João Donato

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João Donato
João Donato.jpg
Donato in 2007
Background information
Birth nameJoão Donato de Oliveira Neto
Born (1934-08-17) August 17, 1934 (age 85)
Rio Branco, Brazil
GenresBrazilian jazz, bossa nova
Years active1940s–present
Associated actsJoão Gilberto

João Donato de Oliveira Neto is a Brazilian jazz and bossa nova pianist from Brazil. He first worked with Altamiro Carrilho and went on to perform with Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto.


Early life[edit]

João Donato de Oliveira Neto was born in Rio Branco, the capital of the state of Acre, Brazil, on August 17, 1934. His father, also called João Donato, was a pilot and in his leisure hours liked to play the mandolin at home. His mother sang and his eldest sister, Eneyda, turned became a pianist. The youngest, Lysias, was more inclined to letters and became the main partner in his brother's compositions.

Donato's first instrument was an accordion, on which he composed his first piece, the waltz "Nini", at the age of eight. In 1945, Donato Sr. was transferred and the family had to leave Rio Branco for Rio de Janeiro. The musical circuit consisted of parties at schools in Tijuca and neighboring areas. He appeared on TV on Ary Barroso's talent search program, but Barroso refused to hear him on the allegation that he disliked child prodigies.


A professional at the age of 15, Donato played accordion at the Sinatra-Farney Fan Club.[1] Johnny Alf, Nora Ney, Dóris Monteiro, Paulo Moura, and Jô Soares were among the musicians.

He recorded for the first time with Altamiro Carrilho.[1] Soon after he joined a band led by violinist Fafá Lemos that played in Brazilian nightclubs.[1] His first solo album came out in 1953.[1] He led the bossa nova band Os Namorados [1] which performed songs such as "Tenderly"[1] by Nat King Cole and "Se acaso você chegasse" by Lupicínio Rodrigues, a samba composer from Rio Grande do Sul.

Donato became arranger and pianist for the band Garotos da Lua and was joined by João Gilberto.[1] After moving to São Paulo, he played in the Luís César Orchestra and the band Os Copacabanas.[1] In 1956 he recorded an album for Odeon that was produced by Antonio Carlos Jobim.[1] Donato wrote "Minha Saudade" with Gilberto, and it became a hit.[1] In an interview during the 1970s, Gilberto said Donato inspired the creation of bossa nova.[1]

Jobs at nightclubs decreased when customers said they couldn't dance to his music. Musicians, too, found the music difficult to learn.[1] Unable to find work in his home country, he left Brazil after his friend Nanai, a former member of Os Namorados, offered him a job in the U.S.[1] During the next decade, he recorded with Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Astrud Gilberto, Bud Shank, and Cal Tjader.[1] His hits included "A Rã," and "Caranguejo", both recorded by Sergio Mendes.[1] His album A Bad Donato (1970) was recorded with jazz bassist Ron Carter.[1] He was music director for Gal Costa in 1974.[1]

Quem é Quem, released by EMI in 1973 includes the tracks "Terremoto", "Chorou, chorou" (both with lyrics by Paulo César Pinheiro"), "Até quem sabe" (with Lysias), "Cadê Jodel?" (with Marcos Valle). Even Dorival Caymmi contributes an unpublished, "Cala a boca, Menino". The next album, Lugar Comum (1975) continues with a Donato as vocalist, with most of the repertoire consisting of former instrumental themes with added lyrics. There are partnerships with Caetano Veloso ("Naturalmente"), Gutemberg Guarabyra ("Ê menina") and Rubens Confete ("Xangô é de Baê") and eight songs with Gil, among them, "Tudo tem", "A bruxa de mentira", "Deixei recado", "Que besteira", "Emoriô", and "Bananeira".

After a twenty-year hiatus from recording, he returned with the album Coisas Tão Simples, produced by João Augusto. The album included "Doralinda", a partnership with Cazuza, in addition to new collaborations with Lysias ("Fonte da saudade"), Norman Gimbel ("Everyday"), Toshiro Ono ("Summer of temptation").

Awards and honors[edit]

Alexandre Carvalho dos Santos wrote, "I recommend a João Donato gig not only to someone who is interested in first class music, an impressive pianist and a selection of historic compositions. I recommend it to anyone who needs an anti-depressive, an acupuncture session or any such other form of deep relaxation. I had my dose on a Sunday evening, from a show in São Paulo. A perfect timing to start a week believing that happiness exists, in spite of your boss". In 2010, Sambolero, credited as the João Donato Trio, earned the Latin Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album at the 10th Latin Grammy Awards.[2]

In 2016, he was nominated for the Latin Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Album for his album Donato Elétrico.[3] The album was also chosen by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone magazine as the 11th best Brazilian album of 2016.[4] His album Sintetizamor was named by Rolling Stone Brasil one of the best of 2017.[5]


As leader[edit]

  • The New Sound of Brazil (RCA Victor, 1965)
  • Sambou Sambou (Pacific Jazz, 1965)
  • A Bad Donato (Blue Thumb, 1970)
  • Quem e Quem (Odeon, 1973)
  • DonatoDeodato (Muse, 1973)
  • Lugar Comum (Philips, 1975)
  • Leilíadas (Elektra Musician, 1986)
  • Coisas tão simples (Odeon, 1995)
  • Café com Oão with Eloir de Moraes (Lumiar Discos, 1997)
  • Só Danço Samba (Lumiar Discos, 1999)
  • Remando Na Raia (Lumiar Discos, 2001)
  • Ê Lalá Lay-Ê (DeckDisc, 2001)
  • Managarroba (Deckdisc, 2002)
  • Wanda Sá Com João Donato (Deckdisc, 2003)
  • A Blue Donato (Whatmusic, 2005)
  • João Donato Reecontra Maria Tita (Lumiar Discos, 2006)
  • Dois Panos para Manga with Paulo Moura (Biscoito Fino, 2006)
  • Uma Tarde Com Bud Shank e João Donato (Biscoito Fino, 2007)
  • O Piano De João Donato (Deckdisc, 2007)
  • Donatural (Biscoito Fino, 2009)
  • Água with Paula Morelenbaum (Biscoito Fino, 2010)
  • Live Jazz in Rio Vol 1 - O Couro Ta Comendo! (Discobertas, 2014)
  • Donato Elétrico (Selo, 2016)
  • Sintetizamor (Polysom, 2017)
  • Raridades (Anos 70) (Discobertas, 2018)
  • Gozando a Existência (Discobertas, 2018)

As sideman[edit]

With Vinicius Cantuária

With Nana Caymmi

  • Renascer (1976)
  • Nana (1977)

With Gal Costa

  • Cantar (Philips, 1974)
  • Gal Canta Caymmi (Philips, 1976)
  • Estratosférica (Sony, 2015)

With Bebel Gilberto

With Joyce

  • Tudo Bonito (Epic, 2000)
  • Bossa Duets (Sony, 2003)
  • Aquarius (2009)

With Marisa Monte

With Cal Tjader

  • The Prophet (Verve, 1968)
  • Solar Heat (Skye, 1968)
  • Sounds Out Burt Bacharach (Skye, 1969)

With others


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Neder, Alvaro. "João Donato". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  2. ^ "2010 Latin Grammy Awards winners". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. November 11, 2010. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  3. ^ "Lista completa de nominados a Latin GRAMMY 2016". Univision. Univision Communications. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Melhores Discos Nacionais de 2016". Rolling Stone Brasil. Grupo Spring de Comunicação. 2016. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Melhores Discos Nacionais de 2017". Rolling Stone Brasil. Grupo Spring de Comunicação. 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2019.

External links[edit]