Mauricio Carrilho's living room contains an uncommon piece of furniture: a large metal file cabinet crammed with choro scores. A zealous champion of all that's authentic in Brazilian music, Mauricio, along with his wife Anna, has spent years accumulating a database of instrumental works and their composers.
Although Brazil's popular music is known for its richness, the visitor is startled to find that the Carrilhos have identified more than 1,300 composers born before 1900. Their database lists around 5,000 titles of choro and its close relatives polka, schottisch, quadrille, waltz, and maxixeall composed approximately between 1870 and 1920.
Because choro is essentially a carioca style, Mauricio and Anna tried to limit their research to music created in Rio de Janeiro. Paucity of biographical information has led them to include music from Pernambuco and Bahia in the northeast, Pará in the north, Goiás in the central west, and other states where this urban genre took hold. The music scores come from public institutions (e.g., the National Library or Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil) and from individual collectors, who contributed some rare documents, among them Pixinguinha's father's music notebook.
The trove in the file cabinet is a minable resource for a record label specializing in choro. And such a label now exists. Not surprisingly, this label, Acari Records, counts Mauricio Carrilho among its three owners. The others are Luciana Rabello and João Carlos Carino. The partners need no introduction in samba and choro circles. The first two are known worldwide as virtuosos of their respective instrumentsLuciana on the cavaquinho, Mauricio on the guitar (he is also one of Brazil's foremost arrangers). Carino is an attorney who has dedicated himself to authentic Brazilian music, producing remarkable records (e.g., Elizeth Cardoso's Ary Amoroso) and radio programs. All three got their start working with some of the most legendary names in Brazilian music, and their careers, begun in the mid-seventies, have been associated with projects of the highest caliber.
Projects of high caliber hardly ever arrive on a silver platter. Commercial record labels have never regarded choro as a bankable proposition, although in their day, Jacob do Bandolim and Waldir Azevedo used to register healthy record sales. With little or no media support, musicians are left to fend for themselves, even when they're of the first rung, like Carrilho and Rabello. Having long nurtured a dream of independence, the Acari trio finally embarked on its own course, building a studio with outstanding acoustics in a northern Rio suburb that gave the enterprise its name (a Tupi word, acari stands for a fresh-water fish that is beneficial to the environment). In this studio they began recording choro albums. This spring, Acari Records released its first three discsthe solo debuts of Luciana Rabello, veteran flutist (and Mauricio's father) Álvaro Carrilho, and young flutist Leonardo Miranda. Distinguished by excellenceof music, playing, and productionthese discs have been the object of unreserved praise in the Brazilian press.
Acari is selling its products on the Internet at www.acari.com.br. The web site is proving to be an instant hit, with close to 50,000 visits in its first month online. Several more discs are already recorded (see feature box), and Acari is venturing into music publishing as well, with plans to release sheet music of its recorded compositions in ChoroBook editions that will include interviews, biographical information, and photos.
A master of the cavaquinho dazzles
Luciana Rabello's first solo disc is an album of rare beauty and a splendid showcase for her instrument. The great cavaquinho player debuts here as composer, producer, and arranger, accompanied by a group of old friends, the cream of the profession: Mauricio Carrilho on 6- and 7-string guitars, João Lyra on 6-string guitar, Cristovão Bastos on piano, and Celsinho Silva and his father Jorginho on percussion.
The disc opens with "De Bem Com a Vida," a lively choro dedicated by Luciana to the bandolinista Pedro Amorim and reflecting his infectious joie de vivre. "Velhos Chorões" is a slower composition saluting the great choro musicians of old times, especially Luciana's master, the legendary cavaquinista Canhoto. "Pitangueira," a contemplative choro co-authored with Cristovão Bastos and among the first in their 20-year partnership, is followed by the lovely slow waltz "Morena" by Bastos, written especially for Luciana (she is the morena of the title) and arranged for cavaquinho and piano. "No Balanço da Luciana," a choro in the classic style by Avena de Castro, was dedicated to the artist in 1976, when she was just beginning to play the cavaquinho. In her arrangement, Luciana adhered to Avena's original harmony. "Manga Rosa" was another gift from a master, the great cavaquinista Jonas Pereira da Silva (who improvised the title when he saw the young artist return from the beach sunburned). Again, Luciana's harmony reflects the way Jonas used to play. "Cá Entre Nós," a precocious composition by Luciana and her late brother, legendary guitarist Raphael Rabello, was written when they were in their early teens and bears witness to the long hours the pair used to spend playing along with the masters' discs. A less typical piece is "Valsa do Trovador" by Luciana, Bastos, and Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, who contributed lyrics absent from this beautiful recording of cavaquinho and 7-string guitar. "Flor de Sapucaia," co-authored with Bastos, was created at Luciana's birthday party under the benevolent gaze of maestro Radamés Gnattali and is arranged for conjunto regional and piano. The piano reappears with the cavaquinho in "Flor de Jacarandá," a composition of extraordinary beauty and lyricism. The disc concludes with "Queixa Antiga"the only previously recorded compositionand with another early gift, "Beliscando o Cavaquinho," a choro with a tinge of forró presented to Luciana in 1977 by Sérgio Régis, a student of Jaime Florencethe great Meira.
