Rick Trolsen's latest recording " Gringo Do Choro" is a beautiful collage of his New Orleans roots and his newfound "love affair" with the music of Brazil. With an exceptional lineup of cats from Rio beside him, they take the listener on a colorful journey that extends from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, down through the favelas, to the shores of Copacabana. What I find particularly amazing about the CD, is how Rick makes his trombone sound like a drum at times, at others like a human voice or even wild creatures from the jungles of the Amazon. If you're a lover of Brazilian music, this CD is a must get! And if you don't particularly care for Brazilian music, get it anyway, 'cuz it's bad!!!
Trolsen's trombone takes a trip to Rio
By Keith Spera
New Orleans Times Picayune, May 28, 2004
For 20 years, Rick Trolsen's trombone has turned up in dozens of local settings: Aboard the Delta Queen Steamboat. Funking up the New Orleans Nightcrawlers brass band and the Bonerama trombone collective. Fronting Trolsen's own jazz-rock project, Neslort. Backing Al Belletto, Harry Connick Jr., Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and dozens more.
In 2001, Trolsen journeyed to Brazil with the Nightcrawlers.There he was smitten with choro
music, and indigenous fusion of European melodies and Brazilian rhythms related to bossa nova. The following year, he and his wife returned to Brazil for a longer visit, and he collected choro sheet music and CD's. Back home he immersed himself in the material.
Last September, Trolsen again traveled to Brazil, this time to record his tribute to the country's traditional music. He and a band of Brazilians spent four days in a Rio De Janeiro studio recording "Gringo Do Choro," Trolsen's new CD. An astute student, Trolsen communicates his respect for the choro form via his democratic interaction with the Rio pick-up band throughout a program of Brazilian standards, augmented by two Trolsen originals.
In the sprightly opener, "Tico Tico no Fuba," he steps back to give the other players, especially mandolist, Henry Lentino, their turns. In "Saxophone porque choras," Trolsen defers to Guilherme Maravilhas' accordion, then locks into the percussive groove of his own "Medicine Lodge." His nimble trombone slides under and around the acoustic guitars and mandolin of "Abracando Jacare," then is featured against the backdrop of Clare Fischer's bossa nova "Pensativa."
Like New Orleans, Brazil is a melting pot of musical cultures, it's Spanish tinge intermingled with African and Caribbean influences. Trolsen and his visiting trombone are right at home in this mix.
CD Gringo do Choro - Rick Trolsen
By Tarik de Souza - renowned Brazilian music writer.
There's a gringo on the choro scene. Not to mention samba and other bossas (including the nova). A good sport, New Jersey-born, American trombonist, Rick Trolsen has incorporated the gringo nickname and named his new CD "Gringo do Choro." But don't expect macumba for the tourist. Quite the contrary. The first contact this New Orleans-based jazzman had with Brazilian music was with the signature tune "Aquarela do Brasil" (Ary Barroso), which he heard on the soundtrack of "Brazil," the intriguing film by Terry Gilliam. This initial interest increased when Rick traveled to Brazil in 2001 to play at the Free Jazz Festival with the lavish brass band, New Orleans Nightcrawlers. Next followed a 10-day vacation, during which he toured the musical polyphony of the revitalized Lapa district of downtown Rio de Janeiro. The result is this multi-faceted CD on which he gathers musicians from various sources: Henry Lentino and SÃ©rgio Krakowski, (Tira Poeira), Guilherme Maravilhas (ForroÃ§acana), Marcello GonÃ§alves (Trio Madeira Brasil), JoÃ£o Hermeto (AbraÃ§ando JacarÃ©), along with Gabriel Improta and Vitor Trope.
For those who have always considered choro to be Brazilian jazz, this CD can provide evidence for that thesis. Musical accents fuse together on tracks including the classic "Tico-tico no FubÃ¡," where a samba flavor pops up, with a touch of "maxixe" in "AbraÃ§ando JacarÃ©" or the dialogue between trombone and guitar in "Noites Cariocas," by Jacob do Bandolim.
In another Bandolim composition, "Gostosinho," Rick seems to have taken his trombone into the swaying moves of a gafieira. "Medicine Lodge" and "Goodbye My Friend", both written by Trolsen, accentuate the crossover, with afro-samba evident in the former and seresta in the latter. Bossa nova finds its place in "Pensativa," by Clare Fischer, another American insider, arranger for JoÃ£o Gilberto, and guitar partner of Helio Delmiro. As for the megaclassic "Chega de Saudade," although it has turned out to be ground zero for Bossa Nova, it is a hybrid of choro and bossa.
