Tuesday nights in October, 2018 in the SESC Arena on Salvador’s Largo do Pelourinho (entrance to the right as one moves down the hill)…
This is music for the most part based in choro (cry, literally), a style which coalesced in Rio de Janeiro in the last half of the 19th century.
Choro was and is erudite music meant for both dancing and listening, like early New Orleans jazz. It’s always been played by highly competent musicians and incorporates a lot of improvisation.
These guys take choro into way new territory, and it really is beautiful. They incorporate the congas and atabaques of Luizinho do Gêge, percussionist in the candomblé house of Bogum. And the guitarra baiana of Alexandre Vargas (the guitarra baiana was invented in Salvador for use on the trio elétricos of Carnival; it looks like a tiny electric guitar). One of their splendid fusions is the song Brejeiro by Ernesto Nazaré — a choro classic — played in the style of the samba chula of the Bahian Recôncavo (where guitar player Alex Mesquita is from, and where clarinet player Juvino Filho studied at the University of the Recôncavo in Cachoeira). It hangs in the air like magic!
For these occasions the group is joined by Cesário Leony, who plays with everybody famous around here and has won fame with his work atop the trio elétricos of Carnival. Here he plumbs depths in other directions.
Now, the arena is just that, a shallow arena with concrete steps which serve as seats. And not a lot of people know about these performances and I’m not so sure that a lot of people would go even if they did. When I want last Tuesday the show was sparsely attended by enthusiastic listeners. But it was 90 minutes of musical magnificence and I was transfixed!
Entrance is 20 reais. 10 for students and seniors. Sometimes the SESC people give us free passes to hand out from the record shop. Music begins at 8 p.m. with the exception of Tuesday, October 16, when it begins at 9.