How B.J. met
I received a CD in the mail one Saturday in April 2000 that was going to change my life in a way that I could never have imagined. A friend of mine in Sao Paulo, Brazil attended a concert on Friday April 7 that featured the new Joao Donato Trio performing with the Jazz Sinfonica. The drummer of the new Trio, Claudio Slon, was already an email acquaintance of mine, and in fact I was working on building his official website during his time in Brazil. The CD, which my friend had Claudio Slon personally autograph, arrived at my door one week after the concert. I had been looking forward to the release of this album which was called "Amazonas" for some time now; in fact, ever since I heard Claudio talk about it the previous November. After being overjoyed at looking at the autograph, I wanted to hear the album right away.
I wound up playing that album over and over, nonstop for several hours that Saturday afternoon. Although I had been familiar with many of Donato's compositions, I was not familiar with his own style of piano playing--which I quickly grew to love. Everything about this album seemed to be perfect.
I was inspired to do several things that afternoon after hearing this music. I wrote a review of the CD (located HERE) and I also wrote a long letter to the producer of the album. I emailed the review to several friends, posted it to a Brazilian music discussion list, and also posted it on a Jazz discussion forum on the web.
Two days later on Monday, April 17, I received
the one and only reply to this date on that post.
Here is what José posted on the discussion board in response to my review:
You're absolutely right, I agree completely with you. I'm a friend of Donato since we were teenagers. "Amazonas" is his best album since "Muito A Vontade" and "A Bossa Muito Moderna de João Donato", recorded in the sixties. Donato created a highly individual style that influenced many Brazilian pianists along the years. Believe it or not, only in the last three or four years his talent has been recognized here in Brazil. Donato started his career a decade before the bossa nova fad and developed his style influenced by some American jazzmen; curiously, Stan Kenton, Shorty Rogers and Gerry Mulligan were his main influences as composers. He went to the USA in 1959 staying 14 years up there playing with Mongo Santamaria, Bud Shank, Chet Baker, Barney Kessel and his own trio. As you know, he is also a profilic composer and his compositions were recorded by Shank, Cal Tjader, Dave Pike, Chris Montez (yes, the singer!), Kessel, Mongo Santamaria and dozens Brazilian musicians. He also plays trombone and sings occasionally. He played and toured with João Gilberto in the sixties.
Excuse this long post.
Walter Wanderley, "Perpetual Motion Love",
GNP/Crescendo #GNPD 2142 (1981).[LP]
Produced by Gene Norman.
Walter Wanderley, "Batucada", Verve #V6-8706
Produced by Creed Taylor.
Emails about Music and Jazz
JDR's reply to my
review of the "Amazonas" CD
really intrigued me. I didn't know who this person was (nor his
importance in the jazz world); all I knew is that he took the time to
reply to my review and was actually familiar with the album I was
talking about. I decided to email him personally. Any
reference in emails to current date, age, or time is of course no
longer relevant as these emails are now years old.
Thank you very much for the response to my post and for the additional information on João Donato! I was so impressed by the CD that I wrote a letter over the weekend to Vartan Tonoian, the producer, in Denver. I hope he receives the letter. I followed everything about this CD and the new Donato Trio very closely because I am building Claudio Slon's official website for him, which will be online in May. As soon as Claudio returns to the U.S. in May he will be working with me on the completion of his site as he still has some information to give me that I do not have right now. I am a huge fan of Claudio's drum playing and have been listening to him play for 34 years, since he was with Walter Wanderley! I am thrilled and honored to be doing the website for him. I have several pictures from the Amazonas CD on a page of his site right now that I'm working on, and I've also scanned in the front page of the concert program from April 7 in São Paulo where the Trio performed.
I have two different recordings of the "Amazonas" composition by Walter Wanderley that are on his "Perpetual Motion Love" and "Kee-Ka-Roo" albums he did in the U.S. Little did I know how important this song would be in this new Donato CD! I also have "Minha Saudade" played by Wanderley on his "Batucada" album. And "A Ra" on two early Sergio Mendes albums.
I have always loved the style of Wanderley's playing (both piano and organ), and now I add João Donato to that same light-touch style, which is my favorite. Although I'm familiar with many of Donato's compositions, his is the first album of his that I own (and I am sure it won't be the last!). I am also excited about future releases the new Trio will make together.
