João Donato, the Brazilian composer, musician, producer and bossa nova pioneer who went on to bring music to the Americas, died Monday in Rio de Janeiro. he was 88 years old.
Donato He belonged to a band of Rio de Janeiro musicians, including Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto, and guitarist Luis Bonfa, who developed the subtle swing and sophisticated harmonies of bossa nova in the mid-1950s.
But Mr. Donato did not limit himself to any genre. In his decade-long recording career from the 1950s to the present, he has released nearly 30 albums as a leader, and has collaborated with a wide range of artists on many more. Although he was best known as a keyboardist, he was also a singer, accordionist and trombonist.
Mr. Donato as a pianist was known for the following blends. Cheerful, relentlessly syncopated, harmonically complex left hand A relaxed and sure right hand melody. As a composer, producer and arranger, he has always, and with his playfulness, blended and expanded idioms and production styles.he once said he has “People who are interested in funky ideas.”
Mr. Donato played MPB (Brazilian popular music is widely known. The letter stands for “Musica Popular Brasileira”), jazz, funk, salsa, American pop, and pan-American hybrids. These were entirely his own. He has worked with generations of Brazilian musicians, including singer and movie star Carmen Miranda. The singers are Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Milton Nascimento and Marisa Monte.and the Rapper Marcelo D2.
He has also recorded with A Tribe Called Quest’s Eddie Palmieri, Michael Franks, Mongo Santamaria and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. Throughout his life he pursued new grooves.
Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva said on Twitter:Joao Donato found music in everything. He innovated, going through samba, bossa nova, jazz and foro, building something unique in the mix of rhythms. He continued to create and innovate until the end. “
João Donato de Oliveira Neto was born on August 17, 1934 in Rio Branco, the capital of Acre. He started playing the accordion and writing songs as a child. He moved with his family to Rio de Janeiro in 1945 and began playing professionally as a teenager.
Donato began leading his own group in the early 1950s while also working as a sideman. He played accordion on Luis Bonfa’s first album, released in 1955, as part of a studio band that also included Antonio Carlos Jobim. Jobim produced Donato’s debut album “Cha Dansante” (1956), and Donato wrote songs with João Gilberto, such as “Minha Saudade,” which became a Brazilian standard.
By the end of the 1950s, however, Mr. Donato’s preferred style had become so complex that audiences complained that he could not dance to it, and it became difficult to find work in Brazil. He took a job supporting Carmen Miranda at a Lake Tahoe resort and moved to the United States.
In the 1960s he was welcomed by Latin and jazz musicians. He recorded with Cal Chadel, Astrud Gilberto (who died in June), Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria and Eddie Palmieri. (He played trombone in Mr. Palmieri’s La Perfecta, a brassy salsa band that Mr. Palmieri called a “trombanga.”)
Vibraphonist Dave Pike recorded an entire album of Donato’s work. “Bossa Nova Carnival” In 1962, saxophonist Bud Shank appointed Mr. Donato responsible for his 1965 album. “Bud Shank and His Brazilian Friends” “This is Joanne Donato’s baby,” Shank wrote in the liner notes. “I’ve let him handle all the issues, so I can just relax and play.”
On his albums for US labels, Donato incorporates not only Brazilian influences but also jazz and Caribbean influences. his pivotal 1970 album, “bad donato” was a radical turn into funk, fusing melodies and rhythms with Brazilian roots with electric keyboards and wah guitars. Keyboardist and arranger Eumir Deodato, who collaborated with Donato on this album, made Brazilian funk a worldwide hit with his version. “Thus said Zarathustra” (2001).“
Donato returned to Brazil in 1973. a friend persuaded him To record songs with lyrics, not just instrumentals, but containing his own understated but serious vocals. His melodic and lighthearted 1973 album, “Chem-e-Chem” It wasn’t an immediate hit, but it has been widely praised over the years. In 2007, Brazil’s Rolling Stone magazine included the song among the 100 greatest Brazilian albums.
Mr. Donato’s new lyricists included two leading figures in the determined and eclectic Brazilian cultural movement known as Tropicaria. Caetano Veloso turned “O Sapo” (“Frog”) into “Frog” with Portuguese lyrics. “A la” and Gilberto Gil, who contributed lyrics to many of Donato’s 1975 albums. “Ruger Commu”. Donato also wrote a song whose lyrics were written by his brother Licias Nio Oliveira.
For the next two decades, Mr. Donato recorded almost entirely as a sideman.Recorded by singer Gal Costa “A Run” For their 1974 album Cantor, they hired Mr. Donato as the arranger and bandleader for that album and subsequent tour.
Donato has also recorded extensively with important Brazilian musicians such as Jorge Ben, João Bosco, Chico Buarque and Martinho da Vila. He continued to perform his own music and in 1986 released his live album Reiliadas. However, Bebel did not return to his own studio to work on his albums until 1994’s release of Koisa Stao His Simples (Thatch Simple Things), even as he continued working on sessions with songwriters such as Gilberto and Nazis. Marisa Monte.
The albums Donato made after returning to solo activity were unpredictable and diverse. Some returned to his fusion of bossa nova and jazz. Singers such as Wanda Sir, Paula Morelenbaum, Maria Teeta and Joyce also participated. Other titles reflected Donato’s penchant for hybrid music, such as “Burchanga” (2017) and “Sambollero” (2010), which won the Latin Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album. He also received a Latin Grammy Award for his Lifetime Achievement in 2010.
In 2017, Mr. Donato produced a funk album centered on synthesizers, “Synthetiza Mall” His son, Joao Donato, known professionally as Donatinho, survives. Other survivors include his wife Yvon Belén and daughters. Jodelle and Joana Donato. He lived in Rio de Janeiro.
In 2021, Donato will jazz is deada Los Angeles-based project by Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Young, included on the album “Jazz Is Dead 7” In 2022 he released “Serotonina” A lighthearted pop-jazz album featuring his electric piano and clavinet.
Veloso took to Twitter to summarize Donato’s music with admiration. that, as he wrote, “The ultimate achievement of extreme complexity within extreme simplicity.”
Anna Ionova Contributed to the report.