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Zéfiro is an attractive option that helps make any event special. Unique among musical choices for either background or concert, choro ("show-row") music is often called Brazil's ragtime music. It will surprise and delight your guests. Zéfiro is also available for informative play-and-talk presentations and customized programs using other musical genres. From cocktail parties to celebration-of-life gatherings, satisfied customers say, "that was the perfect background music for our event."
Susan and Bob Jones are Zéfiro, a sensational new instrumental group bringing Brazilian choro music to the Eastern Shore. The choro style was developed through the introduction of European instruments, rhythms and influences following migration of the royal family and 15,000 Portuguese to Brazil in the early 1800’s. When combined with folk and African elements, the resulting music became wildly popular, often compared to the ragtime style that was emerging in North America. The word “choro” literally means “weeping.” Often plangent and melancholy, choro's can also be lively, breezy, and full of joyous improvisation.
Having retired from careers as performers of classical orchestral and chamber music, theatrical shows, dance bands, and most every musical form, Bob and Susan have created their new performing voice blending their combined two clarinets, three saxophones and flute with top Brazilian studio musicians known as the Choro Ensemble on pre-recorded sound tracks, all played through a stereo-theater-quality sound, mixed through the famed Bose PA system which they provide.
Zéfiro is Portuguese for zephyr, a gentle, pleasant wind. The solo instruments in choro are traditionally woodwinds, specifically flute, clarinet and saxophone. As Zéfiro, Bob and Susan will introduce you to the history, composers and characteristics of choro through their virtuosic personal performances and informative commentary, if desired.
In addition to classic choro music played in authentic transcriptions for their specific instruments, Zéfiro offers Baroque period and ragtime music in the choro rhythmic and harmonic tradition. Zéfiro creates many of its own arrangements, always true to the musical traditions of choro.
In response to requests for programs for specific audiences and occasions, Susan and Bob have created other thematic programs. These work particularly well for senior centers and communities, churches, civic, seasonal, and holiday occasions. (See the sidebar for examples.)
Susan also performs light classical piano music for parties or dining as a soloist or as a duo with Bob playing flute. Hear Susan's demo recordings over on the sidebar on this page.
More than fifty years after playing their first clarinet duet together, in college, Susan and Bob have put together a program of music and commentary that shares their virtuosity along with anecdotes and humor about their career experiences, the music, and the composers and performers who created it.
Their programs are a mix of familiar music and pleasing surprises. They play all styles, from gospel to popular favorites to lightly swinging jazz, and their signature Brazilian choro. Bob and Susan re-create the hit tunes and solos of clarinet legends like Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Pete Fountain, Acker Bilk, and Sidney Bechet.
Sometimes they play a cappella (no accompaniment, just clarinets). Sometimes it is "klarioke" with pre-recorded accompaniment. Their beautiful tones and Dizzy Fingers echo the golden age of this instrument that has been called a "wind banjo" and a "licorice stick" but is seated in the very center of every symphony orchestra!
An experienced professional musician on both the piano and clarinet, Susan played clarinet for fourteen years in the Oregon Symphony and in many other groups, as well. In 1980, with Bob, she began an odyssey eastward from her beloved state of Oregon. Along the way, she continued to play professionally in Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Washington, DC, and even Orange County, California. (Detour!)
Susan Jones has spent a great deal of her career as a performer, playing for fourteen years as a member of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra clarinet section, twelve years as a substitute and “first-call extra” with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra (bass, Eb, and utility clarinet), and also with such ensembles as the Portland Opera Association Orchestra and the Portland Symphonic Band. In addition, she has performed with David Schifrin at Chamber Music Northwest, and has been a member of the Group for New Music, Lyric Ensemble and the Northwest Woodwind Ensemble. She has also performed professionally in Minneapolis, Washington, DC and Orange County, California. Ms. Jones has always been an active recitalist and is currently a member of the Brazilian ragtime ensemble known as Zéfirowhich she co-founded with her husband, Bob, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
As a teacher, Ms. Jones taught privately and at Linfield College, Reed College, the Portland Community Music Center, Broad Ripple High School’s Performing arts Center in Indianapolis, and she has even been a rehearsal pianist for the Opera Conservatory at the Orange County (CA) High School of the Arts.