Thanks for your enthusiastic email. Now I'm aware how a big Brazilian music fan you are. Your knowledge about Walter Wanderley and Donato is really amazing. Few Brazilians know so much about them! Yesterday I was told that Donato recorded live in São Paulo (Brazil's largest city) with his trio plus the local Symphonic Orchestra in April 7th. According the same source, the CD will be released in the second semester. By the way, do you know "Bud Shank and His Brazilian Friends" on Pacific Jazz? I have the Japanese release. It is an astonishing CD. Of course, Donato plays on the record and Shank was wise enough to record some of his compositions, including "Minha Saudade" and "Silk Stop".
Well, thanks again for your response. Stay well and take care,
In the next message I asked José if
he would mind if we kept in touch (because he knew so much about the
Brazilian musicians I happened to like). Here is what he said:
Excuse my delay to answer. I was out of town since the 20th morning and returned last night. I live in Rio de Janeiro and I grew up at the same time of Donato. Matter of fact, Donato is a 66-year old and I'm 72, a very old man. But I'm happy I lived since before bossa nova flourished and I became a friend of many musicians since that time and even before. I knew many of them (including Donato) long before they played professionally. I'm a journalist and I write a jazz column at O Globo, Brazil's leading newspaper, since 1987. Before, I worked for Jornal do Brasil newspaper from 1972 to 1987. Before that I'd wrote for other newspapers, including Diário do Paraná and Estado do Paraná.
I also write and/or wrote for American and European magazines (Billboard, Jazz Journal, from England, Jazz Forum, from Poland, Jazz Hot, from France, and Swing Journal, from Japan) as Brazilian correspondent. I also wrote hundreds of liner notes in LPs and CDs for different labels, including American and European ones. I'm extremely pleased we made contact, so I cannot be bored with your background. If so, you must be bored with the above informations about myself. There are few Brazilians enthusiastic and well informed about Brazilian music like you. Most people here are only interested in the garbage thing radio and TV offers as "music"; to me, that is the real air pollution...
Hope we'll stay in touch.
The next message I sent JDR, I told him my age and I asked him what Donato was like personally. I also told him about Antonio Carlos Jobim's appearance on a rare LP of Mancini-composed bossa nova-styled music that I had a small part in finding for someone else.
Thanks for reply. Oh, boy, you're 46! I would like to go back to being a 46-year old! I don't regret the things I did, I only regret the things I DIDN'T. Well, Donato is a very funny guy. He is joking almost all the time. He married several times. His first wife lives in San Francisco, her name is Patricia Del Sasser (no relation with the Sam Jones composition) and they have a daughter called Jodel (Donato wrote a piece titled "Cadê Jodel"). Actually, Donato has 3 or 4 sons and daughters from different mothers, of course. Now he is in love with a woman who lives in Brasilia (Brazil's capital) and he is very happy saying "I'm living again". His idols are Stan Kenton, Shorty Rogers, Gerry Mulligan and some other people from the West Coast, where Donato lived for 14 straight years. Perhaps you don't know, but Donato played accordion before the piano and later he learned to play trombone. He also sung in the vocal group Namorados da Lua (Moon' Sweethearts) when he was a teenager. Recently he had a heart attack in Brasilia but fortunately is fully recovered.
Changing the subject, I never knew about that Jack Wilson album. Once again, you Americans knows more about Brazilian music than most Brazilians.
Walter Wanderley, left; Eumir Deodato, center, Tom Jobim, right.
In the next email, I expressed my frustration at other people not being accepting of my own tastes in music, and how after years of listening to many kinds of music, I was going to stay centered in traditional bossa nova because that is the only place my soul feels at home. I also asked if JDR ever met Walter Wanderley, one of my heroes of Brazilian music.
Hi again BJ,
I understand what you feel about music and about the people who don't understand what you feel. Here in Brazil it happened the same with me when everybody disliked jazz and called me allienated. They couldn't understand why I loved jazz, "a foreign music". The stupid feeling against everything that came from abroad was to them a kind of "a betray against our country and our traditions". They had such stupid attitude as a reaction against "the foreign invasion in our culture", so to speak.
Many years ago a man in television criticized me for writing about jazz. He looked the camera and said: "Raffaelli, love Brazil or leave the country right now. The choice is yours". Another guy wrote in his newspaper that I earned money from the American Embassy to write about jazz... Could you imagine such thing? The American Embassy and the American Ambassador don't even know I exist.....
Don't pay attention to such people. Every human being has the right to chose what to do. If not, could you imagine a million people wanting the same woman? Unfortunately, we have to live with such people, so don't pay too much attention to them. Keep liking the music you want and keep finding the people who share the same feelings and tastes you have.
