To understand contemporary Brazilian music, you have to go back to its roots in choro, chorinho and samba. Guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima has done this on Carioca (meaning “native of Rio de Janeiro”). Choro is connected with the Portuguese word for “cry”, and samba derives from the West African word semba which can also mean “cry”; in other words, two Brazilian forms of the blues! Choro derives from the European music brought by the Portuguese to Brazil and then modified by African and New World influences. Like ragtime, its original tempos were slow; only later on did chorinho, the speeded-up version, gain popularity.
Samba was originally played on percussion instruments and had religious origins in West Africa. Samba was sung and danced while choro was mainly instrumental. The religious origins and the vocal and circle dance elements made samba a natural for carnival; “farewell to meat” was and is a religious celebration and feast preceding the fast of Lent.
Barbosa-Lima has long spearheaded the revival of these classical Brazilian forms. No less than 13 of the pieces on this recording have been arranged by the guitarist in a characteristic style which honors the integrity of the originals while demonstrating the creative and performing genius of the artist.
What Scott Joplin was to ragtime, Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934) was to choro. Born in Rio, Nazareth was influenced by Brazilian street music and by the music of the dance hall. He wrote some 220 mostly piano compositions. Although his influence was enormous, it is only recently that he has been given his due as one of the founders of modern Brazilian music.
All three of Nazareth’s choros here were designated by the composer as “Brazilian tangos.” Brejeiro is the earliest piece, the title literally means “mischievous” but is better translated as “flirtatious.” Carioca was published in 1913 and is dedicated to the actor Olympio Nogueira. Odeon dates from the mid-1920s and celebrates the movie palace in which Nazareth held forth as an accompanist for silent films.
Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho (1897-1973) started his career at the age of 15 under the name Pixinguinha. He quickly become one of Brazil’s leading composers, arrangers, performers, orchestrators and conductors. Carinhoso (“Tenderly”) dates from 1917; it was one of his earliest hits. Cochichando (“Whispering”) was written in 1944 and Um a zero (“1 to 0”) dates from two years later, celebrating a Brazilian soccer victory.
In 1956, the French film director Marcel Camus asked Luiz Bonfá (1922-2001) to contribute some songs to the film Orfeu Negro (“Black Orpheus”). Manha de Carnaval and Samba de Orfeu became huge international hits, ironically overshadowing the original score written by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Passeio no Rio (“A Stroll in Rio”) and Samba de Orfeu (“Samba from Orpheus”) are sambas dating from 1958 and 1956, respectively. Barbosa-Lima’s new arrangements infuse these once-famous pieces with new life.
Along with João Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994) was the creator of bossa nova as well as the composer of some of its greatest hits, many of which have become jazz standards. In 1958, João Gilberto recorded some of his songs and in 1962, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd recorded Desafinado (“Off-Key” or “Out of Tune”), establishing Jobim and bossa nova on the international scene.
Barbosa-Lima was a close friend and colleague of Jobim who gave him many ideas on how to arrange his music for guitar. Barbosa-Lima, while keeping Desafinado’s Brazilian character intact, gives it a fresh interpretation that marries classical style to the bossa nova and samba roots of the original. Jobim’s original introduction now appears as a break in the percussion solos. Samba de uma nota só (“One-Note Samba”) dates from a couple of years later and, like most of Jobim’s music, has the unmistakable musical thumbprint of its composer.
Paulo Bellinati was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1940. Bellinati’s devotion to Brazilian traditions is shown by his Um Amor de Valsa (“A Love of Waltz”) written in 1989 in the form of a traditional Brazilian Serenade Waltz.
Composer, double-bassist and guitarist Byron Yasui is the chair of graduate studies in music at the University Of Hawai’i in his native Honolulu. He has performed with the Honolulu Symphony and in duo with Barbosa-Lima. His Romance was written in the late 1970s but revised for guitar in the mid-nineties.
