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Choro music developed towards the end of the 19th Century, at roughly the same time as samba. Similar in tone and spirit to North American dixieland music, choro is also primarily instrumental, and features extensive improvisation, typically on piano, flute, saxophone and stringed instruments such as the guitar and bandolim. Like samba music, choro went through a post-bossa nova period of revival and neo-traditionalism, and the two styles - choro and acoustic samba - have become closely intertwined.

Recommended Records

Agua De Moringa "Agua De Moringa" (Lagoo, 1995)

Agua De Moringa "Saracoteando" (Rob Digital, 1995)

Agua De Moringa "As Ineditas De Pixinguinha" (Sony, 2002)

Severino Araujo - see artist discography

Marcos Ariel "... And Tigres Da Lapa" (Rob Digital, 2005)

Armandinho - see artist discography

Waldir Azevedo - see artist discography

Banda Mantiqueira "Aldeia" (Blue Jackel, 1996)
A smooth Braz-jazz album, heavy on the brass section. This all-instrumental album takes a few nods at choro legend, Pixinguinha, as well as towards the smooth bossa nova sounds of the early '60s... This all by way of a peppy Doc Severinsen style latter-day big band style. This was a little too smooth for me, but it's not overly glitzy by any means, and may be something you'd like, if you're looking for something in a mellow jazz mode.

Banda Mantiqueira "Bixiga" (Blue Jackel/Pau Brasil, 2002)
Pretty cool! Anyone intrigued by the mix of Brazilian and big band motifs on Banda Mantiqueira's 1996 album, Aldeia, will be delighted by this latter-day gafieira outing, in which the swanky jazz elements are punched up and perfected. This is the kind of dynamic crosscultural mix that Stan Kenton and his peers were searching for in their mid-'50s explorations of Cuban and Latin-American melodies... pretty engaging and seldom overplayed, and less mellow than earlier Mantiqueira recordings. Nice lingering hints of the Dixieland-ish choro style of dimly-remembered Brazilian artists such as Sinho and Pixinguinga. Includes radically reimagined arrangements of songs by Joao Bosco and old-school sambista, Cartola. Definitely worth checking out!

Leal Brito "The Piano Of Leal Brito -- Recordings: 1953-1957" (Black Round Records, 2009)
Vintage kitsch. A mix of nightclubby piano plinking and light-pop choro revival tunes, featuring the pianist nicknamed Britinho, both solo and with minimal accompaniment by some top-flight musicians such as guitarist Ze Menezes and clarinetist Abel Ferreira. These are hardly electrifying performances, but its still an interesting curio from the pre-bossa nova era. The first eight tracks are solo pieces, while the rest of the collection reissues a 1957 album called Noel Rosa Sem Parceiros.

Ricardo Camargos "Piano Pixinguinha" (Velas, 1995)
Delightful solo piano performances, not just of antique compositions by the great choro composer Pixinguinha, but of a dozen or so long-lost, never before recorded Pixinguinha pieces that Camargos discovered while conducting research in the national archives in Rio de Janeiro. Choro music lends itself well to the piano -- it brings out the connections to ragtime and early jazz -- plus it just sounds great. Lovely stuff, clearly from a different time and place, and fully evocative of its era. Recommended.

Camerata Brasil "Bach In Brazil" (EMI-Varig Brasil, 2000)
Brazilian choro music, bent in the service of baroque and classical music. It's a pretty nice fit, though at times the repetitive choro instrumentation threatens to descend into mere perkiness (a hazard of the genre...) Still, the mix of music is nice, with compositions by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Radames Gnattali and J.S. Bach alongside tunes by Abel Ferreira, Pixinguinha and other choristas. This didn't totally floor me, but it's pretty nice.

Altamiro Carrilho - see artist discography

Henrique Cazes - see artist discography

Chapeu De Palha "Choro, Samba E Gafieira" (Radio MEC/Rob Digital, 2003)

Os Choroes "Chorinhos Da Pesada" (Serie Choro -- Grandes Solistas) (Odeon, 1971)
A disappointing set of modernized choro music, churned out and given a glitzy, slightly Vegas-y, big-bandish sheen. This jazz/gafieira supergroup included flautist Altamiro Carrilho, trombonist Raul De Barros, clarinetist Abel Ferreira, pianist (and grise eminence) Radames Gnattali and others... Lots of instrumental talent, but the tone of the album is a too brisk and prefab, a bit too controlled. Didn't work for me, at least.

