Carinhoso is Portuguese for “loving”
Brejeiro’s second CD ‘Carinhoso’ epitomises how talented and versatile these musicians are. Dave Griffiths and Mike Pryor acquired and learned to play cavaquinhos and what a brilliant job they have done. Between them on this CD, Dave and Mike also play bandolim, mandolin and dobro-mandolin, while Andy Fuller shows off his dexterity on pandeiro (Brazilian tambourine), cajon (box drum) and tam tam (hand drum), and Helen James provides strong rhythm guitar with flowing lyrical bass line accompaniment of as high a standard as you may come across.
The CD kicks off at a cracking pace with Camundongo by Waldir Azevdo, king of cavaquinho-led Choros in the 40s, 50s & 60s. My favourite track is Vibraçöes (Jacob do Bandolim) which for some reason makes me want to cry – could it have something to do with the fact that the literal translation of Choro is ‘to cry’?
The material for this CD comes from many hours spent searching out new repertoire, selecting pieces from workshops done with artists such as Mike Marshall and John Reischman and trying out different arrangements unique to the group. Some tracks are familiar, including beautiful tune Como Llora Una Estrella (Antonio Carrillo), delightful Doce de Coco (Jacob do Bandolim) and jazzy Delicado (Waldir Azevedo). Also worthy of special mention is show stopper Libertango (Astor Piazzolla). The playing throughout is splendid; clear, clean melody notes, driving guitar rhythm and just listen to Andy’s amazing finger-rolls on pandeiro
Sandra Woodruff (BMG Federation Review)
La Llorona is Spanish for “the weeping woman,”
Brejeiro is an exciting new acoustic group specialising in the choro style of music from Brazil. Twin mandolins play haunting melodies roving over a pulsating rhythm guitar; propelled by dynamic Latin percussion that makes dancing simply irresistible. Traditional Choro tunes are mixed with contemporary songs as well as original compositions producing a vibrant show that has been getting rave reviews.
Having never listened to choro music before I approached this CD not knowing what to expect and was very pleasantly surprised. and was instantly converted.
To the people of South America, Choro is Brazil. It is life. The first track sets the tone for the rest of the CD, an infectious melody of singing mandolins laced with complicated rhythms that will have even the most unmusical among us tapping our feet and looking for someone to dance with.
Both mandolins produce a chorus of sound backed by the superb Latin percussion of Andy Fuller mixed together with excellent acoustic guitar and just a dash of Caipirinha.
The CD encapsulates the essence of choro and it’s hard to believe this band originate from Bristol, not Brazil. The well thought out arrangements combine to create an invigorating and exciting blend of melody and rhythm enough to keep any mandolin enthusiast satisfied.
Barry Gambles – Mandolin.org.uk
Brejeiro – ‘La Llorona’
Cat No: CLICK002
The rise in popularity of Brazilian Choro has been one of the more significant musical success stories in recent years. It’s not specifically a mandolin based form, but the instrument features strongly. Indeed, the mandolin’s standing in Brazil is something we in the UK might envy.
Brejeiro are not the first outside Brazil to play Choro on mandolins (Marilynn Mair and Mike Marshall are but two of many addicts in the USA), but they’re the first Brits to my knowledge. Mike Prior and Dave Griffiths, superb players both, share the mandolin honours. Interestingly they choose very different styles of mandolin: Griffiths on a Phil Davidson South American style instrument with a slightly arched (but not carved) top and Pryor on a carved Gibson F5. The instruments blend really well on the tightly executed harmony lines, while the solos, particularly on the soulful title track, give the listener a chance to compare the throaty voice of the F5 with the silvery treble of Griffith’s instrument.
The rhythm section of Helen James on guitar and Andy Fuller on assorted percussion is more than up to the job, supporting the mandolins and driving the whole thing along with an infectious joy. It’s vital to this album’s success.
This is a collection of almost entirely Brazilian music: no surprise that Jacob do Bandolim is represented by three tracks, along with the equally celebrated Ernesto Nazareth and various other Brazilian composers.
The mandolins sparkle throughout. While the idiom remains broadly the same, pretty much all human emotion is covered, from the tender drama of Quando me Lembro, on which Griffiths, duetting with Helen James, also turns in a technical tour-de-force, to the chirpy Jesusita en Chihuahua – I defy you not to smile at this! Pryor is equally impressive elsewhere and also deserves special mention for his own composition La Frontera, a seriously catchy latin/newgrassy piece. Despite being the only contribution from within the quartet it sits more than comfortably on the album.
Eyebrows are sometimes raised at those who take on music from another culture, but if that music is deemed worthy of export, we should expect it to evolve, at first in style and eventually in content. So nobody would expect a Chinese orchestra to play Beethoven exactly like the Berlin Philharmonic, and while Stephane Grappelli played jazz, he certainly didn’t sound American.Fools would rush to judge, but the majority of us would celebrate such diversity.
Brejeiro have taken a musical genre, communicated it with drive and joy, and laced it with moments of humour and technical brilliance.
Do they sound authentically Brazilian? This reviewer is British and couldn’t tell you. What’s more, when the music’s this good he doesn’t care, and I suspect they don’t either.
Simon Mayor – Mandolin.co.uk
Bristol/Bath quartet dazzle with their Choro music.
Brejeiro play a Brazilian music that is decidedly not bossa nova; it is Choro, and it is charming, lovely and lively. Choro is typically led by two dual mandolins, played by Mike Pryor and Dave Griffiths, supported by Helen James’ gut-string guitar and Andy Fuller’s percussion.
Their musicianship is jaw-dropping, but that takes a back seat to the sheer, vibrant melodicism of the music, which seems a montage of influences, each occasionally rising to the fore: samba, flamenco, gypsy jazz, native Indian folk, Europop, even mariachi.
This is not something made up by this Bristol quartet; it is the real thing and they have the reviews to prove it. But the bottom line is: it sounds great; enjoy it first, talk about the authenticity later.
Electric Ghost magazine
A Social History of Choro of Braziilian Popular Music