Pixinguinha (1898-1973) revolutionized the music in Brazil in different aspects: as a composer, arranger and instrumentalist. His fame as a flutist grew thanks to the improvisations that had a big impact on audiences. He wrote his first choros, polkas, maxixes and waltzes in the 1910s, founding his own group, Grupo do Pixinguinha, which later became the prestigious Os Oito Batutas. The groups led by Pixinguinha were very important for the music industry in Brazil. The Orquestra Típica Pixinguinha-Donga participated in various recording sessions in a time when the electric system was a big novelty. He was also the leader of the groups Diabos do Céu, Guarda Velha and Orquestra Columbia de Pixinguinha. He became an arranger at the label Victor in 1929, incorporating Brazilian elements into the traditonal ways of writing arrangements.In the 30s and 40s, he recorded as a flutist and as a saxophonist many pieces that would become the basis of the choro repertoire, for soloist and bands. - During research at the National Library in Rio de Janeiro, Henrique Cazes - choro historian, musician, producer a.o. - found manuscripts including scores of arrangenments for orchestra by Pixinguinha of several of his famous compositions, carefully handwritten by Pixinguinha himself in the late 1940s. Henrique Cazes decided to use Pixinguinha's own arrangements and recreate the sound of a larger ensemble including brass and reed instruments in an contemporary orchestra setting, which resulted in the formation of the Orquestra Brasilia. The Orquestra Brasilia was directed by Henrique Cazes and recorded a cd for the Kuarup label in 1988 (KCD 035), shown below
The cd has twelve pieces by Pixinguinha very well performed by the Orquestra Brasilia, for further info on the recorded music and participating musicians, click here. - To give you an impression of the recorded music, I insert a couple of uploaded audio tracks from YouTube, here is first "Cheguei" as played by Orquestra Brasilia
The next video has the audio of "Naquele Tempo "
The Orquestra Brasilia later changed its name to Orquestra Pixinguinha and has recorded two more cds since the first release mentioned above, the orchestra is still active and performs from time to time at special live concerts. A photo of current members is shown below.
Choro performed by larger ensembles may not be the usual setting today, however, the Escola Portátil de Música in Rio de Janeiro does a great job to keep the tradion alive. In 2009 a cd was released by Acari Records containing 12 new arrangements of choro for big band covering compositions by Ernesto Nazareth, Radamés Gnattali, Mauricio Carrilho and Cristóvão Bastos played by two ensembles of professors and students at the Escola Portátil de Música, Furiosa & Camerata Portátil.
For further info on the contained music and participating musicians, have a look at Discos do Brasil, click here - The Escola Portátil de Música was founded by Maurício Carrilho, Luciana Rabello and Pedro Aragão in 2000, in 2011 the organisation won the Prêmio de Cultura from the state of Rio de Janeiro aknowleding the work being done to educate musicians in performing choro in various settings. During the past years the semesters at the Escola Portátil de Música have ended with a choro festival including concerts by various ensembles, also larger groups performing choro and related music in a big band setting. To end this, I insert a couple of videos showing examples of big band performing at the choro festival of Escola Portátil de Música. - Last year was "Gaucho"(Corta Iaca) by Chiquinha Gonzaga performed by a larger ensemble
Another example from last year, "De Urca Pra Pão de Açúcar" (by Amadeu Taborba) - enjoy