Choronas "Atraente" (Paulus, 2005)

Choronas "Convida" (Paulus, 2005)

Choronas "O Brasil Toca Choro" (Tratore, 2008)

Conjunto Sarau "Cordas Novas" (Rob Digital, 2003)

Os Coroas No Choro "Os Coroas No Choro" (RGE, 1985)
The bouncy instrumental style of choro legend, Pixinguinha, brought into the modern age. Nary a synthesizer or string section to be heard here; just the lilt of the cavaquinho and guitar. Okay, so after about five songs in a row, this may start to sound repetitive, but it's such a great sound, it's really hard to complain... Sweet stuff.

Canhoto Da Paraiba "Pisando Em Brasa (Walking On Coals)" (Caju/Fantasy, 1993)
A dazzling all-instrumental album by a lightning-fast old-time guitar player from the northeastern state of Paraiba. This disc opens with several tour de force performances, full of astonishing dexterity and playful improvisation. Canhoto was 65 when he recorded this album, yet his playing had a facility and speed that few youngsters could hope to match. Fans of acoustic guitar work should find themselves wowed by this little gem. Recommended!

Ze Da Velha & Silverio Pontes "So Gafieira" (Kuarup/Biscoito Fino, 1996)

Ze Da Velha & Silverio Pontes "Tudo Danco: Choros, Maxixes E Sambas" (Rob Digital, 2001)

Ze Da Velha & Silverio Pontes "Ele E Eu" (Kuarup, 2001)

Ze Da Velha & Diplomata "Coracao Machucado" (Atracao, 2002)

Ze Da Velha & Silverio Pontes "Si Pixinguinha" (Biscoito Fino, 2006)

Paulinho Da Viola - see artist discography

Amaro Da Souza/Haraldo De Oliveira "Saudades Do Brasil" (Arion, 1975)
A fabulous album! Half scholarly, ethno-musicological exposition, half butt-shakin' block party, this is a fab collection of instrumental tracks that run the gamut Brazilian dance styles, from thumping bass-heavy batucadas and slinky capoeira to sambas and proto-sambas like the maxixe, baiao and choro. Although true to the rhythms, Da Sousa's ensemble leans heavily towards the melody, which is just fine by me... The CD reissue features a half dozen or so extra tracks, separate from the original recordings with Da Souza's ensemble... they're a little less engaging, but certainly don't detract from the charm and vitality of the album. I love this disc!

Jacob Do Bandolim - see artist discography

Mane Do Cavaco "Martinho Da Vila Apresenta Mane Do Cavaco" (RCA, 1973)
Cavaquinho whiz Mane Do Cavaco whirls through a lively set of choro and samba instrumentals, evoking the spirit of Jacob Do Bandolim, though with modernized dips into the pagode samba sound that was emerging at the time, and even shows off a little taking a spin at a Johann Sebastian Bach melody (which he includes in a medley of classic tunes by Pixinguinha and Jacob Do Bandolim...) Do Cavaco's technique is rather emphatic and forceful -- although he's clearly a virtuoso, he doesn't throw in as many of the super-sweet licks that make the best choro music sound so subtle and refined. Regardless, this is a very nice record, packed with dazzling performances and fun melodies... Recommended!

Donga/Various Artists "A Musica De Donga" (Philips, 1974)
Legendary samba composer Donga (1890-1974) was a Rio native who worked for decades with choro pioneer Pixinguinha, and whose song "Pelo Telefone" is considered to have been the first samba song ever recorded, back in 1917. This album, which was released the year he died, is a tribute featuring artists such as Almirante, Elizete Cardoso, drummer Mestre Marcal, and an up-and-coming Leci Brandao. The disc also features a lengthy interview from 1969 wherein Donga discusses his career and music... Donga can be heard performing with Pixinguinha in the Oitos Batutas group, as well as in their Depression-era band, the Orquestra Tipica Donga-Pixinguinha. But for a more modern, nostalgic look at his work, this disc is pretty nice.

Epoca De Ouro/Various Artists "Cafe Brasil" (Teldec, 2001)

Epoca De Ouro/Various Artists "Cafe Brasil, v.2" (Warner, 2003)

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