You don’t have to fully immerse in knowledge of the vibrant, sensual, polyrhythmic treasures of the Historia Do Choro to appreciate this culturally and historically expansive (1872-present) tribute to this significant, world fusion driven art form by master Brazilian guitarists Rogerio Souza and Edinho Gerber and American percussionist Ami Molinelli, aka Duo Violao +1.
Yet their 12 sensually exotic, sometimes subtle, often percussively explosive selections, combined with Prof. Bryan McCann’s (Georgetown U) intoxicating liner notes will no doubt prompt you to investigate further. Choro (which ironically means “cry” or “lament”) is an instrumental Brazilian popular music genre that originated in the 19th century, characterized by brisk, happy rhythms, melodic and harmonic virtuosity, improvisation and rich with syncopation and counterpoint. Just like ragtime in the U.S., tango in Argentina and habanera in Cuba, choro sprang up as a result of influences of musical styles and rhythms coming from Europe and Africa.
While the trio artfully creates a sweeping look at the history and evolution of choro, McCann suggests we start in slowly by listening to the opening and closing tracks to get a snapshot of its 150-year evolution. Bright, fluid and romantic,, “Ali Baba,” penned in 1872 is tango-habanera, based on the rhythmic cell that came out of Havana late in the 19th century.
The final track, “Choro em Niteroi,” was composed early in our current century by Souza and his nephew Tiago Souza; it’s an original choro-samba, representing the ultimate South American hybrid. The history lesson is fascinating, but it’s the music you’ll find endlessly compelling long after you’ve stopped going down the historical rabbit hole.