Beguiling Choro from Danilo Brito

Brito plays music so beguiling one needn’t know anything about his homeland to be swept along.


Brito plays sophisticated stuff.

Photo by Maria Camillo

While choro isn’t nearly as well known as its younger siblings samba, forro, and bossa nova, no Brazilian musical tradition has proven as enduring and creatively resilient. With roots dating back to the 1870s, choro is a particularly beguiling instrumental style that combines European forms with Afro-Brazilian rhythms and luscious melodies.

In its exuberance, playfulness, and penchant for attracting technically jaw-dropping players, choro sometimes brings to mind bluegrass, but it’s undergone many more waves of evolution. The style was codified in the 1920s by the great saxophonist/composer Pixinguinha (1898-1973), who was also a seminal figure in samba (Brazilian musicians have often moved easily between the genres).

While the popularity of choro waxed and waned throughout the 20th century, every generation seemed to experience a choro revival, most spectacularly in the 1940s when mandolin virtuoso Jaco do Bandolim created a tremendously sophisticated body of tunes.

The 21st-century choro renaissance is being spearheaded by mandolin and tenor guitar maestro Danilo Brito, who performs at Yoshi’s March 20 with his blazing trio featuring seven-string guitarist Carlos Moura and Roberto Figuerôa on the tambourine-like pandeiro (his U.S. tour includes performances at the Savannah Music Fesitval and the Kennedy Center). A prodigy who recorded his first album at 13, he earned Brazil’s most prestigious award for instrumentalists at 19. Championed by Brazil’s greatest composers, like Guinga, and fellow mandolin explorers, like Dave Grisman and Mike Marshall, Brito has honed a highly personal choro sound. Though he was raised in the southern megacity of São Paulo, Brito’s music often references northeastern Brazilian styles redolent of Paraíba, the state from which his father hails, and the Afro-Brazilian heartland of Bahia, the state where his mother grew up.

Witty, ebullient, and heedlessly headlong, Brito plays music so beguiling one needn’t know anything about his homeland to be swept along. 

Danilo Brito, 8 p.m. March 20, Yoshi’s, $19, 510-238-9200, 


This report appears in the March edition of our sister publication, The East Bay Monthly.


Published online on March 14, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.

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