Special Projects and Ensembles

New School Brazilian Music Ensembles

New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble at "Pixinguinha and Contemporaries" debut performance.

Richard Boukas has been a vanguard Jazz and Brazilian music educator for more than thirty-five years.

His numerous artist residencies in North America and Brazil have presented Brazilian music in all its facets:

• exposure to the rich diversity of repertoire, regional genres and their relationship and influence upon American jazz, popular and classical/chamber music traditions;
• hands-on ensembles with students implementing essential elements of instrumental, vocal performance practice;
• comprehensive historical perspective on the development of Brazilian guitar, both as a solo and accompanimental instrument.
• in-depth theoretical analyses and transcriptions of contemporary Brazilian composers including Hermeto Pascoal and Guinga.
• efficient methods for vocalists interested in singing Brazilian repertoire in Portuguese.

A frequent guest clinician and performer at educational and professional conferences including the former IAJE (Int'l Assoc. for Jazz Education, now JEN, Jazz Education Network) and CMA (Chamber Music America), Boukas spearheaded the first IAJE Resource Chair in Brazilian Music in 2001. His numerous articles in publications including Just Jazz Guitar and Acoustic Guitar gave overdue exposure to master guitarist-composers in the context of the various genres they championed. 

Brazilian Choro Ensemble

Of all the diverse Brazilian genres Boukas has performed, conducted research, written about and taught, it is probably Choro, Brazil's unique popular form of virtuoso instrumental music, which has engaged his energies most intensively. An offshoot of the New School Brazilian Jazz Ensemble, in 2008 he founded the New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble– recognized to date as the only dedicated Brazilian Choro ensemble in universities throughout North America.  The group features an historical collection of repertoire of over
fifty pieces, dating from Choro's seminal nationalist composers Ernesto Nazareth and Anacleto de Medeiros to twentieth century masters Pixinguinha, Jacob do Bandolim, Garôto and Radamés Gnattali, to contemporary masters Hermeto Pascoal, Guinga and Mário Laginha (Portugal). The ensemble eliminates any preconceived walls between traditional classical chamber music and Choro.

In the Brazilian Choro EnsembleBoukas uses his authoritative transcriptions and distillations of choro performance practice as vehicles for teaching its manifold subtleties and intrinsically contrapuntal nature. Instruments most commonly associated with choro are learned by the students as part of their ensemble duties.The instrumentation is: three guitars (combination of six and seven-string, cavaquinho), three woodwinds with extensive doubling, five-string electric bass and drums/percussion (including pandeiro). Boukas is a performing member of the ensemble, setting the high level of professionalism and work ethic essential to performing this repertoire with polish and authenticity.



Pixinguinha and Contemporaries

In December 2014, the acoustic ensemble premiered PIXINGUINHA AND CONTEMPORARIESan ambitious program featuring sixteen Boukas arrangements of works by Pixinguinha and other central choro composers. The program received two debut performances: at New School Jazz and Mannes College Recital Hall. Visit the dedicated Pixinguinha and Contemporaries page which includes complete concert video, recordings, program notes,and scholarly resources.

Track #1 on the audio player is:

Ainda Me Recordo by Pixinguinha
performed by New School Brazilian Choro Ensemble

Track #2 is "Viajando Pelo Brasil" by Hermeto Pascoal
performed by New School Brazilian Jazz Ensemble

arrangements by Richard Boukas

For more audio and video of ensemble performances, visit their dedicated page links above.


Brazilian Jazz Ensemble

At the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City where he has been faculty since 1989, Boukas formed the school's first Brazilian Jazz Ensemble in 1995. The group's challenging repertoire features the works of Hermeto Pascoal and his lineage of composers: Jovino Santos Neto, Itiberê Zwarg, André Marquesand other brilliant composers including Guinga, Sérgio Santos and Mário Laginha

The main source material for Boukas's arrangements are authoritative scores donated by the composers and his meticulous group transcriptions of landmark recordings. These recordings are studied carefully by the players to assimilate fundamental vocabularies in melodic phrasing, rhythm section interaction and improvisation. The instrumentation is for two saxophones (with doubling on other woodwinds), vocalist, guitar, piano, bass and drums. To date the ensemble has over thirty pieces in its repertoire.

For video and audio excerpts, visit the group's dedicated page.

The AUDIO player on this page (Track #2) features Viajando Pelo Brasil by Hermeto Pascoal.




música mineira project

An ambitious endeavor by Boukas whose preparations of scores, arrangements and rehearsals took over five months,
música mineira is a landmark project dedicated solely to composers from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais– most notably, the city of Belo Horizonte. Featuring classic repertoire by legendary composers Ary Barroso, Milton Nascimento, Toninho Horta, Sérgio Santos and João Bosco, the project was premiered as part of New School Jazz's "Jazz Presents" Series.

Boukas chose a repertoire of twenty pieces for the concert, and selected a stellar group comprised of guest Brazilian musicians, New School Jazz faculty, current New School Jazz students and alumni, and New School Jazz's first two Brazilian exchange students from Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG). In a sense, the project was as much a celebration of this exciting new alliance as a presentation of repertoire rarely performed outside of Minas Gerais.  See more below about the
New School Jazz / UFMG Exchange Program.

For more information about música mineira project including eight live audio tracks, Boukas's program notes, Foreword by heralded composer Sérgio Santos, visit the project's dedicated page.

Listen to Boukas Brazilian Choral Arrangements featuring Sérgio Santos compostions.