What’s Jazz Got To Do With It
Apart from the fact that Jazz is a style of music, as is Choro.
I mistakenly came to the conclusion that Choro is a sub-genre of Jazz. How wrong I was. It isn’t, and it’s highly unlikely that it ever will be. As you will see as you read on, I penned this piece assuming that Choro needed Jazz as it’s bigger sibling. But in my own defence. I’m an idiot.
For a beautifully written explanation on Choro by Luisa, click here
But the original and somewhat inaccurate article is as follows…….
So I asked my good AI friend Chat GPT to explain Brazillian Jazz to me. Here’s what it told me.
“Brazilian jazz, also known as bossa nova, is a genre of music that originated in Brazil in the late 1950s and gained international popularity in the 1960s. It is a fusion of Brazilian rhythms, melodies, and harmonies with elements of jazz, resulting in a unique and captivating musical style.
The roots of Brazilian jazz can be traced back to the traditional music of Brazil, such as samba and choro. These genres provided the foundation for the rhythmic and melodic characteristics of bossa nova. However, Brazilian jazz also incorporated harmonic and improvisational elements from American jazz, creating a hybrid sound that appealed to a global audience.
The most prominent figure associated with Brazilian jazz is Antônio Carlos Jobim, a renowned composer, pianist, and guitarist. Jobim, along with other influential musicians like João Gilberto and Vinicius de Moraes, played a crucial role in popularizing bossa nova both in Brazil and abroad. Their collaborations produced timeless classics like “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Desafinado,” which became iconic songs within the genre.
Bossa nova is characterized by its laid-back and smooth feel, often featuring gentle guitar strumming, subtle percussion, and soft, melodic vocals. The rhythm is typically syncopated, with the guitar providing a steady pulse while the voice or other instruments float over it. The harmonies are often rich and sophisticated, influenced by jazz chord progressions.
One distinctive aspect of Brazilian jazz is its lyrical content, which often reflects themes of romance, nature, and the beauty of everyday life. The lyrics are usually sung in Portuguese, although some songs have been translated into English and other languages for international audiences.
Over the years, Brazilian jazz has continued to evolve and incorporate new influences, blending with other genres like jazz fusion, Latin jazz, and world music. Contemporary Brazilian jazz musicians, such as Hermeto Pascoal, Eliane Elias, and Hamilton de Holanda, have expanded the boundaries of the genre while remaining true to its core elements.
In summary, Brazilian jazz, or bossa nova, is a captivating musical genre that emerged in Brazil in the late 1950s. It combines Brazilian rhythms and melodies with jazz harmonies and improvisation, creating a smooth and sophisticated sound. With its romantic lyrics and gentle instrumentation, Brazilian jazz has enchanted listeners worldwide and continues to be a cherished part of the global music scene.”
So I then asked my learned artificial friend to explain “Choro” to me.
“Choro is a popular genre of music that originated in Brazil in the late 19th century. It is often considered the first urban popular music style in Brazil and is known for its vibrant melodies, complex harmonies, and intricate rhythms. Choro is characterized by its lively and improvisational nature, blending elements of European classical music, African rhythms, and Brazilian folk music.
The word “choro” translates to “cry” or “lament” in Portuguese, but the music itself is far from sad or mournful. It is energetic, joyful, and often played with great virtuosity. Choro music is typically performed by small instrumental ensembles, known as “rodas de choro” (choro circles), which consist of various instruments such as the flute, clarinet, mandolin, cavaquinho (a small guitar-like instrument), guitar, and pandeiro (a type of Brazilian tambourine).
In a choro ensemble, musicians engage in improvisation, taking turns playing solos while the rest of the group provides the accompaniment. The music is characterized by its syncopated rhythms, intricate melodies, and harmonic sophistication. Choro compositions often feature fast tempos, complex chord progressions, and frequent modulations, showcasing the technical skill and creativity of the musicians.
Historically, choro music gained popularity in the urban centers of Brazil, particularly Rio de Janeiro. It was performed in various settings, including theaters, cafes, and private gatherings. Over time, choro influenced and interacted with other Brazilian music genres, such as samba and bossa nova, contributing to the rich musical heritage of the country.
Some notable composers and performers associated with choro include Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Ernesto Nazareth, and Waldir Azevedo. Their compositions and recordings have become iconic within the choro repertoire.
Today, choro music continues to thrive in Brazil, with dedicated musicians and enthusiasts keeping the tradition alive. It is also appreciated and performed by musicians worldwide, contributing to the global recognition and dissemination of this unique Brazilian musical style.” -Holy shit! Isn’t that just lazy journalism at its worsest!!
In all honesty, I should have asked it to explain Jazz to me. I think I will, watch this space.
I was invited to a Choro gig last night in the International Bar on Wicklow Street in Dublin. To save you and I 2000 words of bulshit, I was blown away, It was as chilled as I would want any gig to be. The talent was diverse and, well, talented.
I wasn’t sure what to expect given my lack of knowledge on the subject. I wasn’t prepared for what I experienced. There are some styles of music that just don’t translate well recorded, be it Vinyl or One’s and Zeros. Unless that is, you have experienced it live first. It’s like Irish Trad (in my opinion). Studio recorded Trad sounds like a rat being attacked by a cat. But live?! It will blow your mind, warm your blood, and in the worst-case scenario, get your legs moving into a position that would put River Dance to shame. Sorry, did I say River Dance? I meant your entire family.
So I suspect that Choro (for me) has to be absorbed live. From human to human, via vocals or instrument/s. No recording, no editing, no bulshit, just raw. And that is what I experienced last night.
It was a small cozy venue, with a functional bar (very important). From where I sat, the stage was ahead to my right. There was no sound engineer, and there was no need for one. The whole thing was organic inasmuch as it was natural, and chilled. The vibe was eager to consume more.
The Music (Choro)
Not what I was expecting at all. I genuinely assumed that I was going to be bored. I’m genuinely happy that I was wrong in that assumption. Even the warm-up was a delight. And then for the musicians to go from the warm-up straight into their first number like it was something that they did every day before breakfast, it was just pure bliss. Trad live, I enjoy. But I won’t go out of my way to find a Trad gig. As for Choro? I’ll be back!
I will be presenting a podcast on Brazillian Music in the near future, and I will be playing the snippets that I recorded from last night.. Will the show be a mixture of different Brazillian styles of music? Will it be Brazillian Jazz with the subsect of Choro? Will it be just Choro? As of yet. I have no clue. In any event, no matter what I say, no matter what I play…. You have to experience it live to fully understand.
Chorando Lá Fora
Consisting of five very talented, and as one, totally in sync individuals. Andryas Mariotto, (Mandolin), Antônio Proença, (Bass), Franklin Martins, (Cavaquinho), Gaudiê Otero, (7 strings guitar), William, Alexandre, (Pandeiro). SEVEN String guitar?? Holy shit, I can barely manage 4. These guys gell well. their flow is fluid and flawless. They have to be seen/heard live and in person to be appreciated fully.
Where do I go from here?
I find out more. Last night was just an intro for me. I went along to see where it would take me. And I’m here now. I will go to see them again. But next time I’ll be a little more prepared. I might even know where the Gent’s toilets are (inside joke).
I would like to thank Louisa (Lulù) of Lulù’s Jazz Club for inviting me along last night. I hope I get invited again. For more information visit Lulù’s Jazz Club on Facebook for future events. https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087709240798
Thanks for having me.