By Don Heckman
May 4, 2016, Medford, Oregon
Brazilian music in one of its most richly emotional forms was on the menu Wednesday night at the Rogue Community College Black Box Theatre. The program, which featured the Trio Brasileiro with clarinetist Anat Cohen, offered a stunning display of Brazilian Choro and Samba music.
The music got underway with a rhythmic drive that continued throughout the show. The three members of the Trio –Douglas Lora (guitar), Dudu Maia (mandolin) and Alexandre Lora (percussionist) and Anat Cohen were seated on a row of chairs, side by side on the stage floor, directly facing the enthusiastic capacity audience up close. Their first tune in a virtual non stop program of Choro and Samba songs began a run of stimulating works that continued throughout.
Although Douglas Lora announced most song titles, usually referencing one of their many albums, few, if any, were familiar to the American audience. But no matter. All of the tunes stood on their own ( many of which were original compositions ) contrasting beautifully composed segments against the guitar and mandolin improvisation of Dudu Maia with Anat Cohen’s high flying clarinet solos .
Sometimes described as Brazil’s jazz, Choro has many creative similarities, embracing improvisation, harmonic structures similar to the blues, and an instrumental structure comparable to small group jazz. Most of these similarities were fully present in the Trio Brasileiro concert.. At their best, the players illuminated the deep, creative comparisons between Choro and jazz.
In an evening of memorable musical highlights, Cohen’s superb clarinet work led the way. Soaring through the busy passages, she shifted easily into fast fingered bebop-tinged Choro, tossed in an occasional whimsical phrase or two, in seamless interaction with the Trio.
It is worth noting that this ensemble of gifted and world class musicians has chosen an arduous West Coast tour with three more California stopovers: Friday in Half Moon Bay, Saturday in Napa, and Sunday in Monterey.
So kudos once again to Ed Dunsavage, Artistic Director of the Siskiyou Music Project for yet another evening of compelling music with world class musicians.
Don’t miss the next program on the Project’s 2016 schedule – a return visit by the Gonzalo Begara Group on MAY 15 at the Paschal Winery.
Photos and Video by Faith Frenz