Saturday, April 21, 2018

Michael Moss Accidental Orchestra HELIX CD Release Show Friday, May 18th 7-10 PM Westbeth Community Room

CD Release Party for
Michael Moss / Accidental Orchestra:  
Friday, May 18, 2018
7-10 PM
Westbeth Community Room
(between West St. and Washington St.)
New York, NY 10014

$10 donation

New CD

Multi-instrumentalist/composer Michael Moss, a veteran of New York’s free jazz scene, has assembled a brand-new 22-piece band, the Accidental Orchestra, for Helix, the premiere recording of a pair of his latest extended compositions. Helix kicks off with “The Old One,” which gets its title from Einstein’s name for God. Moss describes this five-piece suite as “an initiation into sacred ground.” He views it as part of a musical tradition stretching from the earliest ritual over the dead to Bach’s Mass in B Minor, through Native American rites of passage into the spirit world, the Jewish mourner’s Kaddish, and Buddhist funeral rituals. 

Moss wrote "See Sharp or Be Flat/C# or Bb" while recovering from a fracture suffered in tripping over a curb. The composer brings a quirky sense of humor to the situation, right down to deciding to name his ensemble the Accidental Orchestra in memory of the incident. Moss aimed to let the band swing on this contrapuntal theme and variations mixing jazz, rhythm and blues, and the joy of dance. “Throughout I refer to 'Norwegian Wood'(The Beatles), 'I Feel Good' (James Brown), and 'Bags Groove' (the Modern Jazz Quartet), but do not resort to familiar big band tropes,” Moss explains.

“This is a type of string orchestra, but with lots of jazz musicians pushing the boundaries.” The Chicago-born, Madison, Wisconsin-educated Michael Moss has been an active member of the New York jazz scene for 50 years, earning recognition for his skill and imagination as a multi-reed player, and for the freshness and intensity of his writing. The self-described “farthest-out cat” was a mainstay of Manhattan’s famed loft jazz scene, playing with Sam Rivers, Dave Liebman, Paul Bley, Annette Peacock, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Richie Beirach and scores of others.

He’s equally at home from a duo setting to an orchestra of 50-plus players. His musical studies have taken him across the globe and through the centuries, absorbing the music of Thailand, the Middle East, Ireland, Europe, East Africa, and elsewhere, with Renaissance orchestras, folk melodies, chants, blues, Latin and other styles catching his ear.

With Helix, “I am extending an American musical heritage, stretching from Charles Ives, Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, and Louis Armstrong into the future,” Moss says. Listeners can’t help but be captivated by what they hear, as they accompany Moss and the Accidental Orchestra on this life-long journey.

1. I INCEPTION 09:32

Jason Kao Hwang, Rosi Hertlein, Fung Chern Hwei (violins)
Stephanie Griffin (viola)
Lenny Mims, Carol Buck (cellos)
Steve Swell (trombone) 
Vincent Chancey (French horn)
Waldron Mahdi Ricks (trumpet)
Richard Keene (oboe)
Elliott Levin (flute, tenor saxophone)
Ras Moshe Burnett (soprano and tenor saxophones)
Michael Lytle (bass clarinet)
Michael Moss (Bb clarinet)
Steve Cohn (piano)
Billy Stein (guitar)
Rick Iannacone (ambient guitar)
Larry Roland (string bass)
Warren Smith (percussion, vibraphones)
Badal Roy (tabla)
Chuck Fertal (drums)
Michael Wimberly (djembe, African bells and percussion)

Recorded: October 10, 2016 at Systems Two, Brooklyn, NY
Recording Engineer, Mixing, Mastering: Jon Rosenberg
Conductor, Music Copyist: John Shea
Graphic Design: Santry Studios and Oshiin Studio

Dave Sewelson Interviews
Michael Moss 
on Little Water Radio: Music for a Free World

Media Contact
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Luboš Soukup Quartet - Země (ANIMAL MUSIC 2018)

Luboš Soukup Quartet’s  latest release, Země,  features guitar and vocals from Lionel Loueke

Luboš Soukup Quartet has released their third studio album, titled Země (The Earth). The jazz album features guest appearances from guitarist Lionel Loueke, who brings a slightly African touch. As with the band’s earlier releases, all music and arrangements are composed exclusively by the Czech saxophonist Luboš Soukup, and it is the first of the quartet’s offerings to feature vocal arrangements.

