"Chora Baiao," New CD by Brazilian Pianist/Composer Antonio Adolfo, Due Sept. 27


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Antonio Adolfo
Antonio Adolfo has long been an integral and influential behind-the-scenes player as a producer, composer, arranger, label entrepreneur, and educator—in his native Rio de Janeiro and beyond. In recent years, however, he has thankfully been devoting more time to recording his own music. First came a critically acclaimed collaboration with his vocalist daughter, 2007's Antonio Adolfo and Carol Saboya Ao Vivo/Live. Last year's La e Ca (Here and There), also featuring Saboya, tapped into standards by Americans and Brazilians such as Cole Porter and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

For his new CD, Chora Baiao, which will be released September 27 on his AAM Music label, Adolfo chose to focus on the Brazilian music styles choro and baiao, specifically the works of two brilliant and innovative Brazilian composers, Guinga and Chico Buarque.

“I wanted to record an album of material that forces me to play differently," Adolfo says. “My passion is for their harmonies and melodies, which are not just sophisticated, but quite unusual in Brazilian music. When you play American or Brazilian standards, you tend to stay in familiar territory. But with their harmonies you cannot use cliches. It requires you go into some really different directions."

The fact that Adolfo's original pieces ("Chicote," “Chorosa Blues," “Chora Baiao") fit so comfortably alongside the music of Guinga and Buarque shouldn't be surprising. From Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick, and Herb Alpert to Elis Regina, Beth Carvalho, and Sergio Mendes, some of the world's most popular artists have recorded his songs. His title track announces the thread of choro and baiao running through the album, drawing on both forms while opening with a bracing jolt of maracatu percussion.

“This is a different kind of music, not Jobim," Adolfo says. “Guinga is very inventive with choro and baiao. Before Guinga everyone played choro very traditionally. He uses chords like Piazzolla. He's never been played by jazz musicians, but his harmonies are very unexpected."

As for Buarque, “I wanted to show him as a musician," says Adolfo. “There's no doubt he's one of the three most important lyricists in Brazil, but he's also a composer who ranks alongside Jobim and Edu Lobo. He chooses different chords and different bass lines. You can hear in songs like 'A Ostra e o Vento' (The Oyster and the Wind) that the harmonies are very sophisticated. As a composer, as a musician who writes songs, he and Guinga do things that nobody else does in Brazilian music, with chords and melodies that are unexpected."

Produced and arranged by Adolfo, Chora Baiao features the same basic cast heard on last year's La e Ca: Uruguayan-born guitarist Leo Amuedo (a frequent collaborator with Ivan Lins), bassist Jorge Helder (often heard with Chico Buarque and Maria Bethania), drummer Rafael Barata (Edu Lobo, Rosa Passos, Monica Salmaso), and—on two tracks—vocalist Carol Saboya. The formidable Marcos Suzano (Lenine, Gilberto Gil, Zizi Possi) is added on percussion.

Besides his prolific work as a pianist, composer, and arranger, Adolfo, 64, continues to be a leader in music education. The Centro Musical Antonio Adolfo in Rio and a new experimental Brazilian music school in Hollywood, Florida, where he resides, are a big part of his current professional life.

“Nadia Boulanger and all the other teachers I had were my inspiration to become a music educator myself," says Adolfo. “My involvement in education is a result of my interest in always trying to go deeper and to deal technically with different music subjects, which has helped my own development and growth as a musician."

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