What to think of an orchestra that consists of six bassists? One might expect a thick paste of low sounds, freaking around with fast notes and a technical show-off. But none of this is true on this album by the Caçarola Orquestra de Baixos. The small orchestra from Curitiba, founded in 2006, houses the talents of bassists Ariadne Melchioretto, Bruna Buschle, Renata Cáceres, Fernando Schubert, Gustavo Slomp and Flávio Lira (who also did most of the arrangements). The musicians were inspired by an orchestra of double basses from France, L’Orchestre de Contrabasses. They give their audience an interesting look into the world of double basses. It was an idea that caught the attention of a group of bassists in Brazil’s wonder of urban planning, the city of Curitiba (capital of the state Paraná). They decided to form a sextet of bassists and called it the Caçarola Orquestra de Baixos. They use all sorts of basses, both acoustic and electric. Rather than showing the technical possibilities on the instruments, the band prefers to show the creative possibilities of the basses. And that’s exactly the attitude that makes this album a most enjoyable one. Well thought choices of instruments form the foundation on which the music is built up. Sometimes it’s almost classical, then jazzy or nasty and funky. It’s understandable that people might be prejudiced by fear to listen to “all those basses.” But there’s a very smart solution offered to achieve more listening comfort. In the accompanying booklet the line-up of each track is mentioned along with the role of the instrument in the music. It makes it easier to listen if you have that information; you know what kind of instrument is used and how it is played. The special performances on the instrument get an extra dimension that way; you automatically “discover” everything that’s mentioned.
Jobim’s “Samba do Avião” is chosen to open the album and to explain how the orchestra works. A fretless and a six-string bass play the familiar theme in a splendid way, an acoustic bass fills in some additional accents and then there are instruments used as percussion instruments (tapping “tamborim” and five-string “surdo”). The bassists play with the theme and give a short demonstration of what they’re all about. Each following track tells something more about the bass in a pleasant way.
A few surprises in the repertoire show the general interest in music of the bassists. There’s a swinging rendition of “Billie’s Bounce,” the tune that Charlie Parker wrote and recorded in 1945. The track features great soloing (by guest bassist Glauco Sölter) and a remarkable use of brushes of an acoustic bass. “Baião de Lacan” shows another example of a smart use of percussion on the instruments. Guest bassist Thiago Espírito Santo plays an amazing solo accompanied by the “percussion” and an acoustic bass which forces up the soloist by strokes with the bow. Marvelous! “Montreux” by Hermeto Pascoal is performed in a duo setting with Flávio Lira playing broken chords on the 6-string bass and a beautiful free role for Renata Cáceres on the acoustic bass, mainly using the bow. Hermeto will love this rendition! The song has a natural flow into the next one, “Herói e Campeão,” which starts really ceremoniously. The orchestra invited Tibô Delor from L’Orchestre de Contrabasses to perform acoustic bass on two tracks (“Na Cadência do Samba” and the almost classical sounding “Descendo a Serra”). It’s a nice tribute to their source of inspiration. However, the Caçarola Orquestra de Baixos has its own face and attitude, an attitude that will please many music fans, not only bass-freaks. Thanks to the clever and original use of the instruments, the music never stops to surprise! The albums ends masterly in style with a beautiful fuga that gets a jazzy touch in the second part of the composition.
More information about the orchestra and the cd can be found on their beautiful bilingual (Portuguese and English) website.
Caçarola Orquestra de Baixos
Caçarola Orquestra de Baixos
- Samba do Avião (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
- La Mochila (Flávio Lira)
- Baião de Lacan (Guinga / Aldir Blanc)
- Na Cadência do Samba (Ataulfo Alves)
- Billie’s Bounce (Charlie Parker)
- Bragança nº 5 (Bruna Buschle)
- Inútil Paisagem (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Aloysio de Oliveira)
- Baião Inacabado (Fernando Schubert)
- Montreux (Hermeto Pascoal)
- Herói e Campeão (L. V. Beethoven / Hermeto Pascoal)
- Colocando Tudo Abaixo (Flávio Lira)
- Sol no Frio (Flávio Lira)
- Descendo a Serra (Pixinguinha / Benedito Lacerda)
- Fuga Baixística (Flávio Lira)