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Guitarist Roberto Basa conducts a Brazilian Choro Masterclass

by Patrick Roxas

“One of the main differences between jazz musicians and classical musicians is that jazz musicians have the capacity to compose on the spot.” This was a “spot-on” statement of Robert Basa, a visiting musician from California, who specializes in both Brazilian and Jazz guitar music when he graced the UP College of Music with an exceptional masterclass. The event was held with guitar enthusiasts at the Mini-Hall of the UP College of Music last Monday, January 22.
Bob Basa

Robert or “Bob” Basa’s masterclass was a three-hour event which was divided into two parts. The first part of mainly focused on the technique of plucking chords in the groove or manner of Brazil. Bob had with him two Brazilian choros (popular form based on improvisation) entitled Mistura e manda by Nelson Alvez and Descendo a serra by Pixinguinha and Benedicto Lacerda. He used these pieces to demonstrate Brazilian style, asking each guitar students, one by one, to listen and try to create melodic lines within the given structure and framework of the two pieces. This impressively involved creativity and innovation on incorporating melodic lines in between the transition of chords resulting to an exquisite and pleasing accompaniment.

The second part was all about jazz this time but in the context of incorporating jazz chords in improvisation; he demonstrated this by performing songs like: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland and “Belle” from The Beauty and the Beast in the genre of jazz and involving improvisation of harmony and melodic content. His best encouragement for the guitar students and enthusiasts was to think like a piano player to be able to play excellent jazz guitar music, even though there are a lot of limitations in the guitar compared to the piano.

Bob Basa

Bob Basa is truly a master of his gift and craft who truly continues to inspire guitar players and enthusiasts. In addition, Brazalian and Jazz guitar concepts taught in the masterclass will be valuable to the guitar students of the College of Music as some of the classical guitar repertoire they are playing today such as the works of Villalobos, Bellinati and York used Brazalian and Jazz materials.

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