Dating back to the 1870’s, choro is Brazil’s most enduring and lively musical genre. It is the heart and soul of Brazilian music. A dynamic quintet, Rabo de Lagartixa is made up of Daniela Spielmann (saxes), Alessandro Valente (cavaquinho), Marcello Gonçalves (7-string guitar), Alexandre Brasil (electric and acoustic bass), and Beto Cazes (percussion). Their 2000 release is an infectious neo-choro album of original compositions and Brazilian classics by giants Jacob do Bandolim, Waldir Azevedo, and Heitor Villa-Lobos among others. Avoiding the usual single soloist approach, the group’s trademark is one with all instruments sharing equal importance in the vibrant music they play. Their sassy arrangements reveal electrifying tunes. Easily one the front runners of the neo-choro movement, Rabo de Lagartixa brings Brazil’s living legend Elza Soares (she represented Brazil in London’s BBC Millennium concerts in 2000) as a guest vocalist in Baden Powell and Vinícius de Moraes’ “Formosa.” Her effervescent singing and the ensemble’s jaw-breaking accompaniment are nothing short of outstanding. Other guests include João Lyra, Eduardo Neves, and Pedro Luís e a Parede in the ambiguously hilarious “Carrapato.” Closing the album, Spielmann performs a dazzling solo in Jacob do Bandolim’s snappy “Diabinho Maluco.” As with the previous tracks, this number will leave you breathless. Choro is energetic music, and Rabo de Lagartixa is its essence.
You can hear samples of Quebra-Queixo here.
Rabo de Lagartixa
Malandro MAL 71014 (2000)
Total time: 45’33”
- Quebra-Queixo (Caio Cezar)
- Paranoá (Marco Pereira)
- Formosa (Baden Powell – Vinícius de Moraes) – w/ Elza Soares
- Melodia Sentimental (Heitor Villa-Lobos – Dora Vasconcelos)
- Brincadeiras de Quintal (Bilinho Teixeira)
- Choro Miúdo (Bozó)
- Pagode Jazz Sardinha’s Club (Eduardo Neves – Rodrigo Lessa)
- Joãozinho na Gafieira (Luís Filipe de Lima)
- Que Graça! (Alessandro Valente)
- Arrasta-Pé (Waldir Azevedo)
- Alegre Menina (Dori Caymmi)
- Carrapato (João Lyra – Paulo César Pinheiro) – w/ Pedro Luís e a Parede
- Diabinho Maluco (Jacob do Bandolim)
A shorter version of this review appeared in the November 2000 issue of JazzTimes.