Luiz Bonfá

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Luiz Bonfá
LuizBonfa1962.jpg
Background information
Birth name Luiz Floriano Bonfá
Born (1922-10-17)October 17, 1922
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Died January 12, 2001(2001-01-12)
Rio de Janeiro
Genres Brazilian jazz, bossa nova
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1940s–2001
Labels Verve, Dot, Cook, Philips, Epic

Luiz Floriano Bonfá (17 October 1922 – 12 January 2001) was a Brazilian guitarist and composer. He was best known for the compositions he penned for the film Black Orpheus.[1]

Biography[edit]

Luiz Floriano Bonfá was born on October 17, 1922, in Rio de Janeiro. He studied in Rio with Uruguayan classical guitarist Isaías Sávio from the age of 11. These weekly lessons entailed a long, harsh commute by train (2 1/2 hours one way) and on foot from his family home in Santa Cruz, the western rural outskirts of Rio de Janeiro to the teacher's home in the hills of Santa Teresa. Given Bonfá's extraordinary dedication and talent for the guitar, Sávio excused the youngster's inability to pay for his lessons.

Bonfá first gained widespread exposure in Brazil in 1947 when he was featured on Rio's Rádio Nacional, then an important showcase for up-and-coming talent. He was a member of the vocal group Quitandinha Serenaders in the late 1940s. Some of his first compositions such as "Ranchinho de Palha", "O Vento Não Sabe", were recorded and performed by Brazilian crooner Dick Farney in the 1950s. Bonfá's first hit song was "De Cigarro em Cigarro" recorded by Nora Ney in 1957. It was through Farney that Bonfá was introduced to Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, the leading songwriting team behind the worldwide explosion of Brazilian jazz/pop music in the late 1950s and 1960s. Bonfá collaborated with them and with other prominent Brazilian musicians and artists in productions of de Moraes' anthological play Orfeu da Conceição, which several years later gave origin to Marcel Camus' film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro in Portuguese). In the burgeoning days of Rio de Janeiro's thriving jazz scene, it was commonplace for musicians, artists, and dramatists to collaborate in such theatrical presentations. Bonfá wrote some of the original music featured in the film, including the numbers "Samba de Orfeu" and his most famous composition, "Manhã de Carnaval" (of which Carl Sigman later wrote a different set of English lyrics titled "A Day in the Life of a Fool"), which has been among the top ten standards played worldwide, according to The Guinness Book of World Records.

As a composer and performer, Bonfá was at heart an exponent of the bold, lyrical, lushly orchestrated, and emotionally charged samba-canção style that predated the arrival of João Gilberto's more refined and subdued bossa nova style. Jobim, João Donato, Dorival Caymmi, and other contemporaries were also essentially samba-canção musicians until the sudden, massive popularity of the young Gilberto's unique style of guitar playing and expressively muted vocals transformed the music of the day into the music of the future. Camus' film and Gilberto's and Jobim's collaborations with American jazzmen such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd did much to bring Brazilian popular music to the attention of the world, and Bonfá became a highly visible ambassador of Brazilian music in the United States beginning with the famous November 1962 Bossa Nova concert at New York's Carnegie Hall.

Bonfá worked with American musicians such as Quincy Jones, George Benson, Stan Getz, and Frank Sinatra, recording several albums while in U.S. Elvis Presley sang a Bonfá composition, "Almost in Love" with lyrics by Randy Starr in the 1968 MGM film Live a Little, Love a Little. Also of note is his "The Gentle Rain", with lyrics by Matt Dubey, and "Sambolero".

Bonfá died at 78 in Rio de Janeiro on January 12, 2001.

Legacy[edit]

In 2005, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released an album of Bonfá's work, entitled Solo in Rio 1959, which included previously unreleased material from the original recording session.

In 2008, Universal Music France released a coffee table book containing two CDs which included previously unreleased material of the Black Orpheus soundtrack, and a DVD. Also in 2008, Universal Music released The Brazilian Scene, Braziliana and Black Orpheus celebrating the 50th anniversary of the bossa nova.

