Brazilian music 1a: more choro

In my last post in this series, I discussed chorinho, and reader Chameli posted a wonderful long comment in Portuguese, with a hall of fame of choristas.  It’s full of interesting information; I don’t have time to translate it now 🙁 (I will try to get around to it and add it as a post) , but having figured out how to link to Spotify,  I’m going to pick out some of her suggestions and add a few links here:
Adoniran Barbosa, Trem das Onze  [some of these links go to the invaluable site,, which posts lyrics, often with a video of a good performance of the song. The lyrics of Brazilian popular music are generally exceptionally good: poetry full of imagery, wit, and often with real bite.  If you only know Gene Lees’ English lyrics for bossa novas, you are missing a lot]:  Here, a man explains that he can’t stay with his lover any longer or he will miss his train at 11 PM and his mother will lie awake worrying.  This song extracts a lot of poignancy from a banal situation. Barbosa’s gruff cigarette-roughened voice reminds me of Paolo Conte.
Chiquinha Gonzaga, Tupan:  The first woman to lead an orchestra in Brazil, born in 1847 and lived until 1935.  In addition to choros, she wrote piano music like the one I linked to, that echo ragtime’s syncopated but very formalized escape from European forms. Early in the last century, Brazilian composers wrote in a variety of forms, including tangos, waltzes, maxixes, and more.
Ernesto Nazareth, Odeon   Nazareth was a formally trained musician whose works were published as fully developed piano scores.  Odeon commemorates his job as the pianist at the Odeon silent movie theater.
Zequinha de Abreu, Tico-tico No Fubá  Here performed by Carmen Miranda, a controversial figure on the Brazil-US musical bridge, who acquired a largely unfair reputation for exploiting and exoticizing Brazil for the gringos.  The lyrics lightly address a bird eating the singer’s cornmeal, and have nothing to do with the silly English lyrics with which the song was an Andrews Sisters hit.  It lives as a virtuoso display piece for instrumentalists.
Waldir Azevedo Ve Se Gostas  As the title says, see if you like it.  Azevedo was a multiinstrumentalist most famous as a virtuoso of the cavaquinho, an instrument that you would expect to have only 33% more potential than a tres cubano, but like the pandeiro I mentioned in the previous post, in the right hands it can be astonishing.
Altamiro Carrilho, Aeroporto do Galeão  The late (d. 2012) Carrilho was a giant of Brazilian music over almost a century, as composer and a virtuoso flautist (cf. Robison).
Paulinho da Viola, a composer and performer in a class by himself, will probably get a whole post  as he is more noted for samba than choro.
Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim (composers and performers) are so widely recorded you will have no trouble finding hours of listening.  For something different, listen to Jacob comping the great Elizete Cardoso
Oh, little shack/hanging on the hillside
and begging for help/from the city at your feet
I hear your voice/and haven’t forgotten you for a minute
Because I am what you are
Sheet-metal shack/tradition of my country
Sheet-metal shack/poor unhappy thing
Compare this song, which doesn’t have a false note or a hint of sentimentality, to this American equivalent  and this one . Now  I have to mention Harry Gibson’s delicious sendup of the latter, which I recommended to Mark as the anthem of his Washington State marijuana legalization consulting project; I guess we’ll save it until we get a gig in Hawaii.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.