By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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The choro concert, an annual tradition in Port Townsend, stars an array of well-known artists: mandolinist Dudu Maia, seven-string guitar player Henrique Neto, percussionist Alexandre Lora, pianist Jovino Santos Neto, and Cohen, a jazz clarinetist making her first appearance here. Cohen, whose 11 recordings include “Poetica” (2007), “Notes from the Village” (2008) and “Claroscuro” from last year, has also played in the Newport, Montreal International and North Sea jazz festivals, among other celebrations of jazz around the globe.
The Centrum foundation is presenting the 7:30 p.m. choro concert, so tickets are $25 at www.Centrum.org or by phoning Centrum at 360-385-3102, ext. 117. On Saturday evening, tickets will also go on sale at the door at 7 p.m., and Centrum will provide free parking passes at the entrance to Fort Worden 200 Battery Way.
Choro, also known as Brazil’s sweet lament, is one of the South American land’s oldest traditional styles. It’s a coming together of sound from two continents: European melody and harmony and African rhythm and tradition — while it’s sometimes compared with jazz for its improvisational tendencies.
Yet choro has a sadder side. Beneath its sparkling veneer — its appearance in street parades and the fluid, ecstatic sound of the music itself — lies the darker history of colonized Brazil.
“There is a wonderful, bittersweet quality about it. It often seems bright and happy on the surface,” said Andy Connell, an ethnomusicologist who specializes in Brazilian popular music and society.
“But if you dig deeper, you find a kind of sadness, a longing that the Brazilians call saudade, which is hard to describe but which gives the music its emotional power.”
By the late 19th century, choro music was a dazzling part of Brazilian nightlife, Connell said.
“Rio de Janeiro burst with inspired choro musicians, and the musical arena was uniquely tolerant of the mixing of classes,” he said. “Slaves and freed slaves played alongside, and often surpassed, conservatory-trained musicians.”