Susan has been a musician since her very early years when she took up the clarinet and the piano, studying from grade school through college. She was Principal Clarinet in the Portland Junior Symphony which has come to be known as the Portland Youth Philharmonic, and she spent summers doing advanced study on scholarship at both the Aspen and Tanglewood Music festivals. Her clarinet teachers were Catherine Palladino, Principal Clarinet of the Oregon Symphony, Earl Bates (Aspen Festival), Professor Anton Weinberg (Indiana University) and has attended master classes with Mitchell Lurie and with Gino Cioffi while a member of the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra.
She studied piano for many years with Portland, OR, premier piano teacher and performer Sylvia Kilman. The 1915 Model B Mason Hamlin grand piano on which she once played her lessons and recitals is now hers to play in her own home.
Bob began his professional performing career as leader of his own twelve-piece band at age sixteen and as contractor for the Portland (OR) Civic Theater summer musical season the following year. He played saxophones, clarinets and flute/piccolo in all types of concert and show bands and orchestras, gave classical recitals, performed with the Oregon Symphony and Portland Opera, and Chamber Music Northwest. He was a soloist with the Portland Chamber Orchestra, North Coast Chamber Orchestra, at the World Saxophone Congress, and founded and led the Oregon Saxophone Quartet. He was elected as the youngest CEO of the Portland (Oregon) local musicians’ union, the youngest elected to the American Federation of Musicians International Executive Board, and its only active career musician at the time. For fifteen years Bob maintained a large private teaching class and was adjunct faculty in woodwinds at Portland State University, Lewis & Clark College and Reed College.
His instrumental studies began with Ted Moore, principal flute of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra (pupil of Julius Baker and Marcel Moyse) who was also a an extraordinary clarinetist and saxophonist. Bob went on to study with Ronald Phillips (principal, Seattle Symphony) and Antonio Raimondi (LAPhil). He studied saxophone with Russell Cheever (Hollywood Saxophone Quartet), Eugene Rousseau, Donald Sinta, and attended master class/clinics with Al Gallodoro and Sigurd Rascher.
In 1980, Bob gave up his instruments entirely to devote all his energies to orchestra management. He was VP & General Manager of the Minnesota Orchestra, President of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and concurrently President of the National Symphony Orchestra and VP, Music for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has also held the positions of Executive Director, Long Beach Symphony and Opera Pacific.
n 2012, Bob and his wife, Susan, returned to their Eastern Shore (MD) house full-time. In 2015, they created Chesapeake International Arts to provide arts industry organizations and individuals with support services and to help select performing, visual, and literary artists to gain traction and eventual access to the world’s audiences.
After a 34-year hiatus from playing his instruments, Bob became sufficiently inspired by Brazilian ragtime, known as choro music, to "reboot" himself as a musician. He and Susan, have combined their talents and founded the immediately successful choro ensemble, Zéfiro, and later, a spin-off group called ClariNUTS.
Eastern Shore, Maryland
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Audio examples of Brazilian Ragtime Choro Music by Zéfiro and the Choro Ensemble
Gospel Hit ParadeThis program of Country Gospel, Hymns, and Plantation Songs that you know and love is guaranteed to evoke emotions from tears to hand-clapping. Instrumental backing tracks bring full orchestra and chorus to your event as a showcase for the virtuosic saxophone and clarinet stylings of Bob and Susan channeling Boots Randolph, Dave Koz, and Pete Fountain, in addition to their own powerfully individual stylings.
Seasonal ChestnutsChristmas music can be performed traditionally or in a variety of musical genres from sacred or classical to vintage pop, rock, blues, and novelty. Lovely backing tracks by orchestras, small ensembles, piano and organ frame the live artistry and personality of woodwind artists Bob and Susan Jones. Sing-a-longs led enthusiastically. Lyric sheets provided.
Nostalgia NowThe songs you learned to love from the 1800's through the 1940's. Early radio, 78 rpm recordings, school music classes and choir (remember those?) and your parlor piano made these songs popular and we've never forgotten them. Sing-a-longs, guessing games, a bit of their history and origin, and fun.