Compared to their previous release, Through the Mirror, which was recorded with an ensemble of 14 musicians, Země is more intimate and personal. The quartet’s  essence stays the same, but new musical interactions are presented. The instruments featured on the recording (saxophone, guitar, piano, double bass, and drums) are reminiscent of the quartet’s debut album Beyond the Borders, which featured a guest appearance from guitarist David Dorůžka. However, Soukup introduces a new instrument to this project, which has not previously been typical of his music, the voice. 

The saxophonist again joins forces with Danish drummer Morten Hæsum, one of the quartet’s founding members, and German pianist Christian Pabst, who featured on the quartet’s previous album. They are joined by Danish bassist Morten Haxholm, who has been with the band since 2016, and New York-based, Benin-raised guitarist, Lionel Loueke, who accompanies the band for six tracks, including providing vocals for some of them. Luboš Soukup, recipient of the Danish Music Talent Award 2017, first met  Lionel Loueke at a Summer jazz workshop for professional musicians in Vallekilde, Denmark, three years ago. At the beginning of 2017, Soukup invited Loueke to join his quartet for a European tour, during which the five musicians performed at Jazz Festival Brno, the Czech Republic, and in Copenhagen, Denmark, amongst others, and finished the tour in Danish studio, The Village Recordings, where they recorded the music for Země. 

Music that celebrates the Earth 

The CD begins with title track Země (The Earth), which was inspired by Loueke’s music. “I wrote this composition with Lionel in mind,” says Soukup,  “we live in interesting times and our planet faces many issues. My wish is that people strive to be more environmentally-friendly and sustainable, and that we are in closer contact with nature. I think future lifestyles will have to be simpler, which is a rather difficult task in today’s world with all the incredible possibilities we have.” This optimistic song is followed by rather darker ballad, Dark Shark.The track description from the CD insert reads: “A dark shark is floating around your head, waiting for your good thoughts to eat.” Continuing with the marine imagery, following track The Red Sea — inspired by the picture of Moses stretching out his hand over the sea and God parting the waters — is one of the most rhythmically complex pieces on the album.

Soukup borrows the word ‘Shikara’ from the Salman Rushdie classic, Midnight’s children, as the title for a short poem about small colorful boats on Indian lakes, and the dialogue between piano and clarinet is the leitmotif of calm and dreamlike composition, White Horse. The dreamy mood continues in the second part of Smoke, which is also one of the most technically sophisticated compositions. Soukup found inspiration for this tune in the eponymous movie directed by Paul Auster and Wayne Wang. An interesting music development can be also heard in C. The piece opens with the collective improvisation of piano, guitar, and soprano saxophone, and features a main theme of Latin-American vibes, finally graduating in an exposed guitar solo The only tune that bears any hallmarks of the classical jazz of the1960s is Falling star, which captures the impression of a falling star freezing on the horizon. The final track on the album is a positive arrangement of the Czech folk song Na Bílé Hoře (On the White Mountain) which, thanks to Lionel Loueke’s contribution, has a distinctly African feel.


Luboš Soukup Quartet first formed in 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. During this time, the band has changed its lineup several times. The remaining original members of the project are Czech saxophonist and clarinettist Luboš Soukup, who is also the founder, band leader, and exclusive composer of all the band’s music, and Danish drummer Morten Hæsum, who is renowned for his innovative, highly interactive way of playing. In the current line-up, the band also features German pianist Christian Pabst, who brings a fresh, lyrical style to Soukup’s compositions, and Danish bassist Morten Haxholm, who ensures that the music’s foundation is mature and solid.

