100 Years of Jacob do Bandolim

2018 marks the 100 years of Jacob Pick Bittencourt, the most influential composer and musician on modern Choro. His virtuosity on the Brazilian mandolin, the “bandolim”,  garnered him the nickname Jacob do Bandolim. Alongside his predecessors Pixinguinha and Ernesto Nazareth, he is still considered the greatest representative on his respective instrument. 

Jacob created a style of playing that was steeped in tradition but completely new and innovative. His attention to detail and musical sophistication culminated with the creation of his group “Epoca de Ouro” which epitomizes the sound that we associate with Choro. With a unique formation of mandolin, cavaquinho, three guitars, and pandeiro, the group is responsible for the 1967 album “Vibrações” which is considered the greatest recording of Choro music ever.

Although he was a prolific composer in many styles, Jacob is best known for Samba-Choro, a style of music with all the melodic elegance and harmonic sophistication of Choro, but with the rhythmic playfulness and exuberance of Samba. Compositions like Noites Cariocas, Assanhado, and Receita de Samba are anthems of Brazilian instrumental music and some of the few Choro compositions that made their way across the globe and are performed by musicians of countless styles and backgrounds. 

Duo Violão Brasil will be celebrating the 100 years of this Brazilian master by presenting his music to students across the United States through mentorship and collaboration. Although undeniably Brazilian, Jacob’s music has a strange DNA that effortlessly translates to instruments outside of traditional choro formation, has room for improvisation, and is easily assimilated by musicians of different backgrounds, especially Jazz. Our objective is to provide students with sheet music and recordings ahead of a coaching session and rehearsal that will culminate in a collaborative performance that will feature students exploring the magic of Jacob’s music. 

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