Ernesto Nazareth - Rare Works

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By Jack Rummel

Ernesto Nazareth - Rare Works

Alexandre Dias, piano

(Choro Music records, no number)

Cuéra / Encantador / Cruz, Perigo! / Orminda / Succolento / Paulicéa, como és Formosa ! / Podia ser Pior / Phantastica / Soberano / Furinga / Catrapuz / Proeminente / Hespañolita / Ramirinho.

The times they are a-changing – again.  This naked CD arrived in my mailbox as a gift from Frank French, himself a champion of Latin music, with the suggestion that I review it.  Having a passing familiarity with the great Brazilian composer, Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934) who was a contemporary of Scott Joplin, I knew that any recording recommended by French – and by Tom McDermott, who has also immersed himself in the music of Brazil – deserved to be heard.

Alexandre Dias is a young pianist from Brasília who has been researching the works of Nazareth since 1999 with emphasis on his unpublished compositions.  Recently he has vowed to record all 212 of Nazareth ’s tangos, polkas, waltzes and other creations, and this CD, of all-unpublished pieces, is the first of what may be a lengthy commitment.

The change I am referring to is in the method of distribution.  This collection does not exist in CD format – yet.  Instead, interested purchasers are invited to visit a website where any of the 14 tracks may be downloaded (individually or as a package) as MP3 files and either transferred to your computer, your iPod or to a blank CD.

What’s missing is a physical package.  There’s no jewel box, no title, no artwork and no liner notes, but you are free to create them yourself.  Some background information is available on the website and most computers have graphic packages.

The music, however, is wonderful.  Dias has an impeccable touch and an inborn sense of the rhythms.  The recorded sound is intimate, his dynamics are well chosen and his use of rubato is just right.  The result is the equal of any previous Nazareth recordings I have heard and, in some instances, perhaps better.  There is much variety, as the English translations of the titles will attest (“Hotshot,” “Enchanting,” “Juicy,” “It could be worse,” and “Sovereign,” to name a few).

The works of Nazareth have been embraced by many ragtime performers because of their extended use of syncopation as well as their inherent musicality.  Now, suddenly, there are 14 more pieces to explore (the accompanying sheet music will soon be available for download).  Will this become the future of music availability?  Are CDs an endangered species?  No matter.  Alexandre Dias is a talented pianist and the music – with or without packaging – amply speaks for itself.  May the spirits reward him with the strength to complete his goal!

Available at <>.  Individual tracks are 99¢ each; a package of all 14 is $12.99.  Visa and PayPal are accepted.