BrazzilLuciana, your family has produced several outstanding musicians in your generation alone. Can you tell us something about your family history?
Luciana RabelloI was born to a family from the northeast of Brazil, descendents of Spaniards, Dutch, Germans, Portuguese, Indians, and Negroes. A typical Brazilian family [laughs]. On the paternal side, most of the family members were dedicated to pharmaceutical science, commerce, and industry. There were some lawyers and few musicians. My grandfather was one of those few: a bohemian guitarist. His name was Flaviano Lins Rabello, and I didn't know him. On the maternal side, the family was full of repentistas (popular minstrels) and musicians. Otacílio Baptista is the most famous repentista in the family. There are many others. My grandfather, José de Queiroz Baptista, was a music teacher, guitarist, and chorão [choro musician]. We lived in the same house, and he was my first teacher, as is the tradition in the familywe learn at home. All the Baptistas were self-taught, as am I. They were well-read, spoke a number of languages, but usually didn't have much academic study. As a child I heard a lot of choro, a lot of northeastern folklore, a lot of samba, and a lot of classical music. I began to learn guitar at the age of six, and studied classic piano for five years. My brother Raphael always played guitar. Our maternal grandfather taught the first notes to all the grandchildren who were interested. We grew up with choro but had no friends of our own age who liked this kind of music. Choro was something for old people, and we were considered some kind of ETs [laughs].
BrazzilYou and your brother began performing in public at a very early age.
Luciana RabelloThis was in 1975, when Raphael was twelve and I was fourteen. We had come to know the recently formed conjunto Galo Preto, became friends, and started to frequent the rodas de choro at the house of Afonso Machado, bandolinista and leader of the group. I played guitarthis was before I began to play cavaquinho. Raphael met Déo Rian, bandolim player of Época de Ouro, who was impressed with him and arranged for him to become the student of Meira, the great master of the guitar, who played in the regional of Canhoto and was Baden Powell's teacher. In addition to studying with Meira, my brother and I spent hours playing with choro discs, imitating and learning from the masters, above all those of the conjuntos of Canhoto and Jacob do Bandolim.
BrazzilAround that time you formed the conjunto Os Carioquinhas.
Luciana RabelloWe were obsessed with the idea of forming a conjunto. We met Paulinho do Bandolim, Théo (6-string guitar), and Mário (pandeiro). What was missing was the cavaquinho. Raphael, without the slightest ceremony, asked that I abandon the guitar and play cavaquinho so that we could form the group, because there was nobody else. The great decision of a visionary [laughs]. So the group was formed in 1975 and began to receive invitations to various musical get-togethers, where we met all our choro idols: Dino Sete Cordas, Canhoto, Altamiro Carrilho, Waldir Azevedo, Abel Ferreira. They were all very kind and "adopted" us, surrounding us with much affection and advice. Many were touched to see us play, because choro was really old people's music, and it looked as if it would end with them. At Meira's house, Raphael met Mauricio Carrilho, another student of the master. Inevitably, they became close, and Mauricio joined the conjunto, replacing Théo. We met the clarinetist Celso Cruz and Celsinho [Silva] do Pandeiro, who joined us as well. In a roda de choro we got to know Lygia Santos, daughter of the legendary Donga, who directed us to our first professional work. The group didn't have a name. Lygia was very enthusiastic and cried every time she heard uswe didn't quite understand why. Lygia worked for an official cultural organ of the city of Rio de Janeiro and took us to her boss, Comandante Martinho, who was also impressed with aqueles meninos [those kids] and decided to give us work. It was in 1976, and I remember our rushing to get our professional musicians' cards. Our first show was at the quadra [rehearsal hall] of the Mangueira samba school, where we were on the same bill with Época de Ouro, Waldir Azevedo, Copinha, and Quinteto Villa-Lobos. We were named by Comandante Martinho: Os Carioquinhas.