Rick Trolsen has also penetrated the melancholy of the samba in contemplative themes such as "Folhas Secas" and "TrÃªs Apitos," in addition to refining an instrumental classic somewhat forgotten, even by Brazilians, "Saxofone porque choras" by Severino Rangel, the Ratinho from the musical/comedy duo Jararaca e Ratinho. Faithful to the Carnival spirit that is the bridge between the two cities, New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro (where Rick chose to record this CD to capture the ambience), "Gringo do Choro" ends up in exuberant jubilation. A devilish medley joins together two sambas of planetary success, "Tristeza" and "Aquarela do Brasil" itself, the wellspring of this whole project. Filled with intense percussion and lush strings, Trolsen's horns simultaneously inject vivacity, wonder and peculiarity into these well known themes. Quite a major accomplishment. A testament that this Brazilianist really got it and on top of that added his personal virtuose touch.
Gringo Do Choro
When trombonist Rick Trolsen went to Rio de Janeiro in 2001 to perform as a member of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers brass band he fell in love. His complete infatuation with choro music and the works of composer Pixinguinha eventually led to the recording of this album in Rio with Brazilian artists. It's easy to understand why a musician who is in tune with brass bands would be drawn to this music. It shares the celebratory, of-the-people, danceable qualities with the New Orleans style. There is something so refreshing in the combination of Trolsen's big horn and the light fleetness of the guitar and mandolin. The accordion adds yet another tasty flavor. Trolsen wisely opens the disc with the familiar "Tico Tico Fuba," certainly the most recognizable song to a wide audience. After a percussive intro, the trombonist clearly states the melody however its scope is soon broadened with exemplary improvisation. Obviously, Trolsen, a hugely talented trombonist in any setting, surrounded himself with excellent technicians who, like himself, are game to fly. He offers two Pixinguinha compositions including the unusually but satisfyingly staggered stepped "Cheguei" that wonderfully turns frivolous. There are quiet moments as well as on the lovely "Pensativa." Again, the warm tone of Trolsen's trombone makes a fine companion for the strum of strings. Though the trombone is at the forefront throughout the album, it never takes advantage of its greater power. Trolsen's two originals are like-minded with the material on the disc with "Medicine Lodge" incorporating an interesting Native American feel. On the final cut, we stand at the edge of the rainforest with drums beating and seemingly animals and insects surrounding us before heading to the more hospitable climes of the well-known strains of "Tristeza/Aquarela do Brasil." The wonderful feel, musicianship and spirited attitude of Gringo Do Choro opens it up to music lovers of many styles.
-Geraldine Wyckoff - Independent Writer
"Gringo Do Choro"
In recent times a small community of New Orleanians have released Brazilian music on CD. Vocalist Katrina Geenen, the WWOZ DJ who's brought us a welcome Saturday blast of Brazilian music for over 20 years, released "High and Low," a well-received collaboration with Brazilian songwriters. The outstanding saxophonist/flutist Ray Moore has successfully fused Brazilian and American repertoire on CDs like "Brazilliance" and "Rio Orleans."
Now comes Rick Trolsen with a most unusual album. A virtuoso trombonist, he's played over the years on many projects (The New Orleans Nightcrawlers, Bonerama, Naked on the Floor) and led his own jazz-rock group, Neslort. In 2001 he visited Rio de Janeiro with the Crawlers;totally smitten, he began immersing himself in the Carioca musical culture.
In 2003, on his third visit to Rio, Trolsen recorded this album of instrumentals.
For listeners unfamiliar with Brazilian music outside of Antonio Carlos Jobim, this is not a bad place to start. Choro dates back to the 1870s, and it equates roughly to our ragtime and traditional jazz: an early fusion of European form and harmony with African rhythm but a genre which is still very vibrant today. A typical band in the idiom features pandeiro (like our tambourine), seven-string guitar playing bass lines, bandolim (mandolin), cavaquinho (like our ukelele, but played much more seriously), with a clarinet, sax, flute and/or trombone playing lead
(Trolsen adheres to this formula, adding a bass drum and accordion).
This CD touches a lot of bases with works by Choro masters Pixinguinha and Jacob do Bandolim, a couple sambas (a form which grew out of choro), one Jobim bossa nova masterpiece ("Chega de Saudade"), and a couple jazzy originals. While much of the album sounds like one of the better choro bands you'd hear in Brazil, Trolsen adds non-traditional intros and codas that come more from the modern jazz world than Rio circa l930. There are brilliant snatches of string soloing here, but the lion's share of the
playing and improvising goes to Trolsen, whose bravura performance shows both his mastery of the idiom and an original approach. Or as the Brazilian liner-note writer put it, his "vivacity, wonder and peculiarity." A
breakthrough album, "Gringo Do Choro" may be the most satisfying collaboration ever between New Orleans and Brazilian musicians.
Largely self-taught, Rick began playing trombone at the age of twelve. After studying with Phil Wilson at Berklee College of Music, he volunteered three years of duty with the U.S. Navy Band, stationed in New Orleans. Upon his "discharge" he quickly fell into good company, and was adopted as a regular call sideman in town. From 1991 to 1998 he led the jazz/rock group "Neslort" as a vehicle for his original compositions. A perennial favorite for 4 consecutive years at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, "Neslort" featured some of the finest musicians in town, and has recorded 2 CD's. His latest release, Gringo Do Choro was Recorded in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and features primarily Choro music from the early part of the 20th century, with a few Bossa's and Samba's thrown in.