Unfortunately, I never met Walter Wanderley because he lived in São Paulo and I'm from Rio de Janeiro. I like his music and think he was a master organist, a musician with exceptional taste, swing and imagination. He always was underrated in Brazil and for this reason he lived in the USA. He was married to the late popular singer Isaurinha Garcia, but they were divorced when he went to Los Angeles.
Keep bearing the torch of good music.
Sergio Mendes & Bossa Rio, "Sergio Mendes
and Bossa Rio", Philips Brasil #P 632.701 (1964).[LP]
It a pleasure to hear from you again. It is amazing how many things your know about Brazilian music! Last year I'd bought in New York a Japanese CD (from the Columbia's Collectables Series) with material of two Sergio Mendes LP: "Dance Moderno", that you referred, and the "Bossa Rio Sextet", a great group he led in the early sixties. If you don't know this "Bossa Rio Sextet"album, take my word it is really great. The group sounds tight and swinging,with excellent solos by Sergio (at that time he played terrific things!), Raul de Souza (valve trombone), Edson Maciel (slide trombone), Hector Costita (tenor sax) plus Tião Neto (bass) and Edison Machado (Brazilian greatest ever drummer, IMHO). The arrangements are by Sergio himself, Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Meirelles. Tha latter is a kind of underground musician, a talented saxophonist, composer and arranger now almost completely forgotten, teaching music for a living. It is very, very sad! Matter of fact, if exists a musician who create the "jazz-samba" language (I'm not speaking about bossa nova) it is Meirelles. In the sixties he led a group called Meirelles e os Copa Cinco; of course, his records are long time out of print and I suppose they never reissued them in CD form. If so, I'll rush to buy them all.
[. . .]
Returning to the Bossa Rio Sextet, Edson Maciel and Edison Machado passed away some years ago. Maciel was a very dear friend and my neighbor - he used to hear jazz records at my home. His idol was Frank Rosolino. Quincy Jones heard Maciel play in 1967 and offered him a job in the USA, but he declined because do not speak any English. Before that, Donato called him to play in the USA and even sent him a air ticket, but he refused for the same reason.
I have a letter Donato sent me in 1966 telling about his invitation to Maciel. At that time Donato was playing with Chet Baker in Sausalito, CA.
[. . .]
Sergio Mendes, "Dance Moderno" Philips
[Brazil] #P 630.491 L (1960).[LP]
(This album has also subsequently been reissued on CD)
Hi BJ, (could be Barbara Jane?)
Excuse my delay to answer because I didn't work yesterday. I stayed home all day. Please, don't make excuses, write when you want. You're always welcome.
Tião Neto played with Antonio Carlos Jobim's band for almost a decade. He is one of our best bassists and lived in the USA during many years.
Claudio Slon played so many years with the late great Brazilian pianist/singer Dick Farney (real name: Farnésio Dutra e Silva), who claimed to be the first to record "Tenderly" in his first sojourn in the USA. As you know, Slon was born in Argentina, but lived for a long time in São Paulo, Brazil's largest city.
About Dance Moderno. The trombonist is Edson Maciel and the flutist is Bebeto, more known as the bass player of the renownmed Tamba Trio, one of greatest ever Brazilian small groups.
I went several times to New York, my favourite city in the world. I went 3 times in 1997, 2 in 1998 and 2 more in 1999, but I don't know when I can go again due to Brazilian economical crisis. Before that I went in 1954, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1972, 1982, 1987 and 1989, in a total of 15 wonderful trips. That's where I would like to be born, so I lived where the jazz action is. My devotion to jazz is almost total. I live, think and dream about jazz. You Americans are fortunate because you can hear the greatest world musicians anytime you want. One thing bothers me: at 72, I'm rushing against time and I wish I could live 150 years to absorb all that great music. As someone said, "Life is so short".
Now I'm gonna answer your other two emails.
Dick Farney, "Dick Farney Jazz", RGE Brasil
#XRLP 5134 (1962).[LP]
(This album has also subsequently been reissued on CD)
Well, Segundo Caderno is an equivalent of "the cultural suplement" of any newspaper. I don't know how you call its equivalent of The New York Times, but it is the second part covering movies, music, theatre, dance, opera and all cultural activities in the city. Hope you understand my (bad) explanation.
It is also difficult to explain why Walter Wanderley was overlooked in Brazil. If he lived in Rio maybe I could find at least one reason, but I suspect his humbleness (is that word correct ?) was one major factor. Another possible factor was that the organ never has been too much appreciated down here. Also as he was married to singer Isaurinha Garcia, maybe he spent too many years in her shadow playing in her band.