From then on, we received various invitations from record companies. All wanted to exploit the image of the "child prodigies," but not one of them was interested in choro. They wanted us to record rock in choro rhythm, imagine! We ended up recording for Som Livre, as theirs was the best proposal. We succeeded in recording the repertoire we wanted, and the label promised us good publicity through Globo TV, which of course didn't happen. In the recording studio we met the maestro Radamés Gnattali, who liked us a lot and told us to study harmony. He was very impressed with Raphael, as everybody was.
BrazzilOs Carioquinhas was followed by Camerata Carioca.
Luciana RabelloWe were getting a lot of work, but we fought a lotafter all, we were normal adolescents, or almost normal [laughs]. In 1978, the fights spelled the end of the conjunto. Joel Nascimento, who knew of this, invited us to play the suite Retratos for bandolim and orchestra by Radamés Gnattali, which he had commissioned Radamés to adapt for bandolim and a small conjunto at Raphael's suggestion. Radamés wrote the new version but said that it wouldn't work. He didn't believe that a conjunto de choro would count. Joel took the core players of Os Carioquinhas, and we began to rehearse the suite, which we presented to the maestro at his birthday party, on 27 January 1979. Radamés loved it and decided to write other arrangements for the group, saying that he himself would play in that formation. Hermínio Bello de Carvalho was present at the party and organized what he saw happening before his eyes. This is how Camerata Carioca was born. Baptized and propelled forward by Hermínio, the group had its first public performance in August 1979 in a beautiful show called Tributo a Jacob, that was also recorded in a studio.
BrazzilYou left Camerata Carioca not long after that.
Luciana RabelloI was part of the first formation of Camerata Carioca, the one that emerged from Os Carioquinhaswith Raphael, Mauricio, and Celsinho, plus Joel and João Pedro Borges (6-string guitar; another guitar was needed to execute Radamés' arrangements). I left for various reasons, together with my brother and Celsinho Silva. I needed to pursue my own path, and that's what I did. I worked with many singers and also as a soloist in some projects. I played in the studio recordings (and sometimes in shows) of Elizeth Cardoso, Paulinho da Viola, Francis Hime, Chico Buarque, Martinho da Vila, Baden Powell, Toquinho, Copinha, Abel Ferreira, and a dozen other artists. In 1981 and '82 I traveled to Europe on two tours of three months each. There were many proposalsin Brazil and in Europeto record a solo disc, but I accepted none. They always wanted me to record the obvious: "Brasileirinho," "Tico-Tico no Fubá," "Doce de Coco," etc. I preferred to follow another route, that years later became Acari. The record companies were interested in exploiting the fact that a woman was playing cavaquinho; they wanted to give my work an almost sensual focus. I always found this ridiculous and rejected some financially tempting offers. In 1985 I married Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, with whom I have two children, Ana and Julião.
BrazzilWhen did you begin to compose?
Luciana RabelloI was already composing at the age of thirteen but only mustered the courage to show my compositions when I was sixteen or seventeen. I gained more confidence much later. The first compositions are forgotten now.
BrazzilYou've composed a lot with Cristovão Bastos. How did your partnership begin?
Luciana RabelloI came to know Cristovão more than twenty years ago, in 1978/79. He was playing with Paulinho da Viola, and we recorded together several times. In 1979/80, we worked on a Cristina Buarque disc and then in her show with Elton Medeiros, at Teatro Clara Nunes in Rio. Cristovão didn't have a piano at home and used to arrive at the theatre very early in order to study and play. He asked that I come early too, so we could take advantage of the piano. Cristovão came to my house a lot, and we became old friends very quickly. I also didn't have a piano, and he played guitar when he came to my house. We didn't have to talk much to communicate or to play. Since then, every time he'd need a cavaquinho in his arrangements, he'd call me. He still does. Raphael, [sister] Amelia, and I lived together, and in our house, music ruled. We played and listened to music almost the whole time. We laughed a lot, all the time. I don't know why, because our financial difficulties were serious. But the atmosphere was full of life. All our friends liked to visit our house. I remember Luizão Maia, Wilson das Neves, Guinga (he came only for a while). But Cristovão was present more than the others. He didn't need to call ahead.
