Zé Menezes (1921-2014)
|Zé Menezes (1921-2014)|
On July 31th this year Brazil lost one of its legendary and great musicians - Zé Menezes (José Menezes de França, b.1921), guitarist, composer and multi-string player died in hospital at age 93 in Teresópolis, Rio de Janeiro.
Zé Menezes began playing music as a child, and at eight he was invited by conductor Arlindo Cruz to play at cinemas as a professional. That year he wrote his first composition, "Meus Oito Anos." At 11, after playing with Cruz's orchestra, he joined the Banda Municipal de Juazeiro. After 1938, he was hired by Ceará Rádio Club as violonista (acoustic guitarist), forming his own regional group, which played for four years in that incarnation. In 1943 he was hired for Rádio Mayrink Veiga (Rio). There, Menezes had two weekly shows, where he solidified his career as a soloist. Menezes played at the Hotel Quitandinha (Petrópolis RJ) and, with the same group of people, in the group Milionários do Ritmo (in 1945). In the next year, he played at the Casablanca nightclub and was hired by Rádio Globo (Rio). Two years later, he joined Rádio Nacional (until 1960), where he formed a duo with violonista Garoto. With Luís Bittencourt as his stable partner, he had his composition "Nova Ilusão" recorded by Os Cariocas in 1948 and adopted as their theme song.
From the '40s through the '50s he recorded and performed on the radio regularly with Radamés Gnattali, in the Quarteto Continental, and later with the Quinteto Radamés. Upon the founding of TV Globo, he became its producer, arranger, and composer of soundtracks.
In 1959 Menezes formed the group Velhinhos Transviados, which recorded 13 LPs for RCA by 1971.In 1995 he released the CD 'Chorinho' in concert and in 1998 the CD 'Relendo Garoto', both still available on the InterCDRecords label. In his later career Menezes managed to implement remakes of his own compositions in new arrangements for the abz record label, which resulted in the release of three CDs from 2005-10 with the project title 'Autoral' - a sort of autobiography in music. A website dedicated to this project has the music uploaded and free accessible in streaming audio and as printed sheet with additional info on the arrangements, here
As documented in the two videos above, Zé Menezes mastered the electric guitar and currently this has inspired Rogério Borda, guitarist and professor in music at UNIRIO, to research Menezes' technique and write a complete method for electric guitar as played by Zé Menezes - this method will be released officially later this month.
Rogério Borda has made his study digital available for aspiring guitarists here
To end this small review of Zé Menezes' career I'll point you to a video featuring Menezes in one of his last public performances, a worthy sortié of a long and successful career, I think. Unfortunately, the video cannot be inserted, but here is the link