:: These reviews were originally published
:: in Daniella Thompson on Brazil.


Choro, Italian style

Gabriele Mirabassi plays
Pixinguinha and Sérgio Assad.

Daniella Thompson

9 March 2002

Gabriele Mirabassi is an Italian clarinet virtuoso noted for his contributions to contemporary music and jazz. His recordings encompass a wide range of genres and styles, so it’s no surprise that Brazilian music—which he discovered as an adolescent through Egberto Gismonti’s album Sanfona—is claiming an increasingly important place in his discography. In the past three years, Mirabassi has dedicated two albums to Brazilian music.

The more recent release, 1 - 0 (uno a zero), offers a selection of choro classics with a European twist. Instead of relying on the traditional conjunto regional’s backbone of guitar, cavaquinho, and pandeiro accompanying a solo instrument, Mirabassi’s arrangements employ four instruments—clarinet, mandolin, accordion, and tuba—in both solo and supportive roles.

Pixinguinha dominates the repertoire. Mirabassi, who like Paulo Moura finds great affinity between Pixinguinha and Duke Ellington, loaded the disc with eight compositions by the great choro composer, including the title tune “Um a Zero,” composed in honor of the paulista football ace Arthur Friedenreich, who shot the only goal in a match against Uruguay, winning for Brazil the 1919 South American championship and its first international soccer title. In a ball game of their own, clarinet, accordion, and tuba toss the melody back and forth and dribble counterpoints against each other.

Throughout the album, the clarinet rotates shades in a chameleon-like fashion, now taking on, now discarding the hues of Altamiro Carrilho’s choro flute, Benny Goodman’s Swing, a klezmer reed, or a progressive-jazz horn. Ernesto Nazareth’s warhorse “Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho” receives perhaps the most atypical interpretation in a leisurely accordion solo. Mirabassi also treats us to his own composition, “Non ci resta che... chorar!” (there’s nothing left to do but cry), which begins with a slow tuba solo that develops into a sprightly and swinging clarinet, accordion, and tuba romp.

In contrast, Velho Retrato is a more intimate disc of clarinet and guitar. And not just any guitar but the instrument of Sérgio Assad, who composed all the tunes but one. The tone here is one of contemporary chamber music infused with a subtle but distinct swing and the occasional improvised layer. “Grumari” is a delectable example of the duo’s exquisite collaboration.

Gabriele Mirabassi: 1 - 0 (uno a zero)
(Egea SCA 088; 2001) 51:30 min.

Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet)
Patrick Vaillant (mandolin)
Luciano Biondini (accordion)
Michel Godard (tuba)

01. Um a Zero (Pixinguinha)
02. Ainda Me Recordo (Pixinguinha)
03. Ingênuo (Pixinguinha)
04. Proezas de Solon (Pixinguinha)
05. Seu Lourenço no Vinho (Pixinguinha)
06. Non ci resta che... chorar! (Gabriele Mirabassi)
07. Vou Vivendo (Pixinguinha)
08. Chorei (Pixinguinha)
09. Carinhoso (Pixinguinha)
10. Apanhei-te, Cavaquinho (Ernesto Nazareth)
11. A Ginga do Mané (Jacob Pick Bittencourt)
12. Vidinha Boa (Jacob Pick Bittencourt)
13. Brejeiro (Ernesto Nazareth)

Gabriele Mirabassi & Sérgio Assad: Velho Retrato
(Egea SCA 068; 1999) 45:51 min.

Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet)
Sérgio Assad (acoustic guitar)

01. Un Abbraccio a João (Sérgio Assad)
02. Menino (Sérgio Assad)
03. Grumari (Sérgio Assad)
04. Violetas Azuis (Sérgio Assad)
05. Champ (Sérgio Assad)
06. Velho Retrato (Sérgio Assad)
07. Hopscotch (Sérgio Assad)
08. Mangabeira (Sérgio Assad)
09. Flutuante (Clarice Assad)
10. Angela (Sérgio Assad)


Copyright © 2002–2008 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.