In '81, after Raphael married, Amelia and I moved to a smaller apartment, and he continued coming. We drank herbal tea made from boldo (a medicinal plant used to cure liver and digestive ailments) rather than alcohol (strange...). The good humor was contagious. Mostly we played. I don't know how to explain the process of music making, but it was always very easy. One only had to begin playing, and the ideas appearedsometimes his, sometimes mine. Our first composition was "Queixa Antiga," which is in the disc. Cristovão had the first part ready for years, but the second part wouldn't come. He showed me what he had, and the second part came out all at once, complete. We became excited and made more. The others were mixedall the parts were our joint work, as in a conversation. Until today it's a pleasure to play with Cristovão. It's the same syntony I have with Mauricio Carrilho and had with my brother Raphael.
Amelia and Cristovão fell in love and married in '95. Their son Miguel is our godson. They're no longer married but continue to be friends. Cristovão and I no longer have time to pass whole afternoons playing, unfortunately. But whenever we meet, the syntony reappears. If only we had more time...
BrazzilWho were the musicians who influenced you most?
Luciana RabelloIn my instrument, the chief influences were the masters Canhoto (who appointed me his successor) and Jonas Pereira da Silva, cavaquinho of Época de Ouro and Jacob do Bandolim's favorite. I spent countless hours playing along with their recordings, until I managed to play like them. We all begin by imitating those we admire, and later we trace our own path. Thank goodness, I knew how to select my models [laughs]. Even better was hearing this from Canhoto himself. He said, "Girl, you're the one who imitates me best!" Many tried to imitate Canhoto, which is to be expected with a master who created a whole school of accompaniment cavaquinho. The same thing happened (or is still happening) with Dino [Sete Cordas], Meira, Jorginho do Pandeiro, Jacob do Bandolim, and several other sacred monsters who became the reference points for their instruments. But Canhoto was not self-referential; he admired and respected cavaquinistas whose styles were different from his. In my case, he was happy to have me learn from him. Now I understand how he felt; I'm beginning to feel the same way. It's crucial to see continuity in the work to which we've dedicated our lives. Jonas blessed me in a different way: we were close friends, and he dedicated to me the delicious choro "Manga Rosa," which I recorded in my new disc.
As far as general influences go, there were many. The Brazilians include Ataulfo Alves, Geraldo Pereira, Luiz Gonzaga, Jackson do Pandeiro, Jacob do Bandolim, Pixinguinha, Noel Rosa, Tom Jobim, Francis Hime, Elizeth Cardoso, Vadico, Moacir Santos, Custódio Mesquita, Cartola, Nelson Cavaquinho, Villa-Lobos, Ernesto Nazareth, Canhoto da Paraíba, Radamés Gnattali, Paulinho da Viola, and Clementina de Jesus. Bossa nova made no impression in my life: it emerged in the late '50s, and I was born in 1961. I never liked bossa nova. To this day it says nothing to me. I prefer the sources [laughs]. Among non-Brazilians I count Astor Piazzolla, Segóvia, Gershwin, Bill Evans, Billie Holiday. Among classical composers: Chopin, Brahms, Bach.
BrazzilHow did the Acari idea emerge?
Luciana RabelloIt followed our idea of building a studio. Once it was ready, Mauricio and I, who were the major investors in the studio, wondered what we were going to do with the discs recorded there. The record companies continue to have no interest in this type of material, but we know there's a good public for choro. We decided to take a bigger step and created Acari Records.
BrazzilWhat do you think is the future of choro?
Luciana RabelloI don't think. I do.
Luciana Rabello (CD; 2000)
Acari Records AR3
Audio samples: http://www.acari.com.br/luciana_ft1.htm
01. De Bem Com a Vida (Luciana Rabello)
02. Velhos Chorões (Luciana Rabello)
03. Pitangueira (Luciana Rabello/Cristovão Bastos)
04. Morena (Cristovão Bastos)
05. No Balanço da Luciana (Avena de Castro)
06. Manga Rosa (Jonas Pereira da Silva)
07. Cá Entre Nós (Luciana Rabello/Raphael Rabello)
08. Valsa do Trovador (Luciana Rabello/Cristovão Bastos/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)
09. Flor de Sapucaia (Luciana Rabello/Cristovão Bastos)
10. Flor de Jacarandá (Luciana Rabello/Cristovão Bastos/Luis Moura)
11. Queixa Antiga (Luciana Rabello/ Cristovão Bastos/Paulo Cesar Pinheiro)
12. Beliscando o Cavaquinho (Sérgio Régis)
A veteran flutist's first album
For almost thirty years, Álvaro Carrilho's first priority was supporting his family. Only after retirement was he able to resume the flute playing of his youth. In this disc, his first, Álvaro plays his early and late compositionschoros, waltzes, and sambaswith a conjunto regional made up of Mauricio Carrilho, Luciana Rabello, Jorginho & Celsinho Silva, and João Lyra. Among the illustrious guests are brother Altamiro and his flute, clarinetist Paulo Sérgio Santos, and bandolinistas Joel Nascimento and Pedro Amorim (the latter playing pandeiro).
