Tom McDermott jazzes up timeless Brazilian choros

As a disciple of traditional jazz and ragtime, local pianist Tom McDermott is accustomed to advocating music at pop culture’s margins.

So he was pleasantly surprised on a trip to Brazil to learn that that country’s indigenous choro music — like American jazz and ragtime, its roots reach back more than a century — is still considered a vital genre.

“If you go outside New Orleans, trad jazz is pretty much old people’s music,” McDermott said. “It’s not been hip to like that music for a long time. But it’s OK to be into choro in Brazil. This is a music form that goes back to the 1870s, but choro is still being written and performed by young people, and young people enjoy it.

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