In describing the music that made up the third song in an exquisite 75 minute set last night at the Downtown Arts Center, Trio Brasileiro guitarist Douglas Lora used the tags “beautiful” and “uplifting.”
True to form, the resulting Sarue Bengala, a composition by the trio’s bandolim (mandolin) player Dudu Maia, lived up to the billing. It was a ballet of summery string melodies played at lightning speed, although the music that shot forth from the tune never sounded hurried.
The thing was, however, that just about everything the trio delved into was beautiful and uplifting. Devoted to the traditional Brazilian music known as choro, Trio Brasileiro constructed tunes that utilized bandolim as its primary lead instrument. In doing so, Maia played leads that were rapid, darting and exact in execution yet light and immensely lyrical in tone. Lora’s playing on 7-string guitar filled the bass role at several intervals while supplying countermelodies to Maia’s instrumentation at others. The guitarist’s brother, Alexandre Lora, supplied subtle percussion on the tambourine-like pandeiro.
At times, the trio’s melodies bordered on comparatively contemporary bossa nova rhythms, as on Perigoso. There were also occasions where the music subsided into classical pizzicato runs, as during the light but wildly intricate dual guitar and bandolim lines near the conclusion of Choro Pra Je. And for Tico-Tico No Fuba, the trio flirted with folk melodies for exchanges that were continually playful.
The bulk of the repertoire came from Trio Brasileiro’s debut album Simples Assim, a live studio recording cut last year in Brazil. The title, roughly translated, means “it’s that simple.” Along with a few tunes from a forthcoming collaborative record with the fine Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen, the trio indeed made all of its music seem simple, even though the warp speed string melodies were anything but that. Still, judging by the abundant smiles that regularly beamed from the faces of the three players during this final performance of its North American tour, choro music wasn’t exactly a chore, either.