Saturday, March 31, 2012

Antonio Adolfo: Chora Baião

I'm an armchair fan of Brazilian music; I don't consider myself an expert, but I know what I like, and I know enough to recognize the authentic. Brazilian music seems to get lumped into the "latin" music category, however, it has some distinct differences. The sub-genres and associated rhythms(samba,  baião, bossa nova, choro) might share qualities with Afro-Cuban or Carribean styles to those with an untrained ear. And yes, the original source of all of these New World styles is Africa, and it's all in how the African ideas mixed with the music of the respective European conquerers. I've spent time playing with various Afro-cuban and salsa projects, but I lean a bit more towards the Brazilian styles, maybe because they seem somewhat more pliable, which makes it more adaptable to jazz music. Also, I used to work with a bass player in Washington, D.C. named David Jernigan who taught me a lot about Brazilian music. (Also, my wife, pianist Kerry Politzer, is an expert on Brazilian music as well.)

Antonio Adolfo is a great Brazilian jazz pianist; his latest CD is called "Chora  Baião". The baião rhythm is   a unique rhythm: 

It's  like the first half of a 3:2 Clave in Afro cuban music. And "Choro" music is a style which is very much related to ragtime music in form and melody. (Think "Chico Chico No fubá")

"Chora  Baião" features a few originals from Adolfo, but also features music by two Brazilian composers: Chico Buarqe and Guinga. Buarque is a well known and very prolific artist. Guinga, whose name means "Gringo" ( a nickname which came from his light skin), was not known to me before checking out this recording. His career goes back to the 1970's when as a guitarist he accompanied many  well known Brazilian singers, and also had many of his songs recorded. He also apparently had a dental practice for thirty years. Maybe his parents were happier....

Adolfo has a great project here. The rhythm is real and infectious, but the sonorities of guitar, voice, acoustic bass, percussion, and occasional vocal(provided by Carol Saboya, Adolfo's daughter)make a light, chamber music atmosphere which is intriguing but not overbearing. The first tune, "Dá o Pé, Loro (Hey Parrot, Give Me Your Foot)" is a textbook " baião" demonstration, and the melody is very stately and joyous, with nice deliberate solos from Adolfo and guitarist Leo Amuedo. "Nó na Garganta " is a moody bossa tune; the somewhat haunting melody unfolds nicely into mellow solos. The title track,"Chora Baião" might remind you of Chick Corea, who was very influenced by this kind of music. Adolfo's eighth notes are right in the Brazilian vibe, in that they sort of speed up and slow down within a four note grouping. Guitarist Amuedo is a little more rhythmically adventurous.
The next two, "'Você, Você" and "A Ostra e o Vento" feature vocalist Caol Saboya, has what you would expect from a Brazilian singer; her voice is unadorned, clear, and beautiful in it's stoicism. Since "A Ostra e o Vento" is a waltz, Adolfo hints at Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Children's Games" one of my favorite tunes of of the classic Jobim album "Stone Flower".

On "Chicote", there is a Stanley Clarke-ish bass solo from  Jorge Helder, who is outstanding on the entire album. A Great example of samba is "Di Menor", a great Guinga tune, which could be considered the Brazilian equivalent of Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes'  "Mambo Influenciado". On this tune, drummer Rafael Barata and percussionist Marcos Suzano show us how it's done. For Brazilian jazz fans, or for those of you looking for your first experience of hearing Brazilian music, this CD is for you. I leave you with a taste of the title track, just to wet your appetite for this wonderful album by Antonio Adolfo....


  1. Nice analysis, great examples. I too am an amateur fan of musica brasileira, and have immersed myself in this wondrous music for 3 years now. There is nothing else like it on earth. Chora Baiao is a magnficent CD from one of the geniuses of Brazilian music (Antonio Adolfo is best known to gringos as author of "Pretty World.") He runs music schools in Rio and Miami, educating the next generation. His daughter Carol is another treasure. Thank you for your insightful post!

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