Soukup studied at three European music schools, The Jazz Conservatory in Prague, Czechia, The Music Academy in Katowice, Poland, and The Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2011, he became the first scholar of the benefit project Chocomusic, which was founded by the O2 Foundation alongside Strings of Autumn, one of the biggest Czech music festivals, and which contributes to foreign studies. During his studies abroad, Soukup fell in love with Scandinavian musical tradition and settled in Denmark.

In addition to the Luboš Soukup Quartet, he also leads the internationally successful quartet Points, and its expanded versions — Points Septet and PointsRataj Quintet (a jazz quartet with live electronics). He is a member of the energetic Scandinavian band MAdHAs, the Czech-Polish quintet Inner Spaces, and the Czech big band, Concept Art Orchestra etc. In recent years, he has been very  involved with composing music for his own bands, as well as other people’s  projects, and he teaches Saxophone and Ensemble at the Music and Dance  Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU) in Prague.

The Benin-raised jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke makes a guest appearance on Země. Thanks to his originality, outstanding rhythm and well-honed technical skill, he has become one of the most sought after jazz musicians in the world today. He has previously featured in the work of Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Dave Holland, Chris Potter and many more.

1. Země (The Earth) 6:12
2. Dark Shark 6:05
3. The Red Sea 4:12
4. Shikara 6:51
5. White Horse 4:01
6. C 7:03
7. Falling Star 6:05
8. Smoke 7:06
9. Na Bílé hoře (On the White Mountain) 4:53

All compositions by Luboš Soukup, except track 9 (Czech folk song arranged by Luboš Soukup).

Christian Pabst – piano
Morten Haxholm – acoustic bass
Morten Hæsum – drums


Lionel Loueke – guitar and vocal

Alessandro Fedrigo / Secondo Solitario: Il 13esimo CD di

April 2018 / Aprile 2018


solo acoustic bass
basso acustico solo

Playing alone is a bit unconventional for a bass player, since generally the bass is an accompanying instrument. This setting has allowed Alessandro to explore new territories, entering a space free from contaminations, and exploiting the acoustic sound, without any device.

Fedrigo explores the worlds of writers, Murakami and Verne, reinterprets pieces played with the XYQuartet and Hyper+ and finishes with two free improvisations.

Suonare in solo è un po' desueto per un bassista, abituato alla funzione ritmica del suo strumento. In questo caso Alessandro sa esplorare nuovi territori, entrare in spazi liberi da contaminazioni e valorizzare al massimo il suo suono acustico, privo di artifici. 

Qui Fedrigo esplora il mondo degli scrittori, da Murakami a Verne, passando per composizioni suonate con i gruppi XYQuartet e Hyper+, per concludere poi con due improvvisazioni libere.


SKNAIL - Newsletter April and May 2018


SION (Switzerland)

Saturday 12th of May 2018


SKNAIL will present his futuristic and organic jazz at La Ferme Asile in Sion (Switzerland) and take the opportunity to preview a part of his new repertoire from his new album "Mutation" which will be released in September 2018.

Cortex: Avant-Garde Party Music (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

Cortex? No, this isn’t jazz of the cerebral kind – even considering that the approach in “Avant-Garde Party Music” is very much the intelectual one coming from the bebop / hard bop era (when the music seated its users, inviting them to listen and not prioritarily to dance) and approaching our times through the free jazz evolutive line. Avant-garde the music certainly is, but you can still party with it, because this record grooves and swings like hell. Not in the conventional way, of course, but giving a chance to your temptation to shake the body. Having the transitional years going from bop to free as reference, it’s natural that you find on these tracks the influence of what Ornette Coleman did with Don Cherry. But this isn’t as simple as that: Cortex is a Scandinavian band and as such the music has a twist, the same you’ve found before in groups like The Thing, Atomic and The Core: a sort of hyper-realism, turning this jazz born in Europe even more “authentic” than the American original.

