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After four chords, the notes start to fly — Danilo Brito and his four collaborators, three Brazilians and one American, are off like jackrabbits in front of a hound, having hustled their instruments to the Tiny Desk at the end of a North American tour.
Brito plays bandolim, the Brazilian mandolin; ten strings instead of the more familiar, eight-stringed European and bluegrass versions. Brito, who is 32 years old and made his first record when he was a teenager, plays a type of music called choro (pronounced "shore-oo").
It's said that choro started in the streets and back yards and made its way to the concert hall. Brazilian musicians of all genres have drawn on choro, from popular composer Antonio Carlos Jobim to Heitor Villa Lobos, one of the giants of Latin American classical music. Its literal translation from the Portuguese is "to cry," but in Brito's dextrous hands a better translation may be "crying out to be heard."
You can hear Brito and his colleagues play their arrangement of Villa Lobos' "Melodia Sentimental," originally written for voice and orchestra, behind the Tiny Desk, but what you're actually hearing is a kind of formal Rodas de Choro, the circles of players who developed this music more than a century ago and have carried it on to the present.
Only — in the backyards, they don't wear suits and ties.
Danilo Brito is available now. (iTunes)
Danilo Brito (mandolin); Carlos Moura (7-string guitar); Guilherme Girardi (guitar); Lucas Arantes (cavaquinho); Brian Rice (pandeiro)
Producers: Tom Cole, Bronson Arcuri; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Director: Colin Marshall; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Bronson Arcuri, Colin Marshall; Production Assistant: A Noah Harrison; Photo: Ariel Zambelich/NPR.
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