As composer, Carrilho adheres to the classic molds of choro, although his delightful tunes are clearly contemporary in style, with flavors varying from the lyrical to the lighthearted. In the former category, the choro "Na Sombra da Caramboleira" (In the Shade of the Carambola Tree), the waltz "Zélia," and the samba "Sem Perdão" stand out for their beauty.
We've asked Álvaro Carrilho to talk about his life. Here's his story:
Álvaro CarrilhoMy family is from Santo Antônio de Pádua, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. In provincial towns, large families like mine are common. My father was Octacilio Gonçalves Carrilho and my mother Lyra de Aquino Carrilho. They had eight children: Marina (1918), Ondina (1920), Carlos Augusto (1922), Altamiro (1924), Leda (1927), myself (1930), José Luiz (1932), and Renato (1935). My father was a dental surgeon who liked to help the needy and didn't charge these people for dental services. Sometimes he received payment in kind, like rice, beans, chickens, etc. For that reason, my mother and sisters had to augment the household income with crochet work, embroidery, and sewing. Considering these difficulties, my childhood was joyful and full of affection, but also full of restrictions when it came to expensive clothes, toys, and such. In compensation, we used our creativity in making our own toys, which were admired by the neighborhood kids.
In those days, the musical hits were presented in radio programs with the singers Orlando Silva, Carlos Galhardo, Silvio Caldas, etc., but there were also programs of instrumental music: choro, maxixe, tango, fox, polka, and waltzes. As we had no radio, which was rare, we heard the programs on our neighbor's radio. That's where I got interested in instrumental music.
In our town there was a musical band founded by my maternal grandfather, Carlos Manso de Aquino, who had such a passion for music that he named his first-born daughter Lyra. The band was called Lyra de Orion and played in the bandstand of the square where the town's families used to gather, listen, and applaud. After the death of my grandfather, the direction passed to my eldest uncle, Messias. My mother's four other brothers were also in the band: Dario played tenor sax; Homero, tuba; Rodolfo, clarinet; and Raul, trumpet. My brother Altamiro, still a boy, played a military drum in this band, from 1938 until we moved to São Gonçalo in 1941. My eldest brother Carlos was in the army then, and with the money he earned, he bought a bamboo flute for Altamiro. Later, when Altamiro was already working, he bought himself an ebony flute, and the bamboo flute was abandoned. That's when I appropriated it and began to play.
In 1943 we moved to Rio de Janeiro, living in the borough of Bonsucesso. In Rio, Altamiro worked in a pharmacy at the city center and studied music at night. Then he formed his first conjunto regional. In Bonsucesso I was already playing my little flute. Across from our house lived Wellington [Santos], who played guitar. I liked to hear him play. One day I dared take my flute over so we could play together. He liked it, and we formed a conjunto. Playing with us in this band were Baden Powell (just beginning to study guitar with Meira), Manoel da Conceição, and Paulo Nunes. We played at Rádio Guanabara in the Programa do Guri [children's program], where we accompanied the singers Claudette Soares and Helen de Lima, still girls. My first composition was in 1948, a choro that had come out of my sessions with Wellington.
In 1949 I began my military service in the Air Force in Rio, and six months later I was transferred to Barbacena, Minas Gerais. In this town I met Mr. Roldão, who played banjo, soloed very well, and had a regional. He invited me to participate in a roda de choro with the bamboo flute, and I started to play in this conjunto whenever I could. In 1950 I composed a choro that I called "Chorando em Barbacena" [recorded on the new disc]. In 1951 I completed my military service and returned to Rio. I began to work in a pharmaceutical laboratory, and there was no time left to play the flute. On 5 May 1956 I married Zélia Lana, and we lived in Copacabana. On 26 April 1957 Mauricio was born, followed by Cesar on 13 October 1958. We moved to Penha in 1965, and two years later Mauricio began to study guitar with Meira. I was no longer playing. In 1971 Altamiro invited Mauricio to play with himjust flute and guitarin a program on TV Globo. With the fee he received, Mauricio invited me to buy myself a "real flute." We bought the instrument I had been dreaming of since my childhood, but even with this great gift I had no time to practice, and the flute was kept in abeyance. In 1978 Mauricio made his first trip to Japan and brought me two presents: another flute and a piccolo, both brand new. With presents like these, I made an effort to find some free time to practice. In 1981 I retired and found more time for the flute, always egged on by Mauricio. So I began to play in bars, theatres, plazas, relatives' houses, etc.