1 Grinder 5:49
2 Chaos 3:48
3 Waltz 5:58
4 (If you where) Mac Davis 3:38
5 Disturbanc 4:22
6 Obverse/Reverse 5:01
7 Perception 5:12
8 Off Course 3:54

Thomas Johansson  trumpet
Kristoffer Berre Alberts  saxophones
Ola Høyer  double bass
Gard Nilssen  drums

Maria da Rocha - Beetroot & Other Stories (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

Portuguese, violinist and violetist with parallel careers in erudite and experimental improvised music, besides dedications to fado and tango, Maria da Rocha has in “Beet Root & Other Stories” her first solo album. Successor of the duo recorded with Maria W. Horn, “Pink”, this new title presents one of several versions already established for the work-in-progress “Beet Root”, after the first approaches inspired in “Circe”, by Julio Cortázar, in which the author’s compositions, mainly graphic scores painted with china ink and collages with vegetal paper, were interleaved with others of the Baroque period of composers like Bach, Biber, Uccelini and Corelli. Along her path, da Rocha enhanced the use of analog synthesizers, the processing of both the violin and the viola with effect pedals and the resource to magnetic tapes, and that investigative work is well reflected here. A solist in interpretations of Beethoven, Hindemith, Hoffmeister and Telemann, among others, and a member of several symphonic orchestras, her interest is more and more oriented to the violin’s possibility to «transcend itself in other musical languages besides the classical one». In the present case, she does it with a dramatization «intensively exploring the feminine universe», telling the story of a beet and a witch in an unnusual way and with a distinctive personality. Highly recommendable.

1 Lumen 2:40
2 Wave 7:05
3 Diving 2:22
4 Lost 3:35
5 Fogo 6:53
6 Vertigo 9:34
7 Liq Machina 8:17
8 La Fenix 5:19
9 Peixe Azul 1:56
10 Fulfill 17:21
11 Melancholia 4:46
12 Schaulust 3:01
13 Snowgliss 0:58

Maria da Rocha  violin & synths; viola (track 12)

Tyler Higgins - Blue Mood (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

Known primarily as a guitarist, Tyler Higgins’ skill as a multi-instrumentalist is very much on display in “Blue Mood” – with the late night feel of the album’s cinematic arrangements. This Atlanta native’s approach is an intuitive synthesis of traditional folk, blues, and jazz material through the filter of experimental techniques. Each one of these ingredients is disembodied in order to create a music with no defined name, denying the general tendency to easy labels. It is a personal style that works like film music – distinct from a clear genre the focus is instead on the mood and feel of the music. While instrumental, the music is presented in song format — each piece a miniature that finishes when a particular mood installs itself in our imagination. It unfolds like a road movie with the varying instrumentation of lap steel, mellotron, harmonica, Paul Steven’s brush drums, and Ellen Higgins’ wordless vocals bringing different scenes into focus. Song titles such as “Motel TV”, “Groceries, Milk, Cigarettes”, or “Slow Night” lends the album a visual quality that perfectly resonates with the cover photo by Todd Hido. What results has a sincerity that takes the carpet out from under us instantly. Like a faded polaroid, “Blue Mood” highlights the beauty of the unpolished work.

1 Takeout Chinese 3:31
2 Plan B 2:50
3 Blue Flowers 2:38
4 Too Late Blues 4:34
5 Haunted Heart 2:32
6 Groceries Milk Cigarettes 3:19
7 Motel Tv 3:47
8 Chasing Shadows 3:42
9 Nice n' Easy 3:04
10 Slow Night 2:48
11 Night Sung Sailor's Prayer 3:25
12 Lost & Found 3:24

Tyler Higgins  guitars, bass, mellotron, chamberlin, lap steel, celesta, harmonica, voice
Paul Stevens  drums, piano
Ellen Higgins  voice

Brazilian Girls - Let’s Make Love (SIX DEGREES 2018)

Brazilian Girls return in 2018 with Let’s Make Love, their first album since the 2008 Grammy-nominated New York City. Formed in 2003, the group—Sabina Sciubba (lead vocals, electronics), Jesse Murphy (bass, vocals), Didi Gutman (keyboards, vocals), Aaron Johnston (drums, percussion, vocals)—was born after the four members crossed paths at East Village club Nublu. “Somehow we all ended up at Nublu on a Sunday and it all came together,” says Johnston. The band began playing Nublu weekly, embracing a free-form ethos that helped shape their kaleidoscopic sound. “A lot of the spirit of the band comes from being so open to improvise like that,” says Murphy. Fast earning attention for their euphoric live show—and winning fans like Zach Galifianakis, who later cast Sciubba as a regular on Baskets—Brazilian Girls released their self-titled debut in 2005 and sophomore album Talk to La Bomb in 2006.