You're the second American who ask me about pianist Wanderley, from the Milton Banana Trio. Well, it seems nobody knows his second name. He is a kind of mysterious musician who seems to be vanished in the air after playing some two or three years with Banana. He recorded only with Banana. I believe he was born in Recife, in Pernambuco State, in the Northern part of Brazil. Now I'm gonna try to solve this mistery and I'll do my best to trace Wanderley background and what happened to him. I promise.
One word more: Milton Banana passed away last year from diabhetis. He lost his left leg and played drums until the end overcoming his disabillity (wrong word?).
Be sure I'll not stop to email you or anyone so sincere, kind and warm like you. But remember I have no Internet at home, so I can't answer you in the weekend days.
Thanks again, but I insist to send you some CDs. Please, tell me the ones you prefer (at least the artists). I'm gonna check some second hand stores to see what I can find. Maybe I can discover some treasures unnoticed when they had been released. You know something? Believe it or not, some Brazilian record companies do not publicize their releases, they don't even send the new CDs to the critics, so they remained unnoticed. I'm gonna try your sites and the one from the Estado de São Paulo article. Tell you later.
Excuse my delay to answer. [. . .]
I'm gonna look for some records for you. Please, wait a little more.
As far as I know, the Bossa Nova At Carnegie Hall LP never has been issued in CD form, at least in Brazil. As it was released by Audio Fidelity record, an American label (although long defunct), it is possible it exists in the USA. I'm gonna check in the catalogs I have.
Also I have to check if the Doris Monteiro's albums exists in CD.
Now I'm gonna answer your others emails.
I'm here again.
A coincidence: after some years without seeing him or have any news from him, imagine who called me Monday night? João Meirelles, the guy who arranged "Mancini Também É Samba"! I told him about our emails and he was totally delighted to know that someone in the USA have heard about him and will send me a copy of that album. He told me he hasn't played for the last three years but is preparing his return to the scene. I don't know if I told you before (I think not) that I promote every Friday a night of Jazz & Bossa Nova in a hotel here. Well, immediately I asked Meirelles if he would like to play there and to my delight he accepted immediately. He's is scheduled to play on next August, because I have already duos contracted for May, June and July. I conduct this project since April 1995 always with duos. The music is played in a small bar in the hotel with the capacity of 50 people. There is no stage, but a small corner where the musicians play. This is the reason to have only duos (sax/piano, piano/bass, guitar/piano, guitar/bass or similar other combinations). The hotel asked me to avoid trumpet, trombone and drums because the locals would be too noisy with these instruments; people go there to relax and to enjoy a conversation, although there are some devotees who go there to listen [to] the music. It is a very cozy place and there's no cover and no minimum.
[. . .]
I knew Walter Wanderley had problems with liquors but never thought they interferred that way in his private life. It is sad to think that such a talent (as many others, by the way) had his life prejudiced by their addiction.
Concerning the other Wanderley (pianist), I forgot to ask Meirelles about him. Certainly Meirelles would know some details about his background and what happened to him.
It is interesting you don't like the heavy handed pianists because I have the same feeling. Matter of fact, I lose patience easily when any pianist starts to play heavy chords. Like you, I prefer the ones who play single notes with a clear, light and distinctive touch, as Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, the late great Teddy Wilson, John Lewis, João Donato, Fernando Martins (a great Brazilian pianist) and many others.
Well, I'll be back soon.
Chris Montez, "Time After Time", A&M #SP
Produced by Tommy Li Puma.
Chris Montez album which features João Donato's "Amazonas", retitled "Keep Talkin'" (with English lyrics)
Yes, nobody knows why "Amazonas" has been titled "Keep Talkin'" in the Chris Montez recording. Even Donato don't know. I asked him about this many years ago and he couldn't tell the reason.
Wonderful to have so many messages to answer. Reading your emails it is like a breath of fresh air. There are few people here with your enthusiasm, your knowledge and your determination to know more and more.
I didn't know about Monica Wanderley. She must be the daughter of singer Isaurinha Garcia.
There is no information about when the Donato recording in São Paulo will be out. Matter of fact, this has been published in the press without mention to which record company or label would issue it.
It is tragic that Monica doesn't receive any royalties since 1986! There is no respect for anyone.
[. . .]
It will be a pleasure to send your some records. I'll do my best to find the ones you want.
Laurindo Almeida, 1987 (left); Bud Shank (right).
From left to right: Claudio Slon, João Donato, Marcos Valle, João Gilberto, Dick Farney.