At present, we have a group of good musicians: Índio do Cavaquinho, Valter 7 Cordas, Caçula on guitar, Valdir Mandarino on pandeiro, and I on flute. The high point of my trajectory has been the recording of this CD with my compositions and some partnerships with Altamiro, Carlinhos, Gerson Mesquita, and Wellington Santos. This recording was made under Mauricio's direction and with his help. I had a lot of encouragement from friends, Altamiro's musicians, and above all from my sons.
Álvaro Carrilho (CD; 2000)
Acari Records AR1
Audio samples: http://www.acari.com.br/alvaro2e.htm
01. Na sombra da Caramboleira (Álvaro Carrilho; 1972)
02. Brincando Com os Netos (Álvaro Carrilho/Wellington Santos;1947)
03. Tangerina (Altamiro Carrilho/Álvaro Carrilho; 1975)
04. Choro Torto (Álvaro Carrilho; 1998)
05. Chorando em Barbacena (Álvaro Carrilho;1950)
06. Sentimento Carioca (Álvaro Carrilho/Mauricio Carrilho; 1995)
07. Inaugurando (Álvaro Carrilho;1993)
08. Zélia (Álvaro Carrilho; 1998)
09. Plangentes Violões (Álvaro Carrilho/Wellington Santos;1947)
10. Marimbondo (Altamiro Carrilho/Álvaro Carrilho; 1942)
11. Ranchinho Abandonado (Álvaro Carrilho/Gerson Mesquita; 1952)
12. Sem Perdão (Álvaro Carrilho,1956)
13. Noite Festiva (Álvaro Carrilho/Altamiro Carrilho/Carlos Carrilho;1947)
A young flutist's tribute to the father of choro
In the Acari lineup, Leonardo Miranda Plays Joaquim Callado stands out both for the youth of its principal musician and for the age of the compositions, all written by Joaquim Antônio da Silva Callado Júnior (1848-1888), a remarkable flutist considered the first major choro musician and the one who gave the genre its name. All of Callado's choros cariocas were composed for flute, guitar, and cavaquinho, and this is how they are presented in this discthe first dedicated to Callado's workwith Luciana Rabello accompanying on cavaquinho, João Lyra on guitar, and Mauricio Carrilho on 7-string guitar.
At a time when the middle and upper classes of Rio de Janeiro performed European music while the lower classesprincipally black played percussive music of African origins, the mulatto Callado fused the European and the African into a uniquely Brazilian musical form. According to Leonardo Miranda, Callado's music is at the root of all that has been characterized as Brazilian music from that time until now. Most of the composer's work was lost, with just 70 scores remaining, among them Callado's only well-known composition, "Flor Amorosa" (not included in this disc).
BrazzilLeonardo, how did choro and the flute enter your life?
Leonardo MirandaDuring my childhood in the provinces, I heard very little music at home. Although I'm the grandson, great-grandson and great-great-grandson of musicians (all played wind instruments in various bands in Minas Gerais), my parents were relatively out of this scene. Brazilian music, choro, entered my life through the discovery, among my father's old records, of two discs, one of Noel Rosa, the other of Pixinguinha, both from an old series sold at newspaper stands. I still remember listening hundreds of times to Noel's "Último Desejo" with Aracy de Almeida and being enchanted with the flute that punctuated that sambaa flute I now know to have been Benedito Lacerda's. But that's not how the flute arrived in my life.
At the age of 13, I asked to be allowed to study music, and for lack of choice in the provinces, I began to study piano, to which I dedicated myself for four yearsa study interrupted when I came to Rio de Janeiro. Here, after about a year, a disc called Flauta no Choro fell into my hands. That was the definitive impact for me: I had to learn that! I bugged my parents until I got a flute, a Yamaha student's model, and I began to study with my first teacher, Décio Carrascosa, a flutist/saxophonist and specialist in Andean instruments. For a little over a year I learned from him the rudiments of the flute.
BrazzilWhere does the choro come in?