As a freelance trombonist Rick has enjoyed featured performances with all walks of the local music life, and has proved Rick to be versatile and at ease with contemporary and traditional jazz, blues, big bands, avante garde.
Performances and/or recordings include Al Grey, Al Hirt,
Allen Toussaint, Aretha Franklin, Barry Manilow, Bob Hope, Boz Scaggs, The CAC Jazz Orchestra, Clarence"Gatemouth" Brown, The Broadway show "Chicago", Dr.John, Doc Severinsen, The Dukes of Dixieland, Earl King, Ellis Marsalis, The Four Tops, George Gruntz,Harry Connick Jr., Henry Mancini, Johnny Adams, Johnny Cash, The O'Jays, Phish, Rosemary Clooney, Stan Musial, Steve Allen, The Temptations, The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, The Woody Herman Band, (as well as many gigs he'd rather not mention.)
Musicians for Music Louisiana Jazz Composers Award and Grant 1993
Southern Arts Jazz Federation Jazz South Radio. Selected to appear on two compilation CD's and to be interviewed on their internationally syndicated radio broadcasts in recognition of the recording's Mother's Call (1995) and Martian Circus Waltz (1998)
Offbeat Magazine's Awards recipient 1998
New Orleans Magazine's Jazz All Star 1998
Adjunct instructor University of New Orleans 1998
Some Notable Performances Abroad
Nottoden Blues Festival, Nottoden, Norway
North Sea Jazz Festival, The Hague, Netherlands
Istanbul Jazz Festival, Istanbul, Turkey
Free Jazz, Rio De Janeiro / Sao Paulo Brasil
Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, Quebec
International Jazz Festival, Sandviken, Sweden
Storyville Jazz Club, Helsinki, Finland
U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
The Barbican Center, London, England
Numerous performances in Paris, France
Montreaux Jazz Festival, Montreaux, Switzerland
Faschnat, Basel, Switzerland
As a Sideman:
Bobby Parker..........."Bent Out of Shape" .....Black Top Records BT-1086 1993
Earl King......"Hard River to Cross"............... Black Top Records BT-1090 1993
Big Joe and the Dynaflows............"Layin' in the Alley" .....Black Top Records BT-1098 1994
Carol Fran & Clarence Holliman........."See There"......Black Top Records BT 1100 1994
Solomon Burke ......."Live at the House of Blues".......Black Top Records BT-1108 1994
Barry Manilow....."Singin' with the Big Bands"...........Arista Records 18771 1994
Snooks Eaglin......."Soul's Edge"........Black Top Records BT 1112 1995
Tommy Ridgley..........."Since The Blues Began" .........Black Top Records BT-1115 1995
Phillip Walker............."Working Girl Blues" ..........Black Top Records BT-1117 1995
Bobby Parker..........."Shine Me Up" .....Black Top Records BT-1119 1995
Robert Ward..........."Black Bottom" .....Black Top Records BT-1123 1995
Sonny Landreth....."South of I-10" .......Zoo/Volcano Records 31070 1995
The New Orleans C.A.C. Jazz Orchestra
with Johnny Adams, Germaine Bazzle & George French
"Mood Indigo" .......Rounder RecordsCD 2145 1997
Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown........"Gate Swings" .......Verve 314537617-2 1997
The New Orleans Nightcrawlers........."Funknicity" ..........Rounder Records CD 2154 1997
The Al Belletto Big Jazz Band........."Jazznochracy" ......Louisiana Red Hot Records 1101 1997
Guitar Shorty........."Roll Over, Baby"...... Black Top Records BT-1147 1998
Al Grey...."Echoes of New Orleans" ...Progressive Records PCD-7108 1998
Tom McDermott ........."Louisianthology" ........STR Digital 9803 1999
The New Orleans Nightcrawlers..."Live at the Old Point" ....Viper Records 2000
Bonerama..."Live at the Old Point"...2000
The Naked Orchestra..."Brief Repairs On The Gradually Unravelling Spool In The Sense Continuum"
Naked Orchestra Records 2000
The John Mahoney Big Band...."In From Somewhere" Independent 2001
Naked On The Floor....."Naked on the Floor" ....Valid Records VR-1010 2002
Woodenhead ........"Perseverence".......Free Electric Records 4003 2003
Tim Laughlin..."The Isle of Orleans"....Gentilly Records GR172 2003
Brasilliance!........"Minha Joia"......Independent 2003
Dr. John......"N'Awlinz-Disdat or D'udda"........EMI Records 7243 5 78602 2 2 2004
As a leader:
Neslort............"Mother's Call" ........Lort Records 001 1993
Neslort............."Martian Circus Waltz" ............Lort Records 002 1996
Rick Trolsen......"Gringo Do Choro"....Lort Records 0401 2004