I've traveled the world documenting music, but sometimes a chance meeting in my home town of New York City yields treasures. A couple of weeks ago, I was at the club Le Poisson Rouge and I bumped into an earnest young man who said he worked with some really great Brazilian musicians who were coming to town... and did I want to maybe do a shoot? When he said they played choro music, I figured it was worth checking out. Choro is a kind of urban folk music that grew out of a merging of European and Brazilian sensibilities, and it calls on the player to be agile, inventive and swinging. The emphasis on improvisation makes people compare it to jazz, but if one is going to do that, let's specify that it's a lot more Django than Miles. It's accessible music in every way.
The choro was being performed at The Living Room, on the lower east side of Manhattan, a cozy club with two performance spaces. Dudu Maia and Douglas Lora were warming up when I met them. Lora is a classically trained guitarist, who plays a seven string axe, and Maia also plays an altered instrument, a mandolin (called bandolim, in Brazil) with ten strings, as opposed to the usual eight. Both are well respected musicians back home, and part of their tour consisted of choro workshops. They are also part of a full-out band called Caraivana, but on this tour they were a duo.
The concert was well attended; people just seemed to drift in until the room was full. It was a great way to spend an evening, in a comfortable, intimate space enjoying excellent musicians at work. It's what I love about New York; yes, the big, well known places may get the big, well known acts, but that doesn't mean they are better. There are places like the Living Room presenting solid musicians without great fanfare; you just have to make it your business to find out about it. Maia and Lora turned in a stellar set, and at some point they will probably play venues where you have to fork over the big bucks -- but that night, it was just about the music.
For more information about Caraivana, Dudu and Douglas, contact Eric Shenkman at email@example.com
Brazilliance Part 2 will cover a performance by the exquisite singer Veronica Ferriani accompanied by Douglas Lora.
For more of Michal's original world music videos, go to http://inter-muse.com