On Saturday night, July 22, Stanford turned into a microcosm of Rio de Janeiro, as the upbeat Brazilian music of Anat Cohen & Choro Aventuroso filled Dinkelspiel Auditorium.
For Brazilian jazz beginners like myself, KCSM radio host Alisa Clancy’s introduction to choros was very helpful in understanding the music’s context. (Though I don’t think the man correcting Clancy throughout her talk could say the same.) Although she had played a few snippets of choros from other artists, these fragments did not prepare me at all for what was about to come.
Cohen’s bright pink shirt was not the only reason she was constantly in the spotlight. Her skill with the clarinet was evident from the first note she played. Every note that came out of her clarinet was breathtakingly clear, enveloping the audience in its smoothness. The amount of passion that she put into these choros made it seem as though she was from Rio, although she’s the only one from her quartet from Israel.
If there’s one word to describe this group, it’s ‘passionate’. It was clear that all eyes were on Sergio Krakowski moving along with his hand beating his pandeiro, a Brazilian tambourine. The concentration on his face was clear as he closed his eyes and listened to each tap of the instrument, his body grooving along. But he didn’t seem to be concentrating on making an effort to play the tambourine. Rather, he seemed to be intently listening, feeling the music and the vibrations of the instrument.
Vitor Gonçalves on accordion and piano showed clear appreciation of the music as his fingers flew across the keys. While Cohen, Gonçalves and Krakowski outwardly expressed their passion for the upbeat choros through body movements, 7-string guitarist Cesar Garabini was the exact opposite: silently strumming, only his swift fingers dancing along the strings. Yet you could see he was enjoying the music by the occasional squint and smile he gave to the rest of his bandmates and the audience.
Although many of the choros consisted of repetition, each verse was made different with slight tweaks and different instruments coming in. Rather than the instruments seeming to clash with one another, each seemed to build the other up until they both came to a harmony. Cohen and Gonçalves’ frequent harmony of a fast paced buildup growing higher and higher in “Codfish Spine,” which never ceased to amaze the crowd. The escalation of notes had the audience dancing along to the music. The man sitting next to me drummed his hands in enthusiasm along his leg, while the rest of my row bobbed their heads Yet while these upbeat melodies were highly catchy and set the mood of the auditorium, what I really appreciated were the low notes of the 7-string guitar that balanced out the high pitched sounds of the clarinet and accordion.
My limited knowledge of jazz was based off of a quote from Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land”. As Sebastian was explaining jazz to Mia, he told her that jazz was “conflict and compromise”. As the camera cuts from musician to musician, Sebastian continued to explain that each artist was fighting for the spotlight. But what I saw on stage that night was not four musicians haggling for a solo, but four individuals sharing and listening to each other’s music. As in the song “Tenderness”, the rest of the quartet sat back and enjoyed the melancholy tunes of Gonçalves’ accordion. Cohen’s cry of appreciation often rung out as the others played their solos. The way that the musicians acted on stage truly showed their commitment to the original culture of choros: a group of people sharing music with each other.
Anat Cohen & Choro Aventuroso aspire to show that it’s not just about how you play music, it’s about how you present it too. The amount of appreciation and respect you give something really shows in what you do. “La La Land” may have been wrong about jazz, but it was right about one thing: “People love what other people are passionate about.”
Contact Michelle Wong at mishylena ‘at’ gmail.com.
Correction: In an earlier version of the story, The Daily incorrectly stated that the concert was on Sunday when the concert actually occurred on Saturday. Also, Cohen is from Israel and not Brazil. The Daily regrets these errors.