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Ebinho Cardoso & Sergio Groove

Before relocating from their native Brazil to the United States in 2011, Ebinho Cardoso and Sergio Groove were widely acknowledged for their innovative styles and technical virtuosity in the Brazilian bass community. As instructors, they have authored numerous titles in print and video formats which document their methodologies. Now residents of the Boston music scene, this acclaimed bass duo maintains a busy performance schedule and leads workshops at bass events throughout the New England area. In 2010, Cardoso and Groove formed the Elements Bass Trio, an all-bass showcase with Grant Stinnett. Released in October 2011, their self-titled collaboration features an assortment of 10 tracks composed for solo bass guitar and arrangements for bass trio.

In this interview, Cardoso and Groove discuss their background, moving to the United States, teaching, the Elements Bass Trio, and more.

Could you tell us about your background and how you got started on bass?

Ebinho Cordoso Ebinho - I started to play bass when I was 15 years old in an instrumental trio. The other two musicians, Alex Real and Joao Pedro Batalha, both the age of my parents, were very important to my development as a musician and person.

At 17 years old, I went to Brasilia to study with Nico Assumpcao, and in the following years, I had the opportunity to study with Arthur Maia, Arismar of the Holy Spirit, Jorge Helder, Jeff Andrews, Lula Galvao, Toninho Horta, and Adriano Giffoni. I also studied harmony and improvisation with Ian Guest and arranging with Leandro Braga. I had the honor to play with and share musical experiences with great student musicians who helped me visualize a career in music.

I had begun to hear from many people that my sound was different. I began to seek the meaning of my personal music, and after seven years of research, I published my book Harmony And Chord Dictionary For Electric Bass. The book opened many doors and gave me visibility in Brazil. By then, I had recorded the album Verticals and built relationships with great musicians. Through Semus, an event that brings together great musicians in the city of Cuiaba, I had the opportunity to exchange experiences with renowned musicians.

In 2007, I received an invitation to travel with Di Steffano and Arthur Maia at the project Circular Brazil and also met Celso Pixinga and Nilton Wood. They invited me to join the Cover Baixo Festival that brings together the biggest names in Brazilian bass. With this project, I traveled to almost every state in Brazil and signed contracts with companies such as Condor Music, SG, Power Click, and Pezo who began to use my image to promote their products. I began to receive invitations to teach workshops and writing in the magazines of Cover Baixo and Baixo Brasil about my research.

In 2008, I recorded two instructional DVDs. The first was titled Alternative Techniques For Bass Guitar, and the second was Practical Concepts On The Use Of Chords. Shortly after recording the album No Rastro Dos Ruidos Remotos Das Rodas Da Infancia, it was released by British label Curve Music. At the end of 2008, I received an award from the Pixinguinha Project and recorded an album with the Ebinho Cardoso Quartet. This band consisted of three great musicians including acoustic bassist Andre Vanconcellos, pianist David Feldman, and drummer Sandro Souza. I had begun to work with the top-level Brazilian musicians.

During these years, I recorded and produced a lot of people in my region. I had the opportunity to play with some of the greatest musicians in Brazil including Carlos Malta, Glautom Campelo, Renato Braz, Milton Guedes, Thiago Espirito Santo, Dario Galante, Marku Ribas, and Amoy Ribasand. In Brazil, we were building the history of world music in our country.

Sergio - My education was completely by ear. My brother wanted to form a Brazilian rock band so when I was 12 years old, he taught me to play guitar. After eight months playing in the streets, I heard a sound that delighted me, and it was the sound of the bass. I told my brother that I did not want to play the guitar anymore because I wanted to play the bass.

Which bassists have had the most influence on your playing?

Ebinho - I wasn't very influenced by bassists, but my biggest bass influences were Nico Assumpcao and Stanley Clarke.

Sergio - My early influences were Arthur Maia and Nico Assumpcao. Years later came the American influences such as Jaco Pastorius, John Patitucci, Victor Wooten, Richard Bona, and Esperanza Spalding.

Why did you decide to move from Brazil to Boston?

Ebinho - It's all part of a plan. For a long time, I've been thinking about how important it would be to my family to know another culture and learn another language. I came to Boston with the intention of expanding my horizons and building a network outside of Brazil. The person who opened the doors of Boston for me was Jim Stinnett. Jim invited me to teach classes at the New Hampshire Bass Fest in 2010 and one of his Bass Workouts in January 2011. When I got the third invitation to teach at the New Hampshire Bass Fest in 2011, I decided to stay.

