Before the Bossa Nova craze in the 1960s, and even before Samba became popular, there was a type of music in Brazil called Choro (pronounced “SHOW-doo”). Like its closest North American equivalents of ragtime and Dixieland jazz, Choro music is a blend of European and African influences, and from the late 1800s until the 1930s this lively instrumental musical genre native to Rio de Janeiro reigned supreme. Throughout the 1900s many other styles of music developed and became more popular throughout Brazil, but in the last few decades Choro has gained more momentum, appreciating a well-deserved rebirth and spreading quickly among adventurous musicians and curious audiences all over the world.
Choro Borealis is a recently-formed trio of three Midwesterners with a long-running deeply rooted passion for Brazilian music: Robert Everest on 7-string guitar, cavaquinho (a steel-string cousin of the ukulele), and occasionally vocals and percussion; Pat O’Keefe on Bb Clarinet, bass clarinet, and percussion; and Tim O’Keefe on mandolin, cavaquinho, and percussion. The magic of the group is in the playful rotation of instruments. For one number Tim and Pat take turns on the melody and solos while Robert plays bass-lines on the low strings. On the next tune Robert might play the cavaquinho and sing in fluent Portuguese while Tim plays percussion and Pat covers the lower range on bass clarinet. All three also compose and arrange music in their repertoire, which includes many Choro favorites easily recognized by any Brazilian or Brazilian music connoisseur. One thing that makes this trio so engaging is the far-reaching musical endeavors and broad palettte of all three members, each with a unique musical background.