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Morelenbaum is the son of conductor Henrique Morelenbaum and piano teacher Sarah Morelenbaum. His siblings are Lucia Morelenbaum, clarinetist of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra; and Eduardo Morelenbaum, conductor, arranger and instrumentalist. He is married to the singer Paula Morelenbaum.
He started his musical career as part of the group A Barca do Sol, and participated in the Nova Banda that performed with Antonio Carlos Jobim and shows and recordings that led to a Grammy win for the CD Antonio Brasileiro. A cellist, he studied music in Brazil and later joined[clarification needed] the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1995, with Paula Morelenbaum, Paulo Jobim and Daniel Jobim, he created the Quarteto Jobim Morelenbaum. The group toured Europe several times, including an appearance at the Expo'98 held in Lisbon. They also toured the United States and Brazil and recorded a CD (Quarteto Jobim Morelenbaum).
Nordeste Já (Northeast Right Now)
Morelenbaum sang in the choir of the Brazilian version of We Are the World, the hit American song that raised funds for African relief via USA for Africa. The project Nordeste Já (1985), embraced the cause of the Northeast drought. 155 voices joined in a single, collective creation, with the songs Chega de mágoa and Seca d´água. Praised for the competency of individual interpretations, he was also criticized[who?] for failure to harmonize the voices and the framework of each of them in chorus.
As arranger, he worked alongside Tom Jobim (Passarim, O tempo e o vento, Tom Jobim: inédito and Antônio Brasileiro), Caetano Veloso (Circuladô, Circuladô vivo, Fina estampa', Fina estampa, ao vivo, Tieta do agreste, Prenda minha, Livro and Homaggio a Fellini e Giulieta), Gal Costa (Mina d'água do meu canto), Paula Morelenbaum, Ivan Lins, Barão Vermelho and Skank, among others, besides the album Piazzollando (honoring the work of Ástor Piazzolla) in which Morelenbaum also served as instrumentalist, conductor, and producer. The disc was considered by Argentina[who?] as one of the 10 best of 1992. He wrote arrangements for records of Marisa Monte and Carlinhos Brown and the acoustic disc of Titãs, which amounted to 1.5 million copies sold.[clarification needed]
With Gilberto Gil and Bem Gil, Morelenbaum toured the USA in March 2010 as "The String Concert featuring Jacques Morelenbaum & Bem Gil."
He also served as arranger, at works by international artists such as Portuguese band Madredeus, Portuguese singer Dulce Pontes, Japanese group Gontiti, Angolan composer Paulo Flores, Scottish/American musician David Byrne, Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora and pianist and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, among others. Among his best known work is Transparente, in partnership with Mariza. In 2001, he participated as cellist on the recording of the DVD All this time, by Sting. In 2008, he produced and arranged the Mexican singer Julieta Venegas MTV Unplugged. In 2010, he was the arranger for Omar Sosa's Ceremony album (World Village WVF479042) with the NDR Bigband.
Morelenbaum appears alongside Caetano Veloso in a cameo role in Talk to Her (Spanish: Hable con ella), by Pedro Almodóvar. He composed, in partnership with Antonio Pinto, the soundtrack to Central Station (Portuguese: Central do Brasil) (which received the Prêmio Sharp (Sharp Award) for Best Soundtrack). Orfeu do Carnaval, Tieta do Agreste, and O Quatrilho are among others works
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As part of the Morelenbaum2/Sakamoto ensemble, he released the CD Casa in 2002 with Paula Morelenbaum, guitarist Luiz Brasil, and pianist Ryuichi Sakamoto. The project was recorded in the home of Tom Jobim, composer of all the songs on the disc. This group performed in jazz festivals at Montreux, Vienna, Lisbon, Porto, Rome, and Milan, among others, and in 2003 released a live album, A Day in New York.