Dec 07 2005

Modern Traditions Ensemble: New Old Music

Old and New


New Old Music

Released in Brazil in 2004, the Grupo Moderna Tradição album is now being released in the foreign market thanks to Adventure Music. The group is appropriately called the Modern Traditions Ensemble, a literal translation of the original name, and the music performed here covers classic renditions and lesser known pieces from masters of choro music in Brazil: Pixinguinha, K-Ximbinho, Jacob do Bandolim, Garoto and Ernesto Nazareth. Since its first performance in 2000, the five-member Modern Traditions Ensemble has been capturing the attention of the public and critics. One reason for that is the meticulous repertoire choice the ensemble performs. They pick well known gems and mix them with other compositions not often heard or recorded. Thus, the CD title, New Old Music, is so perfect. Here we have the classic “Lamentos” being performed along with “Gotas de Ouro,” a beautiful Nazareth composition. Another “new” aspect of the ensemble is the use of piano very extensively. Most traditional choro groups, e.g., Nó em Pingo D’Água and Rabo de Lagartixa, might have a guest pianist. Here the piano is just as essential as the mandolin.

Modern Traditions EnsembleThe idea for the ensemble came from pianist Benjamin Taubkin. Taubkin has released successful solo albums and toured with Mônica Salmaso, but he is probably better known for his involvement with the remarkable Orquestra Popular de Câmara and more recently with his participation in Jobim Sinfônico. On mandolin, Isaías Bueno de Almeida brings his lifelong expertise to this new ensemble. Almeida happens to be the leader of São Paulo’s oldest choro group, Isaías e Seus Chorões. His brother and also in that group, Israel Almeida plays 7-string guitar. He is a guitar virtuoso both in popular and classical music. Completing this perfect combination, Nailor Proveta Azevedo (saxophone and clarinet), leader of the Banda Mantiqueira, is joined by Guello (percussion). Proveta has quickly made his name well known in the Brazilian music scene and has performed with some of the top names in Brazilian music. The same is true for Guello, who has also become a household name and has recorded with artists such as Zizi Possi, Chico César and Joyce. In addition to these five members, we also have special guest Teco Cardoso on baritone sax in “Coxixando.”

Opening with “Proezas de Solon,” the album starts like most choro albums with an energetic piece. Soon, however, we hear Taubkin’s piano accompaniment setting a different and new tone to that choro and subsequent pieces. The melancholic and touching “Vibrações” features Proveta’s crying clarinet in a smooth performance highlighted by Israel’s 7-string guitar. Then Isaías’s mandolin takes over and is backed beautifully by Taubkin’s subtle accompaniment. “Vibrações” is one of those Jacob do Bandolim’s classics not often heard. What a beautiful piece it is! Also similarly outstanding is another Jacob piece, “Pérolas.” Taubkin is the main performer with a magnificent introduction that also brings in Proveta’s heartwarming solo. It is no wonder that Jacob do Bandolim is adored by choro fans and performers worldwide. He wrote choros like no other composer. Modern Traditions honors Jacob do Bandolim with exceptional performances. Another giant of choro, Ernesto Nazareth, is featured in this album with the peaceful “Gotas de Ouro.” The soft notes we hear in the introduction do make you think of golden drops, and the rest of the arrangement will carry on the melodic richness of this beautiful waltz. From this point on, just as choro gets better with time, so does New Old Music. Pixinguinha’s “Coxixando” and “Lamentos” get a royal treatment from these guys. It’s choro like you’ve never heard before. The blending of these extraordinary performers is a joy to savor in this album.

You can hear sound samples here.



Modern Traditions Ensemble
New Old Music 
Adventure Music AM1018 2 (2005)
Time: 53’55”


  1. Proezas de Solon (Pixinguinha)
  2. Vibrações (Jacob do Bandolim)
  3. Sonoroso (K-Ximbinho)
  4. Pérolas (Jacob do Bandolim)
  5. Lamentos do Morro (Garoto)
  6. Gotas de Ouro (Ernesto Nazareth)
  7. Coxixando (Pixinguinha)
  8. Lamentos (Pixinguinha)
  9. Cheguei (Pixinguinha)