Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Paulo Moura (1932 - 2010)

Returning from a break without internet and news media I learned late last night that Paulo Moura has passed away on July 12 following a cancer desease (lymphoma), 77 years of age. The sad news was announced at his official website by André Vallias the following day and since then obituaries and appraisal articles have been published both in Brazil and the rest of the world. The music world has lost one of its greatest instrumentalists on the contemporary scene.

Paulo Moura was born in the interior of the state of São Paulo on July 15, 1932, as one of 10 siblings who all were taught to play different instruments by their father, himself a reed player. As a teenager Paulo moved to Rio de Jaineiro to study at the National School of Music and at the same time started to play in night clubs and on radio. By the late '50s he had won a spot as lead clarinetist in the orchestra of the Municipal Theater in Rio and at the same time he worked as an accompanist to visiting international artists. In 1978 he decided to quit the orchestra and from then on dedicated himself exclusively to a solo career. Over the next 30 years he made numerous recordings both under his own name and as an accompanist, he also composed music for television and films and occasionally appeared as an actor, in addition he further served as director of the Museum of Image and Sound for two years in the 1980s.

Paulo Moura was a master of both the clarinet and the saxophone excelling in different music styles covering jazz, choro, samba, bossa nova and classical. In 1992 he won a prize as best soloist in classical music, and in 2000 his live album dedicated to Pixinguinha was awarded a Latin Grammy. In 1962 Paulo Moura helped introducing the bossa nova in the US during a famous concert at Carnegie Hall together with Sergio Mendes a.o.. Later he had a close co-work with pianist Cliff Korman introducing their special mix of Gafieira and Jazz to an international public, and during his solo career he toured major parts of the world successfully. Marcello Gonçalves has expressed the versatility of Paulo Moura in short: "No matter where he was playing, he always maintained the same posture and this just added to his elegance."

I first learned about Paulo Moura from Mika Kaurismäki's documentary 'Brasileirinho, Choro in Rio' (2005) where he is featured as a soloist in sequences showing the gafieira/ballroom tradition alive, here is one of the memorable scenes showing Paulo Moura in great interplay with Daniela Spielman on soprano sax - the tune performed is "Chorinho pra Voce"

Paulo Moura had a distinct sound thanks to his Buffet Crampon Clear Lucite clarinet as documented in this video featuring a rendition of K-Ximbinho's "Ternura"

In remembrance of a great musician who has played an important part in the revival of choro on the contemporary music scene, here is a performance by Paulo Moura playing " Pro Paulo"

More info, discography, music and video material to be found at Paulo Moura's excellent website, click here