Rio, Choro, Jazz…, by Straight No Chaser

Last week I posted Podcast 424, a conversation with guitarist Les Sabler on his tribute album to Antonio Carlos Jobim, the great Brazilian composer of bossa novas. The bossa nova, the hybrid of samba and jazz that was born in the 1950s and came of age in the early Sixties is but one of the Brazilian musical forms that have merged with jazz to create memorable results. Another is the “choro” (pronounced sho-ro, and translated from Portuguese, “cry”), a merger of Afro-Brazilian Rhythms and European Art Music. Imagine Chopin crossed with Talking Drums and you get the rough idea.

The “Jobim of the Choro” might well be Ernesto Júlio de Nazareth (1863 –1934). Nazareth, like his predecessor Joaquim Callado (1848-1880) and the great Pixinguinha (1897 –1973) who followed, created what he called “Brazilian tangos” and successfully merged old and new world music into something uniquely Brazilian. While the choro was eclipsed in popularity by the samba and bossa nova in the Sixties, jazz musicians have embraced the choro. Performers like Anat Cohen (who created the Choro Ensemble to record her versions of classic choros) are keeping the music alive. Pianist Antonio Adolfo’s new CD Rio, Choro, Jazz gives us an opportunity to hear the music of Nazareth in a new setting.

Whether the tunes are the sedate “Brejeiro (Bucolic)” or the ragtime based “Nao Caio Noutra (Better Next Time)”, this is music that moves you and makes you move. Adolfo has wisely put together a band that can handle the variety of tempos and moods. Guitarist Claudio Spiewak in particular is a standout, while Adolfo shows great technique on “Nene (Baby)” and spirit on the closing “Odeon”.