When people think of Brazilian music, the first thing that comes to mind is bossa nova. But Ted Falcon (violin, mandolin) fell in love with a different style of Brazilian music called “choro.” He not only became a devotee of the music, but he also pushed its musical boundaries. Instrumentation for choro bands usually consists of either a flute, mandolin, clarinet or saxophone as the lead instrument and the cavaquinho (a small, four string guitar), guitars and pandeiro (a hand drum) as accompaniment instruments, but he introduced the violin to the mix and is now often regarded as the lead exponent within the genre. ‘Tô Chegando’ (‘Almost There’) is his eleventh album and was recorded in São Paulo, Brazil, and Los Angeles with two different bands. The São Paulo band feature on four of the 14 tracks and consists of Zé Barbeiro (guitar), Fabricio Rosil (cavaquinho), and Léo Rodrigues (pandeiro, percussion). The other 10 songs were recorded by the L.A. musicians of Colin Walker (7-string guitar), Wesley Amorim (7-string guitar, cavaquinho, gypsy jazz guitar), John Leftwich (acoustic bass), Anat Cohen (clarinet), Clarice Cast (pandeiro, percussion), Ben Rempel (pandeiro, percussion), Douglas Lora (7-string guitar), Catherine Bent (cello), Rumi Inoue (flute), and Fay Roberts (flute).

I have heard quite a lot of bossa nova over the years, but this is the first time I have come across choro, and what fascinated me is just how danceable this sounds. One of my daughters was an accomplished Latin dancer at one point, so I used to listen to a great deal of that style of music, and while I know I would fail (this boy has no rhythm) I can imagine her having a kick listening and reacting to this. I don’t know why, but it feels like street music, and I know it has now relationship whatsoever with Quintette du Hot Club de France there is something about the way Falcon’s jazz violin mixes with the instruments and accompaniments that reminds me somewhat of Stéphane Grappelli. There is something incredibly infectious and vibrant about this, with melodies and themes being returned to, and a real life in everything that is going on. Perfect for a sultry Summer’s evening.

Rating: 8/10