Born: September 2, 1917 - Miracatu, in the countryside of São Paulo, Brazil
Died: July 26, 1995 - Van Nuys, California
The Brazilian guitarist, Laurindo Almeida (Laurindo de Almeida), started his music career playing the guitar at serestas (serenades). In 1935, he moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he performed in two of the most prominent music venues of that period - Casino da Urca and Rádio Mayrink Veiga. He was also a prolific composer and wrote several choros and waltz tunes, some of which included the collaboration of the renowned guitarist Garoto. He was famous in his native country as a classical Spanish guitar player.
When the Government made gambling illegal in Brazil and several casinos were closed down, including the Casino da Urca, Laurindo Almeida, who at that time was regarded as one of the finest guitarists in Brazil, moved to the USA in 1947 by invitation of Stan Kenton. He joined Kenton's band during the height of its success in the 1940's, then was employed as a studio musician. His jazz work was first widely exposed during a spell with Kenton. Although continuing his film and television work, Almeida also took many opportunities to play jazz, joining forces with bassist Harry Babasin, altoist Bud Shank and drummer Roy Harte in 1953. The work of this group anticipated many of the hallmarks of the bossa nova craze which came a few years later. In 1949, he recorded the first of a series of albums. In 1953 he recorded, with Bud Shank, two albums called "Brazilliance" for the World Pacific label. He also recorded with Baden Powell, Stan Getz and Herbie Mann, among others, and recorded for film and television. He played in orchestras and shows, and consolidated his solo career. He had an impressive and versatile career as an arranger and performer.
In the 1960’s, Laurindo Almeida was a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet. In 1974 he gained further appreciation when he was teamed with bassist Ray Brown, drummer Chuck Flores and Shank to form the chamber Jazz group The L.A. Four. Records by this group, with Flores replaced successively by Shelly Manne and Jeff Hamilton, and later teamings with Shank in duo performances and with fellow guitarists Larry Coryell and Charlie Byrd, show Almeida to have lost none of the distinctive style that sets his work apart from the mainstream of jazz guitar. L.A. Four disbanded in 1982.
It was during the 1960's when Laurindo Almeida enjoyed his greatest recognition, winning 6 Grammy Awards for his work: in 1959 for his performance on "Danzas", in 1960 for "The Spanish Guitars Of Laurindo Almeida" and "Conversations With The Guitar". The following year he won Grammy Awards for Best Engineered Album, Classical and Best Chamber Music Performance with "Discantos" and "Reverie For Spanish Guitars" and in 1962 further honours with nominations with "Viva Bossa Nova!" in the Best Performance By An Orchestra For Dancing and Best Jazz Performance categories and a third nomination with "The Intimate Bach" (Best Classical performance). In 1964 the album "Guitar From Ipanema" won the grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance, in 1972 he was nominated for the Best Soloist award with "The Art Of Laurindo Almeida". He also won several other prizes awarded by the record and film industry.
Laurindo made over 40 albums abroad, and participated in around 800 movie sountracks. He worked until the very last days of his life, and recorded his last CD, "Naked Sea", with Danny Welton, two weeks before passing away.