 match between Brazil and Uruguay, and to express his enthusiasm for the result, he went straight home and composed the music of "1x0/Um a Zero".

The photos documenting the 1919 match betwen Brazil and Uruguay inserted above are copied from this sourceThe story of Arthur Friedenreich and inspiration for this entry owes thanks to this source.