Choro Ensemble Album Released in USA

New York City, USA – Circular Moves has released the new
album by Choro Ensemble, Choro Ensemble (CIM 7017). The
instrumental genre of Brazilian music created in the 19th century served
as inspiration and guiding light to composers like Villa-Lobos and Tom
Jobim. Choro, which means “cry”, strongly combines elements of
classical, popular and African music in an elegant and virtuosistic way.
Poetic alliteration drives several tunes and anyone can identify follow
the soccer player dribbling an adversary in A Ginga do Mane. Choro was
born in Rio de Janeiro, through a mixing of polka, waltz, mazurka and
African rhythms. Former slaves and mestizos put together an original
musical style with instruments like flute, clarinet, guitar, light
percussion and cavaquinho, a Portuguese soprano guitar that resembles
the ukelele.This rich tradition was brought to New York City by Choro Ensemble. Sao
Paulo native and choro scholar Pedro Ramos, a cavaquinho player, started
looking for virtuoso instrumentalists to play the music he could not
live without right after moving here at the end of 1999. “I wanted a
traditional format -guitar, wind, cavaquinho and pandeiro-, playing in a
contemporary fashion, with a lot of improvisation and original
compositions and arrangements
.”

Besides fellow Brazilians Carlos Almeida, Gustavo Dantas and Ze
Mauricio, he found Anat Cohen, an accomplished horn player from Israel
who was last seen at Carnegie Hall in January doing a solo act with the
NY Pops and the Diva Jazz Orchesta on a tribute to Benny Goodman. “On
my first encounter with choro, I found it to be very challenging, since
it demands virtuosic abilities on the instrument. I was also glad to
find a genre where clarinet fit in
.”

I started playing with Pedro in 2000. In January 2001 I went to
Brazil and after meeting most of the choro community in Rio, I fell in
love with the warmth of the people, their kind of jam sessions, the
enthusiasm of the new generation for this music. I came back to New York
and said ‘that’s it, time to get serious about it’
“. And get serious
they did. Choro Ensemble has been a guest of Winton Marsalis and The
Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in the Apollo Theater and acclaimed by
Time Out magazine as one of the five best weekly gigs in New York.
Paquito D’Rivera said the presentation of the group during his birthday
party was “the best present I ever got“.

The definitive refinement of choro came through Pixinguinha, a
classically trained flute and saxophone player and composer. Further
development came through mandolinist Jacob do Bandolin, born in Rio in
1918 to a Russian Jewish mother.

The playful, soulful symmetry of choro, the “crying” sound of the
clarinet reminded Anat of the klezmer songs she grew up listening to. “When
I play, I pay respect to the tradition and the great masters of choro,
but I also use a lot of improvisation and bring elements from other
kinds of music I found in my path: traditional swing, modern jazz,
klezmer, Cuban and Venezuelan
.”

The mix of cultures that defines the New York flavor is echoed in
Choro Ensemble’s sound. Living in the city for several years, all band
members have worked with other styles. Gustavo Dantas, who also spent 10
years in Europe, applied his classical training to funk, fusion, reggae,
jazz and African styles. Ze Mauricio showed his percussion skills in a
Yo-Yo Ma album. Pedro was trained as a jazz guitarist at Los Angeles’
Musicians Institute of Technology and is finishing a Master’s Degree in
Composition at the City University of New York. The anchor of Brazilian
music tradition is Carlos Almeida, who as a teenager in the 1970s played
with the old choro masters in the Sunday jam sessions in the suburbs of
Rio de Janeiro. This experience enabled him to proceed on a career
playing with samba legends, such as Beth Carvalho and Alceu Maia. Carlos
founded the decade-old Saveiro, now the most famous Brazilian band in
the United States, with presentations at Lincoln Center and Central
Park’s Summer Stage on the resume. Finding Choro Ensemble “was a
revival, feelings that were dormant came back
“, he says.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central

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