The idea of bringing choro to New York started in 1999. Pedro Ramos, who played cavaquinho with fellow Music majors from the University of the State of São Paulo, decided to join his future wife in the United States and could not imagine life without choro. "I wanted a band with traditional format -- guitar, wind, cavaquinho and pandeiro --, playing in contemporary fashion, with improvisation and original compositions and arrangements.
"First came guitarist and journalist Paulo Trevisani. The duo got a weekly gig at Cafe Bar, in Astoria. Musicians heard there was choro in town and flocked to Queens. One was Israeli horn player Anat Cohen.
She was introduced to choro at Boston's Berklee College of Music, and after jamming with Pedro, decided to deepen the experience, bringing her swing, jazz, Latin and klezmer influences. In the Summer of 2000 they played at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
The right percussionist came around then. Zé Maurício, from Rio de Janeiro, was playing pandeiro in a trio and trying to convince the two others to experiment with choro, without luck. The band cemented their project when invited in May 2001 to play every Sunday at East Village's Jules Bistro, a jazz musicians' hangout. Weeks later, Paulo, who had a day job in New Jersey, became a father. With this, the Choro Ensemble ought to find a new guitar player.The search for a guitarist seemed to end with Gustavo Dantas, a Rio native who spent 10 years in Europe. Gustavo used his classical training to learn choro, but a girlfriend led him out of the country.
In his absence, guitarist Carlos Almeida went by Jules and found himself taken back to the past. As a teenager in the 1970s, he jammed with old choro masters in Rio. In the United States since 1987, Carlos founded Saveiro, a Brazilian band seen at Lincoln Center and Summer Stage.
Gustavo got married and back in early 2003. With the two 7-string guitars, the team was complete. By now, Anat speaks flawless Portuguese and Choro Ensemble has been a guest of Winton Marsalis and The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra in the Apollo Theater and acclaimed by Time Out magazine as one of the five best weekly gigs in New York.
On October 22, 2004, the Choro Ensemble appeared at the Carnegie Hall as a guest of the New York Pops Orchestra under the conducting of legendary Skitch Henderson. In June 21, 2006 the Choro Ensemble appeared at the JVC Jazz Festival in Manhathan, NYC.