Performance Thursday, November 29, 2012 | 8:30 PM

Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno
Nicolas Krassik and Cordestinos with Friends

Music from Northeastern Brazil

Zankel Hall
In this double-bill, legendary flutist and improviser Carlos Malta brings Pife Muderno to play traditional flute and drum music, while Cordestinos—led by virtuoso violinist Nicolas Krassik—celebrates lively folk and contemporary musical trends with several surprise guests.

En este concierto doble, el flautista legendario e improvisador Carlos Malta presenta a Pife Muderno, también flautista e intérprete de la música tradicional de tambor. Por su parte, Cordestinos—dirigido por el virtuoso violinista Nicolas Krassik—ofrece una muestra de las tendencias contemporáneas musicales más animadas y populares acompañado de varios músicos invitados sorpresa.

Neste programa duplo, o flautista e improvisador lendário Carlos Malta traz Pife Muderno para tocar flauta e tambores tradicionais, enquanto que Cordestinos—regidos pelo gênio violinista Nicolas Krassik—celebram tendências musicais folclóricas e contemporâneas com vários convidados surpresa.


  • Pife Muderno
    ·· Carlos Malta, Pifes, Flutes, Soprano Saxophone, and Musical Direction
    ·· Andrea Ernest Dias, Pifes and Flutes
    ·· Marcos Suzano, Pandeiro
    ·· Bernardo Aguiar, Pandeiro
    ·· Durval Pereira, Zabumba and Pandeiro
    ·· Oscar Bolão, Cymbals, Triangle, and Pandeiro
  • Nicolas Krassik and Cordestinos
    ·· Nicolas Krassik, Violin and Rabeca
    ·· Marcos Moletta, Rabeca
    ·· Guto Wirtti, Electric Bass
    ·· Chris Mourão, Percussion
    ·· Carlos César, Percussion
  • with Special Guest Gilberto Gil


  • Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno

    Celebrating their 18th anniversary, Latin Grammy-nominated Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno perform their debut concert at Carnegie Hall this evening, coinciding with the release of a live recording of their September 2011 concert in Beijing at the Forbidden City Concert Hall.

    Carlos Malta is a self-taught Brazilian musician, composer, arranger, producer, and music educator. His knowledge of wind instruments has earned him the nickname "Sculptor of the Wind." Malta started his career at the age of 18 and has since performed with many renowned Brazilian musicians, including 12 years with Hermeto Pascoal .

    In 1994, Malta founded Pife Muderno, which produces a unique fusion of Brazilian popular rhythms, folk music, and contemporary jazz. The sound produced through small holes in bamboo reflects the rich tones of the typical pife flute from Brazil's Northeastern region. Bamboo flutes from other countries-such as the bansuri (India) and the dizi (China)-add a hint of universalism to the ensemble's sound. Harmony and percussion complete the "voicing" of this instrumental band that sweeps audiences with its vibrant energy.

    The band's repertoire combines a mixture of new interpretations of traditional pieces from acclaimed Brazilian composers, including Edu Lobo, and original songs written by Malta himself. Pife Muderno has recently performed concerts with symphony orchestras, at jazz festivals in New Orleans and Morocco, and at Rock in Rio 3, among others. They have incorporated a variety of sounds using their versatile musical vocabulary, from the tribal to the experimental.

    One of the greatest expressionists in the current Brazilian music scene, Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno have been presented in Brazil, the US, Venezuela, Japan, Morocco, and France. The virtuoso musicians of Pife Muderno are some of the most important names in Brazilian music today. They are led by Malta, whose musical direction fearlessly takes the group into new and amazing directions with each groundbreaking performance.

    More Info


Carlos Malta, Flute | Pife Muderno, Percussion

Fernando González on Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno / Nicolas Krassik and Cordestinos

Living traditions are renewed by various means. It might be a technological development, perhaps some social and economic changes, or maybe the appearance of some extraordinary figure than jolts the old ways forward.

Such are the cases of Brazilian reedman Carlos Malta, a master of the flute family, and French-born violinist Nicolas Krassik. Both found their voices working with Brazilian music traditions after traveling circuitous paths. Malta, a self-taught player, served an apprenticeship with brilliant multi-instrumentalist, composer, and bandleader Hermeto Pascoal—one of the most creative and adventurous figures in Brazilian music. The classically trained Krassik explored jazz, working with figures such as the late pianist Michel Petrucciani and violinist Didier Lockwood, before following his love for Brazilian music all the way to Rio de Janeiro in 2001.

