Grupo Falso Baiano – Simplicidade: Live at Yoshi’s – Massaroca Records

by | Oct 29, 2011 | Jazz CD Reviews

Grupo Falso Baiano – Simplicidade: Live at Yoshi’s – Massaroca Records MR20111, 54.2 min. *****:
Choro or chorinho was the first urban pop music to come out of Brazil, originating in the 19th century in Rio. It is a mostly instrumental style characterized by improvisation, syncopation, counterpoint, virtuosity, subtle modulations and happy rhythms. You might even think of it as a sort of Brazilian folk jazz. Originally it was played be a trio of flute, acoustic guitar, and cavaquinho (a little four-string instrument). Large groupings could have mandolin, clarinet, sax, trumpet and trombone, often backed with a rhythm section of guitars and light percussion. Choro compositions usually have three parts played in rondo form: AABBACCA, each one usually in a different key. The choro also incorporated other musical styles from Europe and Africa, just as ragtime in the U.S. and tango in Argentina did. Villa-Lobos defined choro as the true incarnation of Brazilian soul, and Gnattali said it was the most sophisticated instrumental pop music in the world.
Grupo Falso Baiano is basically a quartet with one performer on reeds, one on mandolin, one on 7-string guitars, and another on percussion. But for this live appearance at the leading jazz club in the San Francisco area—Yoshi’s in Oakland—the quartet was rounded out with leading performer Jovino Santos Neto on a half dozen of the tracks, playing piano, accordion or flute. And also percussionist Brian Rice sitting in on four of the ten tracks. Neto is the composer of four of the tracks, and the famous choros composer of the ‘50s and ‘60s—Jacob do Bandolim—is represented by two tracks. The great late Brazilian accordionist and guitarist Sivuca has two pieces on the CD, and the third track is from the earlier choros pioneer Pixinguinha, with a ragtime feeling to it.
The quartet offers various perspectives on this folk form which is becoming better known in modern Brazilian jazz interpretations. One is the more historical style, with slower tempi and a more stately mien, another is the jazz samba mode, and the third is a faster-paced modern choro with flute, mandolin and accordion solos. Great fun! If this resonates with you, you might want to try some of the choros-based releases on the Adventure Music label—many featuring U.S. mandolinist Mike Marshall.
Caminhando, Simplicidade, Cheguei, Feira Livre, Kenny e Voce, Rosa Digana, Bem Brasil, Deixa O Breque, Doce de Coco, Forro na Penha.
—John Henry

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