Puerto Rican composer and guitarist Ernesto Cordero is currently Professor of Composition and Guitar at the University of Puerto Rico. His large catalogue of original works includes five concertos for guitar. Three of his songs are performed here with Barbosa-Lima, by the famous Puerto Rican singer Danny Rivera. The first two are Renunciar (“Renunciation) and Entre Guitarra y Voz (“Between the Guitar and the Voice”, with lyrics by Danny Rivera that invoke Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican identity). These both show the influence of the Cuban bolero while the third, La Voz del Güiro (“The Voice of the Guiro,”) is in a more declamatory story-telling style.
Carlos Barbosa-Lima, center, with Nilson Matta, left, and Duduka Da Fonseca, right, at the "Carioca" recording sessions in Chinatown, New York, in June 2005.
Colombian composer and guitarist Alvaro Dalmar (1923 1999) went to Hollywood where he worked on film scores and taught guitar. His extensive output comprises some 2000 folk-influenced works. Barbosa-Lima has arranged a number of Dalmar’s works from manuscript and brought the neglected music of this talented composer back into circulation, including Soy (“I am”) and Poema de Amor (“Love Poem”).
Carlos Payés is a composer from El Salvador. Lorena was co-arranged by Barbosa-Lima with the composer, expanding the original with a polyphonic texture that, like many of the pieces on this album, reinterprets and universalizes a folk-based esthetic with classical form and technique.
For almost four decades, Carlos Barbosa-Lima has been regarded as one of the most creative and versatile guitarists on the world stage. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, he began studying the guitar at the age of seven - among his teachers was the legendary André Segovia - and made his concert debut five years later. He began his recording career while still in his teens. Since his US debut in 1967, he has enjoyed a global concert career marked by numerous distinguished recordings on the Concord and ZOHO labels. The breadth of his repertoire and his unique ability to integrate diverse musical styles from classical to Brazilian and jazz are strong features of his work. Many important composers have written music for him, and he has premiered such landmark works as Alberto Ginastera's Sonata, opus 47. Barbosa-Lima plays a guitar made by Richard Prenkert (2002).
Danny Rivera is one of the great stars of contemporary Puerto Rican music. Born in Santurce in 1945, he was a well established singer by the time he was in his 20s, performing live, on radio and television, and in a series of hit recordings starting in the late 1960s. His recordings and CDs have gone gold three times and silver four times; he has received three Grammy nominations and won numerous prizes and honors throughout Latin America.
Duduka da Fonseca was born in Rio de Janeiro and began playing the drums at the age of 12. In short order, he appeared on television and performed with the top musicians in Brazil. In 1975, he moved to New York from where he has continued his career, working with a long list of the great Brazilian and jazz musicians of our time, including Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto. He is the drummer of the internationally renowned Brazilian jazz ensemble “Trio da Paz”, with Romero Lubambo, guitar, and Nilson Matta, bass. Duduka’s new CD, “Samba Jazz in Black and White,” with his current Quintet, will be released by ZOHO in 2006.
Marcílio Marques Lopes, mandolinist, is a graduate of Uni-Rio, a pupil of César Guerra-Peixe, himself a violinist, mandolinist and composer, and a player in the tradition of the great Brazilian mandolinist Jacob do Bandolin.
Bassist Nilson Matta also worked with the leading artists of Brazilian music. In 1985, he moved to New York where he has performed and recorded with major Latin and jazz artists. He founded the African Brazilian Connection with pianist Don Pullen; the quintet released three critically acclaimed CDs for Blue Note. Among his many other albums is “The Magic” recorded with Luis Bonfá in Brazil in 1992, and the “Obrigado Brazil” series with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, in 2003 and 2004. Eric Salzman
Produced by Heiner Stadler. Recorded, edited and mixed at PRT Studio, Puerto Nuevo, Puerto Rico, in 2005. Engineer: Pedro Rivera Toledo. Additional recordings at Maverick Recording, New York, NY. Engineer : Randy Funke. Further recordings at Tenda da Raposa Studio, Rio de Janeiro. Engineer : Carlos Fuchs. Mastered at PRT Studio, Puerto Nuevo, PR, by Pedro Rivera Toledo.Photography: Sergio Royzen, Dr. Guillermo Velazquez (Danny Rivera). Package Design: 3+Co. (www.threeandco.com) Executive Producers: Joachim Becker and Roger Davidson.
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