Luiz Bonfa’s Historical Solo In Rio 1959 Reissued by Smithsonian Folkways

Washington (District of Columbia), USA – Smithsonian Folkways Recordings reissued
a key album by bossa nova innovator and
jazz guitar great Luiz Bonfa. Solo in Rio 1959 is now available on CD for the
first time ever.

Most famous for writing jazz standards “Samba de Orfeu”
and “Manha de Carnaval,” both of which are featured here, this prolific
guitar legend seldom recorded solo. Bonfa once said, “I work strictly on
inspiration. I am not one of those who can say, ‘Now I will sit down and
compose for an hour
.'” Twelve of the songs included
are his rarely recorded improvisations or semi-improvisations.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has added fourteen bonus tracks to the
seventeen cuts on the original Cook Records LP, including the poignant
“A Brazilian in New York,” in which the guitarist offers an
impressionistic take on his 1957 arrival to the United States, and
Bonfa’s only released solo guitar version of “Samba de Orfeu.”

with several other prominent musicians, Luiz Bonfa created a new
synthesis of music in the late 1950s: bossa nova. “Brazilian popular
music was changing rapidly
,” writes Anthony Weller in the comprehensive
liner notes, “as the old forms acquired a languid, contemporary cool
which was eventually labeled bossa nova (‘the new knack,’ ‘the new
thing,’ ‘the new swing’). Bonfa was an architect of this sound, along
with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Baden Powell, and others. One
can debate the relative strength of its different roots – strains of
jazz; the rich tradition of Brazilian popular music of earlier eras;
elements of a South American classical tradition, particularly as
incarnated by Villa-Lobos – but at its heart were a dozen extraordinary
young musicians who listened to each other, and together heard life
unlike anyone before

Born in 1922 in Brazil, Bonfa first picked up the
guitar at age eleven. By the late 1930s, having studied with his mentor
Isaias Savio, he was playing in Rio de Janeiro’s creatively fertile club
scene, and he began his recording career in 1945. In 1957, Marcel Camus asked
the guitar master to contribute a tune to his film Black
. “The director originally rejected Manha de Carnaval as the
film’s main theme, but after coming up with what he felt was an inferior
second effort, Bonfa fought for his first tune and got his way, and
‘Manha de Carnaval’ became a global pop/jazz/folk standard
,” writes

At the time of this recording, Bonfa split his time between Rio
de Janeiro and New York City, absorbing a wide variety of sounds from
each locale.


Solo in Rio 1959