Leonardo MirandaFeeling the need for more specific apprenticeship, I changed teachers and went to study with the chorão Dirceu Leitte, who for three years taught me much of the style, in addition to putting me in contact with various musicians of the genre. Finally, I went to study at Pró-Arte, with professor Carlos Alberto Rodrigues, who gave me the technical groundwork and the discipline that were fundamental for increasing the clarity in my playing.
BrazzilHow did you become interested in Joaquim Callado?
Leonardo MirandaMy interest in Callado, and also in the other pioneers of choro, came naturally from the beginning: the old repertoire seemed to me marvelous, different, original, and inexplicably unexplored. From the beginning of my apprenticeship in choro I've tried to learn more of the style of the period and its repertoire.
BrazzilHow did the idea for the disc come about?
Leonardo MirandaThe idea of the disc also came ready-made from the beginning. Why was the work of the author of the first choro, "Flor Amorosa," unknown? I was curious and looked for as many scores and as much information about Callado as I could find. Mauricio Carrilho has encouraged me ever since he first heard me play an unknown polka by Callado. With his incentive, I went after more material, wanting to have a general vision of Callado's work. The rest is history, just listen to the disc...
Leonardo Miranda Toca Joaquim Callado (CD; 2000)
Acari Records AR2
Audio samples: http://www.acari.com.br/leonardo_ft1e.htm
All compositions by Joaquim Antônio da Silva Callado Jr.
01. Improviso (polka)
02. Conceição (polka)
03. Manuelita Suite (quadrille)
04. Rosinha (polka)
05. Último Suspiro (polka)
06. Saturnino Suite (quadrille)
07. A Sedutora (polka)
08. Puladora (polka)
09. Pagodeira Suite (quadrille)
10. Querida por Todos (polka)
11. Dengosa (polka)
12. Salomé (polka)
13. Souzinha Suite (quadrille)
14. Florinda (polka)
A conversation with Mauricio Carrilho
BrazzilThere are at least three well-known musicians in your family. How far back does this musical tradition go?
Mauricio CarrilhoI come from a family of musicians. My great-grandfather founded a band in Santo Antônio de Pádua, in the state of Rio de Janeiro. This happened at the beginning of the 20th century. In this band played five of his sons: Raul, trumpet & trombone; Rodolfo, clarinet & soprano clarinet; Dario, saxophones; Homero, tuba; and Messias, who played soprano clarinet and conducted the band for more than 60 years. My grandmother studied piano and had eight children, of whom only my uncle (Altamiro Carrilho) and my father (Álvaro Carrilho) followed the family's musical tradition and play flute.
BrazzilThere must have been a lot of music in your childhood.
Mauricio CarrilhoMy childhood was wonderful. Lots of football and lots of music. My father organized children's football teams and rodas de choro. My brother, Cesar Carrilho, is very good with the ball. He got to play with the Brazilian team at the first indoor football world championship in Budapest, Hungary. I was a rather violent defender and did better in music.
BrazzilWhat music did you hear as a child?
Mauricio CarrilhoI heard basically Brazilian music. Choro (Altamiro's discs), samba (I heard a lot of the singer Roberto Silva), some classical music, and also jazz.
BrazzilWith the flute tradition in your family, why did you choose to play the guitar?
Mauricio CarrilhoOne time, when I was four years old, I was strolling with my uncle Altamiro and stopped before a shop window that displayed a guitar. Altamiro asked me if I liked guitar, and I said yes. When I turned five, he gave me a guitar that I still cherish.
BrazzilHow old were you when you began to play, and who taught you?
Mauricio CarrilhoMy first guitar lesson was in December 1966. I was nine. My first teacher was Dino [Horondino Silva, aka Dino Sete Cordas]. I studied with him for a year. Then I went to study with Meira, whom I consider my great master. With him, in addition to learning the instrument, I was able to gain a more profound vision of the music. I received great life lessons from Meira.
BrazzilWe heard Luciana's view of Os Carioquinhas. What's yours?
Mauricio CarrilhoIn 1976, at the Sovaco de Cobra [the Cobra's Armpit]a bar in Penha that used to be a meeting point for all the chorões of Rio de JaneiroI met Raphael and Luciana Rabello. When we played together for the first time, it seemed as if we'd known each other for years. Raphael was 14, Luciana 16, and I 19. Raphael said, "I play like Dino, my sister like Canhoto, and you like Meira. We're going to form the best regional of our generation." I found that boy's prophecy very amusing, but it ended up happening. I entered Os Carioquinhas and abandoned medical school. We recorded our disc the following year, and I became a professional musician through Raphael and Luciana Rabello.