Very, very interesting, Monica's interview. She said many things I didn't know and never even heard about that before. Among the many things she said, one is a great truth: Walter Wanderley has more American fans than Brazilians. We Brazilians, usually forget easily the older people, especially when they live or lived abroad, as is the case of Walter. Have your heard about guitarists Bola Sete, Laurindo Almeida and Nanai? They lived in the USA for years and died up there but it seems nobody remembers them. Bola Sete was a fantastic guitarist, maybe one of the two or three Brazil ever produced along with Laurindo Almeida, Baden Powell or Rafael Rabello.
Another coincidence: Monica mentioned that her father had a relationship with singer Claudette Soares. I never knew that. Well, last week Claudette did a week at Mistura Fina, Rio's most famous night club.
At this point in time I wanted to ask JDR if he knew Antonio Carlos Jobim. I also wanted to reassure him that I had not only heard of Laurindo Almeida and the others he mentioned above, but that I also owned several recordings by Laurindo as well. It is also at this point that I decided to do this web project on JDR, though I had not yet begun it or even knew what form it would take. I noticed that it was a real issue to him that great musicians not be forgotten as the years go on, and I was beginning to feel the same way about JDR...
This is highly interesting and absorbing. Yes, Jobim was a very warm guy who did everything he could for the others. He never assumed his importance as our greatest ever popular composer and helped everyone. He stayed the same wonderful guy from the first days, friend of his friends and making new friends with his disarming smile. Always ready to tell a joke, he loved to laugh, drink, talk about women and music, smoking his cigar and listen [to] the birds singing in the trees of his garden.
So, no wonder he played the three sessions of "Brazilian Mancini" for $210.
Jack Wilson, "Jack Wilson Plays Brazilian
Mancini", Vault #1001 (1965).[LP]
Produced by Jack Lewerke.
[Album cover photos courtesy of Mike Newcomb and Sergio Ximenes]
More on knowing Jobim....
Yes, I knew Jobim closely and interwied him several times for the newspaper. Once, around 1982/83, I compiled his jazz discography (I mean the jazz recordings with his songs released abroad) for a special project produced by a friend of mine with Jobim. Although he didn't pay me any money, I did it with great pleasure. Later, when Jobim's sister wrote his biography, she asked me to complete the discography, but she did not want to pay me. As I'm a professional and I make a living doing this, I refused to do it for nothing, especially knowing she was earning a lot of money for the work. So her book contains only the discography I compiled for the early project. Another Brazilian writer wrote another Jobim biography and used the discography I wrote without my permission.
Good morning! Sorry my delay to answer. Sometimes I can't reply immediately due to my work here. As I told you, I don't have Internet at home, so I send all emails from Globo.
I wish I could provide you with the Walter's album pictures for your site, but there is no chance at the moment. As I wrote before, I'll take a look in some second hand record stores to see what I can get for you.
Decidedly you're a real pro concerning the sites and discographies of your favourite musicians. The WW and Mancini ones prove your total dedication. Do you have enough time to work [on] these things? Keep doing all you can.
Excuse this question: what is your profession? I mean, what you do for a living?
Yes, unfortunately, such things like the use of the discography without permission happens here. Writer Sergio Cabral, who also wrote a Jobim biography also used my discography without permission. It's a shame because we can't do anything about this.
So you're a Perry Como fan! Few people speak about him these days. He is alive and well? He still sings? Tell me something. I have one of his 10 inch old LP and just four tracks in an RCA Victor CD with several artists, including Sinatra and Vaughan Monroe. I like Como's voice and I heard him sing in some movies from the 40's and 50's, I believe. His biggest hit was Temptation.
A friend of mine has just released a Sinatra discography in the USA, issued by Greenwood Press. His name is Luiz Carlos Nascimento Silva and the work has the title "Put Your Dreams Away - A Frank Sinatra Discography". I did an interview with him published recently and some people called me asking where they could buy it. If you're interested, you can check it in the Greenwood Press site.
Perry Como, "Lightly Latin", RCA #LPM-3552
Arranged and conducted by Nick Perito; produced by Andy Wiswell.
Your expertise about musicians and singers is really amazing! In just a few lines, you did a very good description of Perry Como and Nick Perito activities.
I'm glad Como is still alive and let's pray he will live many years more in good health despite his age. By the way, both Como and Perito are from Italian heritage like me. Did you realized how many great musicians/singers descends from Italians ? Even Tony Bennett (Bennedetto), Sinatra, Tony Martin, Dean Martin (Martino), Buddy DeFranco, Tony Pastor (Pastore), Joe Pass (Passalacqua), Frank Rosolino, Conte Candoli, Al Del Governatore, John Pizzarelli, Joe Carter (Cartiglia), Sonny Russo (Russomano), Tony Fruscella and the list goes on and on.
[. . .]
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