Moacir Santos (1924–2006) was a Brazilian composer, multi-instrumentalist and music educator. Baden Powell de Aquino and Wilson das Neves both studied under him. As a composer, Santos worked with Nara Leão, Roberto Menescal, Sérgio Mendes and Lynda Laurence, among others.
|This section requires expansion. (January 2011)|
- 1964: Luiza (RCA Victor)
- 1965: Coisas (Forma)
- 1972: Maestro (Blue Note)
- 1974: Saudade (Blue Note)
- 1975: Carnival of the Spirits (Blue Note)
- 1978: Opus 3, No. 1 (Discovery)
- 2004: Ouro Negro (Adventure Music)
- 2005: Choros & Alegria (Adventure Music)
With Kenny Burrell
- Both Feet on the Ground (Fantasy, 1973)
From the New York Times:
By BEN RATLIFF Published: August 14, 2006
Moacir Santos, a Brazilian jazz composer whose six decades of music were rediscovered and celebrated in Brazil and the United States only in the last five years, died on Sunday in Pasadena, Calif. He was 80.
The cause was complications of a stroke, said Richard Zirinsky of Adventure Music, his American record label.
Mr. Santos was born in Flores do Pajeú, a rural town with five streets in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. When he was 2, he was effectively orphaned: his mother died, and his father had already left home. He was taken in by a family who placed him in school and helped him take music lessons.
At 14, proficient on the saxophone, banjo, guitar and mandolin, he ran away from home, traveling around Pernambuco in search of work. In the early 1940s, he hitchhiked around the states of Pernambuco, Ceará and Bahia, settling for a while in Recife and elsewhere for radio-studio work, and became known for his swing-style saxophone playing.
In 1948 Mr. Santos moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he became a staff musician at Rádio Nacional do Brasil, the prestigious government-owned station. Having already learned to sight read, he studied conducting and orchestration and finally became the station’s music director.
In the 1950s and 60’s, he also gave private lessons to a variety of young musicians who would become important within bossa nova, including Nara Leao, Baden Powell, Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal.
In 1965 Mr. Santos recorded the album “Coisas” (“Things”), one of the great accomplishments of modern Brazilian music, though underrecognized at the time. It mixes marches, Afro-Brazilian rhythms, strong melodies, jazz syncopation and bracing harmony of an Ellington-like concision; it gestures at different kinds of Brazilian regional music but is overall a highly original work.
“Coisa No. 5,” from the album, was later retitled “Nanã,” given lyrics by Mario Telles, and recorded by more than 100 artists, including Sergio Mendes and Eumir Deodato.
In the 1960s, Mr. Santos also composed music for the soundtracks of Brazilian films including “Seara Vermelha,” and “O Beijo,” and, in 1965, “Amor no Pacifico” (“Love in the Pacific”), an ambitious score that he said opened doors for him to work in the United States.
In 1967, he and his wife, Cleonice, moved to Pasadena, where they remained. His wife survives him, along with his son, Moacir Santos Jr., also of Pasadena, and three grandchildren.
Much of Mr. Santos’s work in Hollywood soundtracks was uncredited; in an interview, he said that “Final Justice” (1985) was the only film for which he received official credit. He recorded three albums for Blue Note in the 1970s; one of them, “Maestro,” was nominated for a Grammy.
In 2001, with the original “Coisas” still not reissued, the Brazilian musicians Zé Nogueira and Mario Adnet organized sessions in Brazil to re-record a selection of Mr. Santos’s best work — including much of “Coisas” — with younger Brazilian musicians and guests who included Milton Nascimento and Gilberto Gil.
The album, “Ouro Negro,” rehabilitated Mr. Santos’s reputation in his own country and abroad; one of his new American fans was Wynton Marsalis, who played on Mr. Santos’s final album, “Choros & Alegria.”
In 2004, “Coisas” was finally reissued by Universal in Brazil. Adventure Music plans to release it in the United States next year.