Modern Traditions Ensemble
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cd cover Modern Traditions Ensemble
New Old Music

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São Paulo pianist Benjamin Taubkin began carving out a career in the late 1970s, but his first solo outing came only in 1997. The following year he founded the folk-inspired Orquesta Popular de Câmara, whose delightful debut appeared in 2004. Founded by Taubkin, the paradoxically named Modern Traditions Ensemble comprises the talents of choro veterans Isaías Bueno de Almeida (mandolinist, composer and leader of São Paulo's celebrated Isaías e Seus Chorôes), his brother Israel "7 Cordas" Bueno de Almeida (seven-string guitar), and Naylor "Proveta" Azevedo (soprano sax), together with in-demand percussionist Guello. The repertoire is classic choro, performed with the characteristic reserve of this wistful yet vivacious genre: Pixinguinha's "Proezas de solon," "Coxixando," "Lamentos" and "Cheguei"; Jacobo do Bandolim's "Vibrações" and "Pérolas"; Kchimbinho's "Sonoroso"; Ernesto Nazareth's "Gotas do ouro"; and Garoto's "Lamentos do morro." Taubkin brings a straight-ahead contemporary jazz feel to the project, but the elegant refinement that the elder musicians invest in the music is always and rightly out front. Every number recalls the old saying among choro musicians that each new piece you learn is the most poignant title ever written. Prove the aficionados wrong if you can, but this dazzling array of timeless choros will have you at the task for a long time to come. - Michael Stone

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