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Eugenio

The Music of Luiz Bonfá

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Luiz Floriano Bonfá was born in Rio de Janeiro in October 17, 1922 and died in January 12, 2003 in the same city. Bonfá was one of the most iconic musicians of the Bossa Nova movement in 1960's and an accomplished songwriter. His most successful song is Manhã de Carnaval, which was part of the famous movie Black Orpheus and has been recorded hundreds of times. What most people don't know is that Bonfá is also the author of numerous other songs that became famous, like "Almost in Love", which was recorded by Elvis Presley.

Luiz Bonfá, unlike the vast majority of his bossa nova fellows, would use the guitar not only for accompaniment, but also as a soloist instrument. Bonfá was musician with very interesting and distinctive ideas on how to play the instrument. He had a smooth, effortless way of playing the guitar that was very seductive. Once in a while he would also hum while playing. Bonfá managed to mix a lot of different musical influences in a melting pot that would make them all sound natural.

Here's a rare video of Bonfá playing one of his own compositions, Sambolero. After the short introduction, we can see Bonfá's refined technique and interesting ideas. He uses the noises created by his nails on the basses as part of the music (03:45) and manages to keep an absolutely precise rhythm, clean and sweet melody accompanied by some nice harmonic ideas.

Here's one more excerpt of Bonfá playing one more of his compositions: Pernambuco, which is a baião, a rhythm that's very typical of that part of Brazil.

Pernambuco (Luiz Bonfá):

Now Bonfá again, mixing different ideas. This song is called Bonfabuloso (a pun with "Bonfá" + "Fabulous") and starts like a more traditional waltz and becomes purely jazzistic. Pay special attention on how Bonfá manages to keep the bass and chord lines working almost like two separate instruments.

Bonfabuloso (Luiz Bonfá):

One more excerpt of another song that was a big hit: Samba de Orfeu (Luiz Bonfá).

And last, but not least, Manhã de Carnaval, played by Bonfá himself in a sambolero fashion.

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Does anyone know anything about the Bonfa CD Moods? It was supposedly released by Guitar Solo in 1993. I've never seen a copy or seen one listed for sale anywhere online.

Thanks!

--Frank

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GSP sometimes holds the recordings for a very long time. Last year they released Raphael Rabello's Cry My Guitar, which was recorded in 1994. I think that might be the case with Bonfá's.

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Thanks Eugenio! From what little I know, it does seem that the CD was released. It was listed in an old catalog of theirs that I came across. I'll have to send a note and see if there might be a chance of a re-release. I think there would be a lot of interest now.

Take care!

--Frank

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I've been a big Luiz Bonfa fan for many years. It was great to see the videos and those are real treasures. I happen to have one of his album from the 60's(?) called, Softly...Luiz Bonfa and his guitar. It is one of my favorites and continues to blow me away. He was one of the best Brazilian guitar players and composers in my opinion.

:worshippy:

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Another great classic video. I particularly liked the performance of, Manha de Carnaval. That is one of my favorite pieces and usually I don't hear the version with vocals.

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