Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Brazilian drummer and percussionist Dom
Um Romão died July 27 in Rio de Janeiro, at age 79. The pioneering
percussionist had suffered a stroke on July 24, during a recording session
with pianist Ricardo Leão.
He was buried in the Mesquita (Baixada Fluminense) cemetery, in his hometown
of Rio. Romão is survived by a son, Cleber, who lives in
the United States.
Born August 3, 1925, in Rio de Janeiro, Dom Um Romão began his musical
career in the late 1940s, playing drums at dance halls and cabarets in Rio De
Janeiro. He was later hired by the Rádio Tupi’s orchestra. In the 1950s,
he formed the Copa Trio.He appeared on Elizeth Cardoso’s album Canção do Amor Demais, an
essential bossa nova album, which featured music by Tom Jobim and the guitar of
In the 1960s Dom Um Romão joined Sérgio Mendes’ jazz ensemble. His first
album, Dom Um, came out in 1964. The following year he moved to the
United states, where he continued to work with Sérgio Mendes and participated in
countless recording sessions.
His international profile became more visible in 1971, when he replaced Airto
Moreira in the legendary fusion band Weather Report.
In the 1980s he moved to St. Gallen,
Switzerland. In the 90s, he spent more and more time in
Brazil, participating in recordings and workshops. In 1997 he
recorded Rhythm Traveler.
Throughout his career, Dom Um Romão worked with such artists as Cannonball
Adderley, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Helen Merrill,
McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Astrud Gilberto, Walter Wanderley, Stanley Turrentine,
Flora Purim, Luiz Henrique and Ithamara Koorax.
Percussionist Bobby Sanabria recently recalled his encounter with Dom Um
Romão in a Latin jazz list serve: “I remember well his studio/rehearsal
space/loft/club in New York City called “Black Beans.” It was indeed a gathering
place for great music and times. Dom had a machine that I believe was for making
shoes that he stored near the stage there. It had a gigantic wheel and Dom
utilized it as a percussion instrument. This was during the heyday of the loft
scene in New York City which was very exciting. Dom stored all of his
percussion gear there and if he knew you, you could borrow whatever you needed.
He was a great all around Brazilian percussionist and drum set player and along
with Airto he was responsible for the general public becoming aware of the
possibilities for “color” with Brazilian percussion and the rise of it
being utilized in fusion oriented groups.”