Krannert Center limitless ELLNORA 2019 in review

Spending a Saturday afternoon with the Danilo Brito Quartet was the next best thing to time traveling back to a café in 1920s Rio de Janeiro. It was a celebration of choro, a style of music often known as the New Orleans jazz of Brazil because of its complexity and highly improvisational nature. As Brito explained via translator, choro is both delicate and strong. Its magic lies within this tension. The word choro literally means to cry, and the music that the Danilo Brito Quartet performed was some of the most soulful and romantic music I’ve ever experienced, while delivering breathtakingly athletic string performances. A quartet of this tradition relies on rapport to navigate between solos, improvisation, and the dialogue between melody and counterpoint. The Danilo Brito Quartet had the easy banter of friends and this spilled out to the audience, despite the language barrier. Their set was dizzying and sexy and as heart-opening as series of yoga backbends. Brito is as gifted a composer as he is a master of mandolin. His contributions to the ongoing conversation of choro is significant. If you missed the Quartet’s two sets, find them online. You won’t be sorry.

Looking up from the club-style seating at these ambassadors of good will, great music, and rich cultural history, I was reminded of the power of an international music festival. Choro played in one hall while jazz traditions from other nations played next door. Music has the power to bring us together despite our apparent differences. Thank you, ELLNORA, for continuing to create a space for this to happen.