Produced by longtime Brazilian Girls collaborator Frederik Rubens, Let’s Make Love came to life over the course of several years. Since they’re now scattered throughout the U.S. and Europe, the four band members assembled when possible to write and record, piggybacking those sessions onto gigs in Istanbul and Madrid and Paris and New York. Despite the distance, Brazilian Girls consistently found their chemistry as kinetic as when they first started out. “It’s a little astounding to us because we’ll go so long without playing, and then we get together and things just happen in this very harmonious way,” says Sciubba.

Go Out More Often
Wild Wild Web
We Stopped
Let’s Make Love
Balla Balla
Woman In The Red
The Critic (Album Version)
Sunny Days
Looking For Love

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Valeria Matzner - Anima (May 16, 2018)

Telling a Gentler Story: Grunge-Born, Jazz-Inspired Singer-Songwriter Valeria Matzner Finds the Tender Side of her South American Soul on Anima

Uruguayan-born singer-songwriter Valeria Matzner walked into the studio with a book full of ideas. But she had no idea what final shape they would take. “Twenty minutes before the recording session, I announced that I had an idea and want to work on it. Our engineer was so patient with me. I wanted it to be very soft and tender. South American singing is not about showing off your instrument, your technique, it’s about singing the damn song,” Matzner states. “I don’t want to show I have a pretty voice. I want to tell a story.”

Matzner went in and nailed it, crafting the tender ballad “Amor y Soledad.” The track channels vulnerable sway and intimate appeal of Anima (release: May 16, 2018), Matzner’s first solo album and first recording after immigrating to Canada and diving into jazz. The Montevideo native explores the softer side of her musical soul, filtered through a firm commitment to songwriting and a new-found perspective on her South American past.

“A lot of the songs on this album took a lot of reaching to write. I found myself able to write faster, upbeat songs easily. But writing ballads, I resisted that,” she muses. “I had to embrace the tender and vulnerable part of me. In this part of my life, I’m getting more in touch with that side.”

Matzner’s music wasn’t always so gentle in its approach. Though she grew up with classical training, singing as a chorister in the national choir, she and a friend would slip away from rehearsal to hang out with the guys at a local record store, asking for mixtapes. Matzner soon added hard rock and punk to the Latin, tango, and Brazilian music she heard her parents play at home. 

When the Seattle sound swept the world thanks Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Matzner knew what she had to do. She started her own band, Blue Angel, with friends. Playing in a band meant writing your own songs: “If you played someone else’s music, you were considered a fake. You weren’t contributing anything,” recounts Matzner. “I showed some ideas that I had to a friend of mine, and I started writing my own music.” Over time, the band’s sound morphed to incorporate more local elements--even Ecuadorian folk music--into the grunge.

It was tough to earn respect as a female bandleader, but Matzner did it. The band played all over, from small holes in the wall to big festivals, even at SXSW. Then Matzner fell in love, married a fan, and wound up in a remote part of northern British Columbia. She found her music career on hold in her new homeland and her identity shifting as she adjusted slowly to life in Canada. 

After some years, some heartbreak, and some moving around, Matzner found music calling her again. This time, she decided to pursue training in jazz. “I decided to go to music school,” says Matzner. “I got into something new, jazz and electronic music composition. Electronic music guided me in ways you may not hear at first,” but that pop in intriguing ways in Anima’s production choices, including an unexpected cover of Radiohead deep cut, “Lotus Flower.”

Jazz did, too, and its impact is readily apparent (“Illusion”). Yet as with rock, Matzner did not want to stick with singing standards. She began to write her own songs, eventually finding pianist and songwriter Scott Metcalfe to collaborate with. Matzner and Metcalfe both had a long history of writing across genres and styles. Together, they captured a variety of moments, sounds, and beats, like the feel of a newly democratic, musically bubbling Buenos Aires in “Contemporaineo,” where Matzner spent several years as a young woman.

