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Raphael RABELLO (1962-1995)
Cry, My Guitar
PIXINGUINHA and Benedicto LACERDA

1 Ainda Me Recordo [3.06]
Canhoto da PARAÍBA

2. Tua Imagen; 9.Com Mais de Mil [3.27]
Baden POWELL

3. Sentimentos, seVoce Pergunta: Nunca Vai Saber [4.49]
Raphael RABELLO

4. Meu Avô {3.10]; 5.Pedra do Leme (with Toquinho) [2:59]; 7.Camará [4.40];
10. Moleque do Gantois [2.36]; 13. Sete Corda [4.01]
Laurindo ALMEIDA

8. Choro para Olga [2.21]
Francis HIME

11. Passaredo [2.22]
Anibal Augusto SARDINAH "GAROTO"

12. Lamentos do Morro [4.12]
Raphael Rabello, guitar.
rec. Sept 1994 at Penguin Recording, Eagle Rock CA
GSP RECORDINGS GSP 1010 CD [42.51]


The observation that in life "the only constant thing is change" is paradoxically also true in the world of music - for many a vital part of life! The guitar and those genres in which it exists are prime examples of this change.

Flamenco guitar is in a state of dynamic flux and within a few decades has evolved from being predominantly an instrument of accompaniment to one of sophisticated solo status. Modern champions such as Paco de Lucia have not only refined and developed technique but infused within traditional flamenco elements of modern music, especially jazz.

In Brazil, violão Brasileiro, the guitar style that encompasses the classical guitar tradition, popular and Brazilian folk music, has been revived and extended by Raphael Rabello, the guitarist featured on this new disc from GSP. His influence on the Brazilian guitar has been compared to that of Paco de Lucia on flamenco. Rio’s Jornal do Brasil called him the re-inventor of the Brazilian guitar and attributed to him a contribution of new energy paralleling that which emanated from Baden Powell during the bossa nova era.

Raphael Rabello was born in 1962 in Petropolis, the old imperial capital in the mountains above Rio de Janeiro. He studied with Dino Meira (Jaime Tomás Florence) who was also a teacher of Baden Powell.

At the behest of Herminio Bello de Carvalho, who also later produced two of his discs, Raphael made a first television appearance when he was only 13 years old. At this stage he was known as Raphael Sete Cordas (Seven-String Raphael) because of his mastery of the 7-string guitar - an instrument that is central to the choro.

Most of the music heard on this disc is drawn from the choro tradition. The etymological roots of the word ‘choro’ appears unclear; one opinion centres on derivation from the Portuguese "chorar" (to weep) on account of the plangent vibrato on the higher strings; another opinion has it deriving from the African word "Xôlo" which means a vocal concert. In current parlance ‘choro’ can either mean the instrumental ensemble per se or the occasion/session in which the musicians get together to play.

At the end of the 19th century the word ‘choro’ was yet unknown to such sessions; participants would play gavottes, polkas, mazurkas and waltzes without rhythmic accompaniment as this was only added later and invariably discreetly. Slowly all such music played in the Brazilian spirit (viz. in syncopated rhythm and with most compositions being in 2/4 time) came to be known as ‘choro’.

In Brazil the choro is in itself a classical form of popular music such is the instrumental difficulty both in solos and accompaniment. It further qualifies on account of the highly developed form evident in compositions such as Agustin Barrios’ "Choro da Saudade" or João Pernambuco’s "Choros".

Heitor Villa-Lobos, himself a Chorão, (a choros-player) once said of Pernambuco: "Bach would not have been ashamed to sign his studies". Probably the greatest homage to this kind of music was made by Villa-Lobos who composed a striking series of choros, the first of which was for guitar.

But Raphael Rabello was not merely a choro specialist. In his very first LP he included music by Jobim, Barrios and Garoto. Although Rabello never abandoned the choro he quickly moved on to modernize his guitaristic approach to "Brazilian Popular Music"(MPB) - more closely linked to the samba.

The five original choros by Rabello (one in collaboration with Toquinho) on this disc testify to his mastery of the form and in themselves are an important contribution to the genre.

Also on this disc are older works by Pixinguinha and João dos Santos a guitarist/composer active in the 1940/1950s. Canhoto de Paraíba (Francisco Soares de Araujo b.1928) is from Recife in N-E Brazil and is well known in Rio. The pieces by Garoto and Almeida reflect a modern approach. Baden Powell demonstrates a true affinity for the choro. Probably Brazil’s best-known guitarist, his fame centres on samba and bossa nova. Passaredo is an MPB song by Francis Hime. Its popularity was established in 1976, with a rendition by the inimitable Chico Buarque.

The general quality of the music presented reminds one of the mastery which fellow Brazilian, pianist/composer Ernesto Nazareth (1865-1934) demonstrated over the waltz/tango format (Naxos 8.557687).

The crowning glory of this new disc is Rabello’s spellbinding musicianship and technical facility. While, especially in Brazil, any pronouncement of a "best guitarist" is probably short-lived, those with an understanding of the guitar and this music will be amazed.

This is a very well recorded disc due, in part, to insistence by Rabello that small microphones be placed inside his guitar for recording purposes. The one notable exception is Sete Cordas (tr. 13) in which the audio quality is appreciably different. This track was recorded during his "warm-up" period, captured by two microphones that happened to be on at the time, and fortuitously preserved. It is a hauntingly beautiful interpretation and a fitting mood to close this album; sadly Raphael Robello’s last. He died shortly after its completion.

This magnificent disc receives my highest and unreserved recommendation.

Zane Turner

 

 



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