Sergio - At the Sao Luis Bass Festival in 2009, I met Jim Stinnett. Jim invited me to perform at the 2010 New Hampshire Bass Fest. That performance was very successful. Everyone liked my music. I decided that when I attended the New Hampshire Bass Fest in 2011, I would come to stay. I want to spread my music and experience a new life.

Can you tell us a little about your experience as a solo bassist?

Ebinho - Solo playing for me is something both very satisfying and also very difficult. All these years researching ways to make the bass sound in unique ways gave me the ability to record music very difficult to be executed on only one track without overdubs. Three years ago, I recorded a bass and vocals album called No Rastro Dos Ruidos Remotos Das Rodas Da Infancia where I used many different sounds.

Sergio - Solo bass playing gives me a great feeling. Solo playing requires more of you and your technique. After all the hard work, you hear the results, and it is very good.

Can you provide us with some insight on your instructional books and videos?

Ebinho - I have a book published in Brazil called Harmony and Chord Dictionary For Electric Bass. In this book, I talk about chord construction, the notation process, the technique of playing, and also show an extensive chord dictionary for 6-string bass. I have an instructional DVD titled Alternative Techniques For Bass which presents the basis of my technique and demonstrates several ways of execution on our instrument.

Sergio - I am in the process of releasing new instructional videos of some of my techniques and slap grooves with percussive sounds.

Where can your recordings and videos be purchased?

Ebinho - I have a partnership with Stinnett Music, and we are constantly producing materials such as videos and CDs for music students.

Sergio - In Brazil, my older videos and recordings are available in many places, but the main store is the Free Note in Sao Paulo. Here in the United States, the distribution is directly from me. Soon they will be available from Stinnett Music's downloadable store.

Sergio Groove Could you describe your approach to developing grooves and solos?

Ebinho - In terms of groove, I always try to understand the concept of the music and feel what the song needs. I look for where I feel free to express what I mean when I improvise.

Sergio - Having no formal theoretical music education, I do not analyze much of what I play. My playing is not preconceived. I play what I hear and what feels good for the music.

As a student, what were some of the concepts that really expanded your playing and helped you develop a unique voice on the bass?

Ebinho - For me, it was learning that I did not need to imitate anyone. As I have continued to mature as a human, my music has also matured.

Sergio - I cannot describe the concepts technically. My music comes from my ear and my soul. I simply listened to great music of all kinds and tried to add a good feeling. I also use my voice as a part of my playing. Vocal percussion is what most people call my style of singing.

Do you teach privately, and if so, what are the most important aspects of music and playing bass that you try to emphasize to your students?

Ebinho - Yes, I teach private lessons. I believe the most important thing is to show students how music is special and powerful if we understand how to use it. The construction of a good musician goes through many steps such as having good technique, being a good reader, and knowing as many styles as possible.

Sergio - I also offer lessons. Some of the most important aspects that I like to work on are rhythm and pulse. Rhythm has to be strong, constant, and melodic.

What equipment are you using?

Ebinho - I endorse Condor basses. I also use a Carvin LB76. I have a Boss Loop Station RC20-XL, a Boss DC-3 Digital Dimension, a Boss RV-3 digital reverb delay, a Boss TU-2 chromatic tuner, and a Roland V-Bass with a GK-3B pickup.

Sergio - Coming to the United States recently gave me the good fortune of closing a partnership with Curt Mangan strings. I now use Mangan strings with my name on them thanks to my great partner Jim Stinnett. I'm an endorser of deOliveira basses. I play a signature 6-string MSG and a signature 4-string from Brazil. I also use a Boss RC-20XL Loop Station and an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail Plus reverb.

Are there any new projects that you are currently working on?

Ebinho - I will be releasing a new book with Jim Stinnett called Studies In Samba. We are also recording a new album. In October, Sergio, Grant Stinnett, and myself released a new project called the Elements Bass Trio.

Sergio - I'm working to launch an instructional video and a book with Stinnett Music. It will be great to share with bass players the music that I love. I am also a member of the new Elements Bass Trio. I love working with Ebinho and Grant Stinnett. We recently performed at the Chapada Jazz Festival in Chapada, Brazil as well as many concerts in the Boston area. Our first recording, Elements, features all original music and is available now.

Selected Discography

Baixo Familia


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