They discovered ways to pay tribute to Matzner’s love of Brazil and its many musical styles. Portuguese often intermingles with Spanish in her lyrics, or inspires entire songs, like the beautiful “Lua Cheia.” A late-night swim in Rio with the lights of the city shimmering on the waves sparked “Cor,” which weaves together two different Brazilian rhythms. “It’s about finding peace in the water,” Matzner explains. “I wanted to stay there and never come out and just find peace in the current, submerging myself and looking at the colors.” 

Reaching into South American sounds came naturally to Matzner as part of her ongoing adjustment to life in a new, very different country. “I realized I was getting deeper into my roots as I worked more and more in jazz,” recounts Matzner. “Musical exploration and memory became a way of finding myself more and more in a culture.” Digging deep also meant surfacing an emotionally tense tenderness in songs like “For My Father,” a song connected to Matzner’s restored connection to her father as an adult.

These intense subjects and stories channelled with a gentle touch are steps toward a new, more mature songwriting style, an achievement honored by a recent Global Music Award. Songs like “Broken Landscapes” point in this direction: “I’m drawn more and more to a philosophical way of looking at things and writing songs,” muses Matzner. “It’s painful to have to dig into yourself for inspiration. It’s very self-absorbed. I want to sing more outwardly, about stories outside of me.” Matzner instead strives to sing about the world, via the lens of a resonant soul, to the beat of the Latin pulse she imbibed from childhood.

1 - Contemporaneo
2 - Ilusion
3 - De Amor y Soledad
4 - For my Father
5 - Lotus Flower
6 - Cor
7 - Broken Landscapes
8 - Lua Cheia

More info...

Catherine Bent - Ideal (2018)

Fearless Pursuit of Joy: How Catherine Bent Took to Brazil’s Sensual Swinging Choro and Found it Ideal for the Cello

Cellist Catherine Bent tumbled off the bus, case in tow, and walked into a room full of guitar players at Rio de Janeiro’s main choro school. She had arrived the previous night in Rio for the first time and knew no Portuguese (yet). The guitarists spoke no English. Somehow, they asked her to play, and somehow, she understood. She sailed through a popular choro piece, and another, and then – her audience still attentive – she dived into Bach. A roomful of skeptics became a roomful of supporters, and she was whisked off to her first jam session over feijoada and caipirinhas.

“Doors opened for me,” Bent recalls. “I was warmly welcomed into the world of choro in Rio. I had been there less than a month and was invited to play twice with a famous choro band on national radio. It could have been the novelty of a woman from outside Brazil, a cellist, who played the music. But I had also taken the time to really learn the style and a decent body of repertoire. It made it very easy to grow as a performer of the music.”

The Berklee professor has kept the tense wonder of that first encounter in her playing and composing, as her engagement with Brazil’s century-old answer to the string band grows. On Ideal, the first recording chronicling Bent’s choro-inspired work, she unites top-shelf Brazilian players to explore the elegant tradition and its expressive, experimental possibilities.

“I have been struck by the strong sense of community and sharing in Brazil,” Bent notes. “It was intense, the experiences I had in that community, and it required a certain surrender and trust. The kind of trust takes you to other places.”

“Until my 20s, I generally had a color-inside-the-lines approach to music,” recalls Bent. “Then I got into punk and avant-garde approaches and did a lot of free improv and experimental work in New York City, even before starting my more disciplined study of jazz. That was also the time when I started developing my techniques for groove-based music on cello.”

These techniques drew her to musical styles that could make full use of strings, but that were not necessarily designed for her instrument, styles like choro. Choro developed in the late 19th century and came into its own in the 1920s and 1930s, an offshoot of European social dance music and Brazil’s unique mix of African and indigenous elements. (Bent paints a picture of its early evolution from polka to maxixe on “Quebrando Tudo.”) Choro kept the elegance of dances like the waltz or the schottische, yet transformed them with rhythmic and melodic variation, and a swing and sensuality all its own. Pieces often captured everyday moments or paid tribute to homelands their composers had left behind.

