Why some albums take so long to be released is something we will probably never know for sure. Recorded live at the Carlos Gomes Theater in Rio de Janeiro in 1996, Pixinguinha was only released in Brazil a year later. Then in 1998 Blue Jackel (BJAC 5019-2) had the worldwide release of this magnificent recording for everyone’s enjoyment. The album went on to win a Latin Grammy in its first award ceremony.
Pixinguinha won Brazil’s Prêmio Sharp for Best Instrumental CD and Best Instrumental Group in 1997. The CD presents 16 tracks of classic choro music by one of Brazil’s most important composers of all time, Alfredo da Rocha Viana Júnior, better known as Pixinguinha. Born in 1897, Pixinguinha got that nickname from his grandmother. One of 14 brothers and sisters, he began playing cavaquinho at the early age of 11. It was also between 11 and 12 years of age when he composed his first choro, “Lata de Leite.” However, it was not until he was 15 years old that he began to play professionally. In the original group Os Batutas, Pixinguinha played the flute. Later on, he would change the flute for the tenor sax.
Named after the original group created by Pixinguinha, Os Batutas in this recording is composed of Brazil’s most respected choro players. The photo on the side shows the group, from left to right: Marçal (percussion), Joel do Nascimento (bandolim), Zé da Velha (trombone), Jorge Simas (guitar), Paulo Moura (winds), Jorginho (pandeiro), Márcio (cavaquinho) and Jovi (percussion). Arranging all music and playing saxophones and the clarinet, Paulo Moura heads this superlative ensemble.
As for the music in Pixinguinha, over 60 minutes of authentic choro and samba are performed for generations to come. Historically credited as the first samba ever recorded in Brazilian music, Donga and Mário de Almeida’s “Pelo Telefone” could not be omitted from this collection. Donga himself was one of the original members of Pixinguinha’s Os Batutas group. Arguably the most well known of Pixinguinha’s songs, “Carinhoso” makes the audience sigh when Zé da Velha plays its first notes. “Carinhoso” has an interesting story behind it. When Pixinguinha composed it, no one was interested in recording it. Everybody wanted to record the waltz “Rosa,” also majestically performed here in a moving solo by Joel do Nascimento. Hearing Nascimento’s bandolim, one can easily understand why this type of music is called choro (choro is Portuguese for weeping). After several tries, Pixinguinha finally found a “new” singer who would record “Carinhoso” with the bonus track “Rosa.” That new singer was none other than one of Brazil’s most famous voices, the late Orlando Silva.
Other great songs parade in this must-have collection: “Ingênuo,” “Lamentos,” “Oito Batutas,” “Naquele Tempo” and more. When you reach the end of this historic recording, the electrifying choros “Um a Zero” and “Urubu Malandro” will prove why Brazil’s great musical genre choro fascinates audiences throughout the world. The music is infectious, and when played by Paulo Moura and Os Batutas, it cannot get any better.
You can hear samples of this recording at Blue Jackel’s web site.
Paulo Moura & Os Batutas
Velas 11-V195 (1997)
- Ainda Me Recordo (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Segura Ele (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Proezas de Solon (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Cochichando (João de Barro – Alberto Ribeiro – Pixinguinha)
- Ingênuo (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Lamentos (Pixinguinha – Vinícius de Morais)
- Carinhoso (Pixinguiha – João de Barro)
- Mistura e Manda (Nelson Ferreira)
- Batuque na Cozinha (João da Bahiana)
- Oito Batutas (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Pelo Telefone (Donga – Mauro de Almeida)
- Rosa (Pixinguinha)
- Naquele Tempo (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Vou Vivendo (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Um A Zero (Pixinguinha – Benedito Lacerda)
- Urubu Malandro (João de Barro – Louro)
A modified version of this review first appeared in Luna Kafé, October 1998.