Malta's Pife Muderno ("modern fife") updates the banda de pífanos, a popular tradition in Brazil's Northeast. Malta was intrigued when he heard the Banda de Pífanos de Caruaru in a recording by Brazilian singer and songwriter Gilberto Gil. Malta was 12—and he was hooked.

"I was just beginning to play flute at the time and my references were from rock 'n' roll—Jethro Tull or Thijs Van Leer from [Dutch rock group] Focus," recalls Malta in conversation from Rio. "And I knew refined flutists like Altamiro Carrilho, Copinha [Nicolino Cópia] or Hermeto Pascoal. But the tocadores de pífano ("fife players") were at the root of the Brazilian flute."

From 1981 to 1993, Malta played a dazzling array of flutes and saxophones in Pascoal's explosive avant-pop-jazz ensemble. Then, in 1994, Malta formed Pife Muderno. The group featured two fife and flute players and three percussionists on handheld instruments. It was "a statement," he says. "It was a return to simple melodies—a different challenge. For 12 years, I had been playing the most intriguing, most difficult melodies on all the instruments I know. The challenge for me was to go back to simplicity and make sophisticated music through the way we played, not the compositions. We don't play bebop or jazz, but we improvise. We play tribal melodies. We take a child's approach. We have fun and want the audience to have fun. "

But even that is only part of the story. To make his point, Malta recalls how a group of rockers that heard the band stopped by the dressing room after the show. "And I remember one of them saying 'Man, this is the first time I've seen a rock 'n' roll group without a guitar, a bass, or set of drums,'" recalls Malta with a chuckle. "And I know what he meant. It's the spirit."

Meanwhile, Krassik was a jazzman on stage, "but at home, I just listened to MPB," writes the violinist from his home in Rio, citing the Portuguese acronym for Brazilian popular music. "I just fell in love with it and started looking for Brazilian places to listen to music and dance. That's also how I found capoeira, the Brazilian martial art I practiced for five years."

Krassik started by playing choro—a fast, bright, urban style that features improvisation—and samba. ("Knowing how to improvise was very helpful," he notes.) But he became especially interested in forró—the festive, traditional style from Brazil's Northeast that he will be playing tonight.

Since the night he arrived—just in time for a choro festival—Krassik impressed his Brazilian colleagues with his technique, swing, and understanding of Brazilian music. He has since collaborated with both established figures and members of a younger generation of Brazilian musicians.

"He started to create a violin school that had never existed in Brazil," says virtuoso guitarist Yamandú Costa in a video featured on Krassik's website. "He managed to make [Brazilian] music part of his soul." His arrival, says Costa, "is a gift for Brazilian music." In the same video, singer-songwriter Beth Carvalho—a historic, essential  sambista—introduces Krassik as "the most Brazilian Frenchman I've ever met."

Krassik notes that he was "very influenced by the mandolin and the accordion. The mandolin has the same tuning as the violin, and the accordion is very important in forró. The discovery of the rabeca—a violin from the Northeast, more rustic, less perfectwas also very important to me."

He says Malta and Pife Muderno were "an inspiration" in organizing a group that blends tradition and modernity. Krassik's own Cordestinos features violin, rabeca, bass, and two percussionists.

"There is not much violin tradition [in forró], but there is more of it with the rabeca," he explains. "Playing rabeca helped me a lot to get the swing of forró. But the way we play is a little different; we have influences from jazz, rock, and many other genres. We improvise a lot. Our music is not very traditional."

Yet the tradition continues to live and evolve—a reason why Krassik has been called "another contributor in the renovation of the genres" (O Globo, Rio).

—Fernando González is an independent music writer and critic whose work appears regularly in The Miami Herald, JazzTimes, and The International Review of Music.


Carlos Malta and Pife Muderno Perform "Mulher Rendeira" from O Cangaceiro.

Introducing Nicolas Krassik: A French Violinist in Brazil.

Osvaldo Golijov on the Global Influence of Latin American Music.

Latin American Music and Artists at Carnegie Hall: From the Carnegie Hall Archives.

Lead funding for Voices from Latin America is provided by grants from the Ford Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Sponsored, in part, by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mercantil Servicios Financieros.

Public support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York.
This performance is part of Off the Beaten Track, and Voices from Brazil.

Part of