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Catherine Bent

Artist release (
Review by Tom Orr

Listen "A Boa Filha Partiu"

Sure, folks all over the planet know about widespread Brazilian music styles like samba and bossa nova. But choro, which apparently preceded those other two in popularity, is another matter. Having come about in the mid-to-late 19th century, choro was, like so much music of the Western Hemisphere, a combination of European and African influences. In the beginning, sprightly rhythms played on guitar and ukulele-like cavaquinho provided the fuel for melodic topping most often rendered on a flute. Later evolving of the music brought about the addition of other string and reed instruments as well as percussion. Sometimes considered the Brazilian equivalent of polka or ragtime, choroís deft, tightly played characteristics nonetheless leave room for improvisation and innovation.

Listen "Chinderl‚ndia" (excerpt)

A recent resurgent interest in choro (which had fallen out of favor after its initial heyday) brought new possibilities, and American cellist Catherine Bent is intent on exploring them. Despite her chosen instrument being well outside the choro norm, Bent found favor among Rio de Janeiroís finest practitioners of it, who were quick to spot the commitment and skill of someone who, quite against the odds, spoke their musical language.

Listen " Quebrando Tudo" (excerpt)

Ideal is Bentís first choro release, and seldom has an album title been more appropriate as to how well a musical leap of faith pays off. All the tracks are Bentís own compositions, and all have an instantly classic sound thatíll get you swinging and swaying with delight in no time. Interestingly, this disc doesnít merely sound like a successful attempt to fuse the cello into choro; it sounds like the cello was meant to be there from the start and easily might have been if the originators of the style had willed it. Any doubts about such a contention will be quelled by listening to how fittingly Bent can trade solos with clarinet, trumpet and 7-string guitar atop chattering percussion, bring an extra layer of emotion to the moodier pieces or dive fearlessly into a multi-level jam that turns every which way and back in an eye blink. Factor in sounds, arrangements and inspirations that could thrill listeners from New Orleans to Bahia to anywhere in the Lusophone world or the world beyond, and the result is a collection of choro-inspired instrumentals that are as satisfying in their sophistication as they are in joyful adventurousness. - Tom Orr

Visit the artist online

Further reading:
The Roots Of Brazil by Christina Roden
Mike Marshall & Hamilton de Holanda (Review)


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