San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Choro music from Brazil began in the late 1800’s, growing out of the popular European dance music of the era, polka, waltzes, schottisches, quadrilles and mazurkas. These styles mixed with African syncopation to form an instrumental style of music that may sound a bit like ragtime or Dixieland jazz to the American listener. Both choro and early forms of jazz are characterized by their use of improvisation and the mixing of European and African elements. The word “choro” means to weep or cry in Portuguese referring to the wistful and sometimes melancholy sound of the music, but the music can also be elative and upbeat, with occasional break-neck tempos and often great virtuosity. Though a typical choro uses the European rondo form of AABBACCA, musicians will often stretch and expand that to open up space for improvisation.
Choro has in recent years enjoyed a renaissance with many new groups forming in and outside of Brazil. These modern chorões (choro musicians) are pushing the tradition and expanding the musical boundaries of the style. This ensemble will feature a brilliant young player from Brazil, Almir Cortes on mandolin, and members of Mike Marshall’s Choro Famoso, Colin Walker on guitar, Andy Connell on clarinet and Brian Rice on pandeiro.
Almir Cortes, an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and educator from Bahia-Brazil plays mandolin, guitar, cavaquinho and viola caipira. Though he is a very well rounded player, Mr. Cortes is a brilliant choro musician, and has shown promise as a rising star of the style. Mr. Cortes is on the faculty of the 2012 Mandolin Symposium. He received his undergraduate diploma in classical guitar from UFBA (Federal University of Bahia), and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in popular music performance from UNICAMP (State University of Campinas). He has been a visiting scholar at the Jazz Studies Department at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, and has played professionally and held workshops all over Brazil, In the United States and in Europe. Among his most important performances are the Latin Music and Culture Celebration (Berklee College of Music), XIV Festival de Música Instrumental da Bahia, The Mandolin Symposium 2011, Lotus World Music & Arts festival and Virada Cultural Paulista.
Clarinetist and saxophonist Andy Connell has performed in ensembles ranging from jazz to classical to Brazilian music. He is a member of the group Mike Marshall and Choro Famoso, and has performed with artists such as Luciano Pavarotti, Dave Leibman, Lou Rawls, Jennifer Holliday, Rogério Souza and Claudia Villela. Andy has appeared at the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Montreux–Detroit Jazz Festival, the San Francisco jazz festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He has recorded for the Musical Heritage Society, Intrada, Adventure Music, Earthbeat! Traveler, and Acoustic Levitation labels. In addition to his work as a performer, Andy is an ethnomusicologist whose primary research focuses on issues of musical identity and globalization in Brazilian popular instrumental music. He is currently an Associate Professor of Music at James Madison University in Virginia.
Brian Rice received his B.M. in Percussion and Ethnomusicology from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and is an acclaimed performer, educator and recording artist adept at numerous musical styles. Brian is known as one of the “go to” players of the Brazilian pandeiro. Brian's obsession with the pandeiro has led him to study with Luis Guello, Marcos Suzano, Airto, Claudio Bueno and Clarice Magalhaes, and his prowess on the instrument has led him to perform with numerous Brazilian artists including, Jovino Santos Neto, Paulo Sergio Santos, Danilo Brito, Dudu Maia, Alessandro Penezzi, and Jorge Alabe. It was studies with Marcos Suzano that inspired Brian to expand his use of the pandeiro outside the Brazilian music world and apply it to Balkan, Celtic, Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Cuban music with great effect.
Brian teaches percussion and ukulele at Musically Minded Academy, and is a freelance percussionist in the Bay Area. Brian currently performs with Choro Famoso, Wake the Dead, the PickPocket Ensemble, Cascada de Flores, Earplay Jazz Quintet, Grupo Samba Rio, the Berkeley Choro Ensemble, and many others.
Specializing in the seven-string guitar, Colin Walker has dedicated more than a decade to performing Brazilian music. He has studied both in Brazil and in the U.S. with guitarists such as Guinga, Mauricio Carrilho, Arnaldino do Cavaco and João Junqueira. Building on a close study of samba and choro music, he has developed a nuanced accompaniment style reflecting a diverse stylistic background. As a member of the group Choro Famoso, led by mandolinist Mike Marshall, Walker has appeared throughout the Western U.S. at events including the Wintergrass Music Festival, the Live Oak Music Festival and others. In 2007 he completed a two-year study of Brazilian percussion with Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro as part of the Durfee Foundation’s Master Musician Grant program. In 2008 he facilitated workshops with Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro in Brazilian music for professional musicians supported by the City of Los Angeles’s Artist-in-residence program.
When & Where
Musically Minded Academy
Phone: 510 601 5700