One of the most authentic forms of Brazilian music, choro has been honored at home and abroad. Many names have carried the choro tradition through the ages. Traditionally performed on mandolin, choro requires two essential elements: soul and dexterity. Waldir Azevedo, Jacob do Bandolim, Joel do Nascimento and more recently Hamilton de Holanda have been linked as prime examples of choro performers. Perhaps the greatest honor, though, falls on Jacob do Bandolim (1918 – 1969), considered by many the master of the mandolin.
Nowadays, Danilo Brito (São Paulo, 1985) is getting plenty of attention and accolades, including the honor to be thought of as an heir to Jacob do Bandolim’s style. Sergio Prata, director of the Jacob do Bandolim Institute said that “Danilo is faithful to the tradition but he is a 21st century mandolinist.” Let’s take a look at Danilo Brito’s background.
One of five children, Danilo Brito has his origins in the northeast of Brazil. His father is from Paraíba, and his mother is from Bahia. The connection to the mandolin (bandolim, in Portuguese) is an interesting story. Danilo’s father was given a cavaquinho at age 11 by his grandmother. Although the family did not even own a radio, the father created his own tuning for his instrument and played it as he wished. When Danilo was only 3 years old, he took his father’s mandolin and started playing it. The biggest surprise came at age 5, when the young Danilo played a sequence of Waldir Azevedo’s “Delicado,” which he had learned on his own. From that point on, whether playing the cavaquinho or mandolin, Danilo Brito began following the steps of the great choro players Waldir Azevedo and Jacob do Bandolim. When Danilo was 11, he lived on the family farm in Paraíba. That northeast country living did have a significant influence in Danilo’s music. There are clear accents of northeastern music and style in his compositions. After returning to São Paulo, Danilo started playing in various “rodas de choro” (choro groups). In 1998 (at age 13) he released his first album, Moleque Atrevido. That album featured music by Chiquinha Gonzaga, Jacob do Bandolim, Waldir Azevedo and others. Clearly, his career was moving very fast. In 2004 (age 19) he won the 7th Annual Visa Awards for best instrumentalist. With that came his second CD, Perambulando. Following the Visa award and second CD came several concerts, including a performance in Spain. In 2008, the third CD, Sem Restrições, was released with original compositions in a quintet setting. His fourth recording, 50 Anos de Música – Luizinho 7 Cordas, was a homage to the great 7-string guitar player Luizinho 7 Cordas. And now, his latest release, Danilo Brito, was released in 2014.
Produced by Maria Silvia T. Braga and Danilo Brito, and released on Daniel’s own label, Orpheu Music, this new release features all compositions by Danilo Brito himself. In the best choro fashion, he plays the mandolin and tenor guitar and is accompanied by Carlos Moura (7-string guitar), Wesley Vasconcelos (guitar), Lucas Arantes (cavaquinho), Roberto Figuerôa (pandeiro) and guests on two tracks, Aragão (afoxé) and André Mehmari (piano). The music is very lively, as in the opener “Sobrou Meio” and “Pega Ratão,” for example, and displays how hard choro music can be and how accomplished Danilo Brito is playing these complex and energizing melodies. He is at ease on the mandolin and exhibits superb proficiency on the instrument. Even when playing waltzes, such as “Maria Silvia” and “Valsa Vermelha,” Danilo excels in his craft. It is a joy to listen to these polished compositions and performances highlighting how much alive traditional choro music is. For the closing number, “Madrigal Merencório,” André Mehmari joins forces with Danilo Brito. The track is of amazing beauty and brilliance. Piano and mandolin exchange chords and notes in a cascade of sounds and grace.
Whether you agree or not that Danilo Brito is heir apparent to Jacob do Bandolim is irrelevant once you hear his music. Perhaps to sum up the music in the album, it’s best to quote Danilo Brito himself when he was accepting his Visa Award a few years ago. The great guitarist Chico Pinheiro presented Danilo Brito the award and heard these words: “I promise to take good care of our Brazilian music.” Danilo Brito is doing his part and actually going beyond that. His music and latest album is impressive, to say the least! You can learn more about the artist by visiting Danilo Brito on the web.
Enjoy this video performance featuring Danilo Brito playing his “Pega Ratão.” Watch his expression and how effortless he makes it seem. Amazing!
Orpheu Music (2014)
Tracks (all music by Danilo Brito):
- Sobrou Meio
- Maria Silvia
- Pega Ratão
- Valsa Vermelha
- Foi Ontem – w/ Aragão
- Madrigal Merencório – w/ André Mehmari