Bonfá's major legacy continues to be his compositions from the Black Orpheus soundtrack, most notably the instantly recognizable bossa nova classic "Manhã de Carnaval". But Bonfá's discography also attests to his uniquely inventive mastery of Brazilian jazz guitar. Bonfá's guitar style was brassier and more penetrating than that of his major contemporary, João Gilberto, and Bonfá was a frequent and adept soloist whereas Gilberto plays his own suave, intricate brand of rhythm guitar almost exclusively. Bonfá often played solo guitar in a polyphonic style, harmonizing melody lines in a manner similar to that made famous by Wes Montgomery in the USA, or playing lead and rhythm parts simultaneously. As a composer and as a guitarist, Bonfá played a pivotal role in bridging the incumbent samba-canção style with the innovations of the bossa nova movement.

Discography[edit]

  • 1955 Luiz Bonfá (Continental)
  • 1956 De cigarro em cigarro (Continental)
  • 1956 Noite e Dia (Continental)
  • 1956 Meia-Noite em Copacabana (Polydor)
  • 1956 Edu N.2 (Rádio)
  • 1956 Orfeu da Conceição (Odeon)
  • 1957 Alta Versatilidade (Odeon)
  • 1957 Violão Boêmio (Odeon)
  • 1958 Ritmo Continentais (Odeon)
  • 1958 Bonfafá (MOFB)
  • 1958 Luiz Bonfá e Silvia Telles (BWB)
  • 1958 Meu Querido Vioão (Odeon)
  • 1959 !Amor! (Atlantic)
  • 1959 Black Orpheus (Philips)
  • 1959 O Violão de Luiz Bonfá (Cook)
  • 1960 A Voz e o Violão (Odeon)
  • 1960 Passeio no Rio (Odeon)
  • 1961 Pery Ribeiro (Odeon)
  • 1961 Luiz Bonfá (Odeon)
  • 1961 Pery Ribeiro e Seu Mundo de Canções Românticas (Odeon)
  • 1961 Sócio de Alcova (RCA)
  • 1962 O Violão e o Samba (Odeo)
  • 1962 Le Roi de la Bossa Nova (Fontana)
  • 1962 Bossa Nova no Carnegie Hall (Audio Fidelity)
  • 1962 Luiz Bonfá Composer of Black Orpheus Plays and Sings Bossa Nova (Verve)
  • 1962 Le Ore Dell Amore (C.A.M.)
  • 1963 Caterina Valente e Luiz Bonfá (London)
  • 1963 Jazz Samba Encore (Verve)
  • 1963 Recado Novo de Luiz Bonfá (Odeon)
  • 1963 Violão Boêmio vol. 2 (Odeon)
  • 1964 Rio (Columbia)
  • 1965 The Gentle Rain (Mercury)
  • 1965 Quincy Plays for Pussycats (Mercury)
  • 1965 The Shadow of Your Smile (Verve)
  • 1965 Braziliana (Philips)
  • 1965 The New Sound of Brazil (RCA)
  • 1965 The Movie Song Album (Columbia)
  • 1965 The Brazilian Scene (Philips)
  • 1967 Pour Un Amour Lointain (United Artists)
  • 1967 Maria Toledo Sings the Best of Luiz Bonfa (United Artists)
  • 1967 Luiz Bonfá (Dot)
  • 1967 Stevie & Eydie, Bonfá & Brazil (Columbia)
  • 1967 Luiz Bonfa Plays Great Songs (Dot)
  • 1968 Black Orpheus Impressions (Dot)
  • 1968 Bonfá (Dot)
  • 1969 My Way (Reprise)
  • 1969 I Got a Woman and Some Blues (A&M)
  • 1970 The New Face of Bonfa (RCA)
  • 1971 Sanctuary (RCA)
  • 1972 Introspection (RCA)
  • 1973 Jacarandá (Ranwood)
  • 1978 Bonfá Burrows Brazil (Cherry Pie)
  • 1989 Non-Stop to Brazil (Chesky)
  • 1992 The Bonfá Magic (Caju)
  • 1992 The Brazil Project (Private Music)
  • 1992 The Brazil Project 2 (Private Music)
  • 2005 Solo in Rio 1959 (Smithsonian Folkways)
  • 2015 Strange Message

References[edit]

External links[edit]