The word may imply tears, but the world hasn’t produced much music more joyful than Brazil’s choro.
“There are a couple of schools of thought on the meaning of the word,” says Amy Burcham, a choro enthusiast who’s helped to book and organize a workshop and concert by the Brazilian group Choro das 3 for the Memphis Acoustic Music Association. “Literally translated, it means ‘to cry.’ But a lot of people would say it’s crying in the same way they’d say, ‘Listen to Benny Goodman wail.’ At least, that’s the spin you get nowadays,” Burcham says.
Others say the form is named for a 19th-century dance or the choromeleiros, the Brazilian wind ensembles popular in Rio in the 1830s.
“Either way, it is a sweet lament,” Burcham says of the form, which sounds like gypsy jazz with a hint of European classical, incorporating guitars, mandolins, flutes, and various Brazilian folk instruments. “You could listen to a choro written in 1910 played on an electric bass and synthesizer and other modern instruments, and it would still sound beautiful,” Burcham says. “It’s so perfectly balanced and alive.”
In addition to performing, Choro das 3 — a popular Brazilian family band showcasing the talents of three sisters (Corina, Lia, and Elisa) — will conduct a choro workshop for Memphis-area musicians and fans. The workshop takes place Wednesday, July 10th, in the classroom area near the Blythe Street entrance of First Congregational Church in Cooper-Young.
The Memphis Area Acoustic Music Association presents Choro das 3 at First Congregational Church Wednesday, July 10th. Workshop: 1:30-3:30 p.m. $25.
Concert: 7 p.m. $20. Cash only at the door. www.mamamusic.org