Arnaldo DeSouteiro

Interview with Arnaldo DeSouteiro, head of

Jazz Station Records (Brazil); producer, journalist, publicist, educator.

Interviewer: B.J. Major

This interview received in email on 3/1/01.

Q. Arnaldo, could we begin with your telling me how long you have known José personally?

I don't remember exactly when I began to read Raffaelli's reviews in Jornal do Brasil, but it was probably in 1978. Before that I used to read the liner notes he wrote for several jazz albums released in Brazil by a small label named Imagem, owned by an ex-singer and a big jazz fan, Jonas Silva. At that time, it was not a usual thing, in Brazil, to hire a local critic to write liner notes for albums by American jazzmen. Most of the recording companies opted to do a translation of the original texts written by American jazz critics. So, as far as I know, José Domingos Raffaelli was a pioneer in the writing of liner notes, for Brazilian issues of jazz albums recorded by American artists.

Q. How did you initially meet José?

I met him in person for the first time in 1978, during a jazz festival in Saõ Paulo. Later he came to my birthday party in 1980. That same year we met, in July or August, in a jazz festival in Rio de Janeiro, the Rio/Monterey Jazz Festival. He was already a famous writer, then working for Jornal do Brasil, while I was beginning my career, working for the Tribuna da Imprensa newspaper. We also wrote - separately, of course - some stories, about that festival, for a now-defunct magazine named New Meeting International Show Business Magazine (what a name!). Well, José wrote about the John McLaughlin/Christian Escoude duo, about the Slide Hampton/Clark Terry all-stars band etc. I wrote about Weather Report, George Duke, Airto,the fusion gang.

Q. How have you liked/enjoyed his writings about jazz and Brazilian music on a personal level?

Mr. Raffaelli is a great jazz connoisseur, with a vast knowledge of the bebop history. He really seems to know everything about all the pre-70s jazz styles. I also know he is very well informed about Bossa Nova. Brazilian musicians love him, because he really gives the young talents a big encouragement. I also admire him for reviewing many albums released by micro independent labels, while most critics prefer to ignore them, paying attention only to the items released by the big companies.

But we have some different point of views about fusion, for example. I love Miles' jazz-rock period. Jose hates it! I love the CTI style (Creed Taylor is my favorite jazz producer ever) of the 70s. Jose hates CTI! But it's important to respect our different tastes. Regarding Donato, for example, I'm sure José doesn't like A Bad Donato or Donato/Deodato, two of my favorite Donato albums. José prefers the acoustic and more soft approaches of So Danço Samba and Cafe Com Pao.

Q. Do you have occasion to see/visit with José often?

Unfortunately, I lost personal contact with José in recent years. I spend most of my time traveling to USA, Europe and Japan, producing all the time. I keep my column in the Rio daily Tribuna da Imprensa only because they give me total freedom. I mean: I can write only when I have time to do it, I don't need to attend concerts I don't want to attend, I chose the albums I want to review etc. Sometimes I write four articles in a month, sometimes only one. So, I'm not connected with jazz critics in Brazil anymore. This past year, I was unable even to attend the only jazz festival we currently have in Brazil, because I was in London.

Q. How would you characterize José's writing style and journalism?

He is a jazz historian, and I regret that, currently, he doesn't have the space he deserves in this newspaper O Globo. Although it's one of Brazil's leading newspapers, the editors (and the other music critics) have other priorities. Jazz is a low priority there, and it's bad for Raffaelli because his writing doesn't receive big exposure.

Thank you, Arnaldo, for the interview!


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