Bent first ran into choro as a grad student at the New England Conservatory, while getting her masters in jazz. “l met a flute player, half Israeli and half Brazilian. He brought a book of Pixinguinha to our playing session,” Bent remembers. “I thought at first: this is really challenging. It wasn’t written for cello. It had melodic appeal and a groove and improvisation. I took it on as a vehicle for growth.” Choro soon went from interesting exercise to intense fascination.

The fascination took her to Brazil, where spontaneous musical relationship arose and Bent marveled at the strange ease. It proved inspiring: “Really deep friendships started, creating more community around music than I’d felt before,” marvels Bent. “We didn’t even need to share a spoken language at first. It was just the music and open-eyed trust.” Bent pays tribute to this experience of opening and embracing with “Mãos Abertas,” referring to the open-handed way her new friends shared their music and lives.

After several summers in Brazil, having gained further mastery of the music and the language, Bent was hearing choro pieces in her head, often at the least convenient times, like when packing to leave for two months in Rio. Her first composed choro, “Fazendo as Malas,” came to her amid half-packed suitcases. She found herself rushing to the piano to jot down a few more lines, a couple more ideas.

Like choro itself, Bent’s pieces often incorporate sounds and styles from around Brazil, elements of the music’s history and potential. Forró and other northeastern Brazilian rhythms inspired “Som do Seilerei,” a musically layered send-up of a disastrous yet funny soundcheck. Free jazz breaks, sinuous woodwinds (Bia Stutz’s elegant clarinet), and unexpected and delightful dialog between brass (the prodigy Moraes brothers) and cello all add twists to choro that expand the style without fully departing from it.

These ideas flowed in part from Bent’s profound gratitude for the lessons and gifts the choro community had given her. “I felt the need to start contributing. People get happy when I play, but I was enjoying hospitality, the gift of the music, without giving much of myself back,” muses Bent. “And I needed to go deeper, to be part of the conversation more. But because I write complex pieces that depart from traditional forms, my music isn’t practical for a choro session where most are learning by ear. Some people have already asked for my charts, and I hope the recording will help make the tunes approachable to play.”

To record, Bent turned to her most admired choro colleagues to join her in the studio. Close friend and sax player Daniela Spielmann was someone she knew had to be involved. And Bent invited guitarist Lucas Porto who, as she knew from jam sessions, was a master of both the nylon 6-string and the steel 7-string styles integral to choro.

Bent realizes that she’s tinkering with beloved traditions, but that’s a part of choro’s history, too. Witness the late 19th-century renegade composer, pianist, and social activist Francisca Edwige Neves "Chiquinha" Gonzaga, who left a comfortable middle-class marriage to pursue her music and unfashionable human rights causes. Bent pays tribute to her life and draws on her defiant creative spirit on “A Boa Filha Partiu.” “The most traditional players are not always into what I’m doing, though I respect their intentions,” Bent explains. “Over recent years, I’ve come to see that I don’t have to be a ‘good girl,’ in art or in life. While the respect is there, so is the playfulness. I want to be free and do things that are risky, things that are a bit quirky.”

Even if Bent’s iterations of choro and other Brazilian forms push the boundaries, her zest and commitment to taking joy in artistic risk feel part of a long line of playful innovators. “Choro brought back that fearless pursuit of joy for me, the heart of music,” says Bent. “You have to leave a light personal footprint in classical music and think foremost about the composer’s intent. Choro works differently. Mistakes in choro make people laugh. You might get lost or jump into another tune and find an interesting way back. It brought me so much freedom as a musician. It’s how I found my voice.”

01 - A Boa Filha Partiu
02 - Chinderlândia
03 - Insegurança na Gafieira
04 - Quebrando Tudo
05 - Mãos Abertas
06 - Valsa pro Francisco
07 - Fazendo as Malas
08 - Som do Seilerei
09 - Zona Franca
10 - Aviação