BrazzilTell us about your experiences with Camerata Carioca.
Mauricio CarrilhoThe core players of Os Carioquinhas were invited by Joel Nascimentowho was already considered at the time the most important bandolinista in Brazilto form a group and play the suite Retratos by Radamés Gnattali. The musicians were: Raphael, Luciana, Celsinho (pandeiro), and I. Joel also invited Luiz Otávio, guitarist of the group Galo Preto. Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, who heard us play informally at Radamés' birthday party, put together the show Tributo a Jacob do Bandolim. In this show I played for the first time with Radamés, on 11 August 1979, in Curitiba. After this debut tour, Hermínio baptized us Camerata Carioca. The group recorded three albums, changed formation more than once, but had an important role in creating a chamber language for the traditional formation of the regional.
BrazzilYou do a great deal of arranging and you also compose. When did you begin these activities?
Mauricio CarrilhoIn 1978 I began to work with Nara Leão. We became friends, and she surprised me with an invitation to divide the arrangements of her disc with Roberto Menescal. Menescal was an eminent arranger of the bossa nova movement, and I had never written an arrangement in my life. Nara insisted, with an unbeatable argument: "Every arranger begins by making his first arrangement one day." Her confidence finally took hold, and I started arranging.
As a composer I began earlier, at the age of five. I composed the first part of a maxixe that Altamiro completed and recorded with his small band in 1967. Later, studying with Meira, I began to compose with greater frequency, but without any pretension. When I began to work as a musician, I put aside the habit of composing, except on very rare occasions. In 1989 I met the poet Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, of whom I have long been a fan, and he demanded that I return to composing. We became partners in more than 40 songs. I owe Paulinho Pinheiro this return to composing. Now it's part of my daily life.
BrazzilWhat are your major musical influences?
Mauricio CarrilhoIn Brazilian music: Radamés, Villa-Lobos, Pixinguinha, Nazareth, Meira, Ary Barroso, and Baden Powell. I also adore Bach, Piazzolla, and Duke Ellington. At the same time, I find these lists unjust; we often forget people who were fundamental in our education. However, I can guarantee that my education is essentially linked to the music of Brazil.
BrazzilWhat kinds of music do you listen to now?
Mauricio CarrilhoChoro, samba, classical music, jazz, tango, flamenco, and other genres that are rarely found on Brazilian radio and TV.
BrazzilHow did the Acari idea begin?
Mauricio CarrilhoIt's not an idea but a necessity. Choro has been in existence for almost 140 years and never had a record company to treat it with the proper care. At some point, someone had to take the attitude we've taken. There are more than 15,000 unrecorded compositions. It was no longer possible to wait for the marketing executives of the great recording industry.
BrazzilWhat do you think is the future of choro?
Mauricio CarrilhoChoro has survived epidemics, plagues, two world wars, military coups, disregard from all Brazilian governments, and neglect by record companies. It's resisting the ravages of the dumbing-down process imposed by the globalization of cultural rubbish, and it will continue to resist everything. Its development is permanent and independent of externally imposed values. Choro has its own parameters. The person who knows it intimately isn't impressed with puerile avant-gardes and doesn't feel pressured by a supposed necessity to adapt it to the fashionable sound. Choro definitely isn't music for beginners.
In the Acari pipeline
Mauricio's compositions arranged for various formations such as banda, regional, and chamber ensemble. Instruments include clarinet, saxophone, flugelhorn, trumpet, tuba, flute, piccolo, violin, cello, cavaquinho, guitars, bass, and percussion.
plays his own compositions for tenor guitar with conjunto regional accompaniment.
Índio do Cavaquinho
plays his own compositions of traditional choro with conjunto regional accompaniment.
Canhoto da Paraíba
Home recordings of Canhoto playing his compositions at Avena de Castro's house, with Avena, Paulinho da Viola & Raphael Rabello as audience.
Quartet of Tired Malandros
Nailor Azevedo "Proveta," Pedro Amorim, Mauricio Carrilho & Jorginho do Pandeiro play choros by Mauricio and Pedro and other composers in improvised sessions.
plays his unpublished compositions with a conjunto regional made up of Mauricio Carrilho, Luciana Rabello, Jorginho & Celsinho Silva, and João Lyra.
The writer publishes the online magazine of Brazilian music and culture
Daniella Thompson on Brazil and the website Musica Brasiliensis.