Sunday, June 18, 2006

More Choro

Yves Francois Smierciak sent an extensive reaction to the 78-L list and he allowed me to post it here.

Hans, this one (and all of us here at 78L should have known that I would jump on this one!) interests me very much. Not all Choro developed on string instruments, as you well know. The earliest recorded Afro Diaspora instrumentalist was the legendary flutist Pixinguinha in 1911 (before Jim Europe's ensemble with Cricket Smith by 2 years) recorded on Favorite Records 1.450006 (and reissued on Fremeaux FA 66 "Choro" 1906/1947), and if you listen to the recording Sao Joao Debaixo D'Agua, you can really hear the similarity between this music and the New Orleans music of, say, Jelly Roll Morton
(note the oficleide* parts polyphony to Pixinguinha's flute lead) even more than the string players (not to knock some of the greatest string musicians came from the Choro tradition, Jacob do Bandolim and Joao Pernambuco are two of dozens of great players).
Indeed,several recordings made in the 1946/7 era were recorded when he switched to tenor sax and had Benedito Lacerda on flute (the immortal recording 1X0 is from this series), also have the polyphonic tendencies of New Orleans jazz or Biguine (from Martinique, try Stellio's recordings from 1929/31 on Fremeaux, or the remarkable trumpeter Abel Beauregard's few recordings with Orchestre Creole Matou from 1934 or so).

Of course Choro did develop as a quieter form of music than their louder New Orleans cousins (there is little trumpet in Brazil's early improvised music, though Pixinguinha ensembles did have trumpets off and on from 1922 onwards, I do not know if the 1922/3 ensemble recorded with the added horns, and if it did, was it polyphonic, the 1930's recordings were not in the same tradition, more martial or big band, and the traditions of music give a musician like Luis Americano a cooler tone on clarinet than his counterparts in

The instrument oficleide is a brass instrument with a sound not unlike a baritone horn or trombone, was popular in both Cuban and early Choro groups, disappeared for some reason in the 1920's. ( see the image )

Martinique, Haiti or New Orleans, but I find Choro, along with early Cuban Danzones and Biguines to be the recorded proof that while New Orleans Jazz unique, it is far from the only creole (using this maligned term as an ethno linguist here, I am referring to the way two languages of music form a common ground to communicate with, like Biguine, New Orleans Jazz or Choro, much like a language like Lingala from the port areas of Congo made it easier for the various people there to communicate with each other)improvised art form, and it makes sense that musicians from these backgrounds could become great jazz men with the same passions that musicians from the USA could.

Hans (and anyone else interested in this music), have you checked the entire series on Fremeaux regarding music from Brazil, there are excellent recordings from 1906 to 1954 on about 6 2Cd sets, varied musics and all of great interest,

Yves Francois Smierciak

Thanks Yves Francois for your extensive contribution. Anyone who feels he has to share something about our common passions if invited to send me his . hers contributions.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Yves, for your very interesting info regarding choro and the importance of reed instruments in the development of the genre. Your pointing out similarities with other regional Latin creole music traditions is crucial, but unfortunately much overlooked in the general story of choro as well as jazz. Anyway, thanks again!


9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want more information about the "oficleide" (also spelled Ophicleide) please vist I did not know that Ophicleides were so often used in the 20th Century! The sound quality and pitch accuracy of the Tuba and Euphonium made the Ophicleide pretty much obsolete in Europe and the United States by 1890...

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi all,
Possibly this link has already been posted

Richard Stevens

6:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found another interesting article about Choro history at with comments about the use of "oficleide" and tubas.

Are there re-creation choro bands in Brazil or other places using the early instruments?

6:52 PM  

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