Music

A musical mission

Duo wants to convince America bossa nova is not all there is to Brazilian music

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Brazilian guitarist and composer Edinho Gerber is on a mission with his musical other half, guitarist and composer Rogério Souza, to show America that the “relaxed, laid-back vibe of bossa nova is not all there is to Brazilian music.”

“The music we perform is vivacious and exuberant," Gerber said. "People are expecting the 100-year-old compositions we play to be dusty and worn out, but quite the contrary. We want to get people excited about traditional Brazilian music and want them to feel like dancing, even if they are sitting in their chairs.”

Gerber and Souza, known as the Duo Violão Brasil Band, accompanied by percussionist Ami Molinelli, will perform Friday (Sept. 1), 7:30 p.m., in the Arthur Bell Auditorium at the Harwood Museum of Art, 238 Ledoux St.

The musicians are on one of only two short tours they do in the United States from their home base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Taos is the first of their New Mexico stops. There will be performances in Santa Fe and Albuquerque on the following two nights.

Gerber and Souza, accompanied by Molinelli, will perform a special evening of Brazilian traditional music known as “choro,” featuring compositions of Baden Powell, Pixinguinha, Radamés Gnattali and originals by Souza. Choro is an instrumental Brazilian popular music genre that originated in Brazil in the 19th century. It is characterized by “virtuosity, improvisation and subtle modulations, and it is full of syncopation and counterpoint.” Gerber says it has similarities to American ragtime with European, African, early jazz and indigenous rhythms.

Gerber and Souza met through mutual friends four years ago in Chicago, Illinois, where the two performed on the same night in different venues. “We had many mutual musician friends in common,” Gerber said, “and Rogério is from my hometown. We met later for dinner and started playing together in Brazil.”

A master of both six- and seven-string guitars, Souza regularly produces and performs in concerts and events that showcase traditional Brazilian music, especially samba and choro. In addition to performances, Souza gives master classes and workshops that focus on guitar styles and cover material from his books and CDs.

Gerber says his musical vocabulary developed between the United States and Brazil, where he grew up. He describes his style as an eclectic fusion of the musical genres of choro, jazz, samba and blues. He said he is always in search of “the intersection points within his dual cultural identity.” Gerber had been a working musician in the Chicago music scene and played with multiple U.S.-based Brazilian groups, including Som Brasil, Renato Anesi Trio and A Cor do Brasil. He led Zona Sul, a samba jazz group. When not on tour, he resides in Rio de Janeiro, where he performs regularly with Duo Violão Brasil and is currently recording his debut solo album, a cross-cultural collaboration with Chicago musician and composer Ben Lamar.

The duo (plus Molinelli) will perform compositions written by the father of choro and Brazilian piano, Ernesto Nazareth. Gerber says his piano works lend themselves especially well to two guitars. “We perform his ‘maxixes,’ ‘valsas’ and ‘polcas’ – ‘Escorregando,’ ‘Brejeiro,’ ‘Odeon’ and ‘Pássaros em Festa,’” Gerber said. “You can find much of this repertoire on Souza’s CD, ‘Brasil Choro - Ernesto Nazareth’ with Leo Lucini and Andy Connell.”

In addition to selections from composer Nazareth, the duo will play selections from composer, saxophonist and flautist Alfredo da Rocha Viana Jr., known as Pixinguinha, “the patron saint of choro.” He is considered one of the greatest Brazilian musicians and composers. The duo will perform classics, such as “Lamentos,” “Os Oito Batutas” and “Devagar e Sempre.”

San Francisco, California, percussionist Molinelli is married to drummer Lorca Hart, who grew up in Taos and plays every year in the Taos Jazz Festival. She said she remembers visiting Taos with Hart a few years ago and marveling at how many people greeted him on the street and what a friendly town Taos is.

She started playing with Duo Violão two years ago after meeting Souza at an annual Brazilian music camp in the Russian River Valley of California. She will be playing a pandeiro, a type of hand-frame drum popular in Brazil. “I’ve seen from many audiences’ responses to us that it’s the greatest music they’ve never heard of,” she said. “The music repertoire of the evening will span 150 years and provide a wealth of information about the history of Brazilian music.”

Molinelli said she is “counting the days until she can get some New Mexican green chile.”

Tickets are $15, $12 for museum members. For more information, call (575) 758-9826 or visit harwoodmuseum.org.

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