By David DacksOne of Brazil's most celebrated instrumentalists, and a key figure in Seu Jorge's career, Paulo Moura has died. After a long battle with cancer, Moura passed away on Monday night (July 12) at the age of 77 in Rio De Janeiro.
"Today I had a very sad day because my master has died" said Jorge, being interviewed for Exclaim!'s forthcoming August issue. "He's a big musician in Brazil, very respectable. He helped me so much and helped a lot of musicians in Brazil."
Moura (a saxophonist and clarinetist) was a boundary breaker. In his teens, he began performing as a soloist in theBrazilian Symphony Orchestra. Another early career highlight was his participation in a Bossa Nova night at Carnegie Hall in 1962 with Sergio Mendes. Moura and Mendes subsequently recorded with Cannonball Adderley, at that time one of the biggest-selling jazz artists. Moura also worked with Herbie Mann during this period
Moura's recordings tended more towards straight-up jazz, with less bossa influence, but his instrumental mastery attracted many accomplished musicians into his orbit. During the '70s, Moura worked with post-Tropicália notables such as Milton Nascimento. The material Moura cut during this period is still held in high regard by cratediggers.
Later in his career, Moura turned to revitalizing folk forms with jazz. His reinterpretations of choro master Pixinguinha earned him a Latin Grammy in 1999, the first Brazilian winner of the award.
He also encouraged young talent. After Jorge had been living on the street for three years, Moura took a shine to him and invited the musician to audition for the musical theatre in the University of Rio De Janeiro.
Recalls Jorge: "To me, he was like a parent. He was the first important person in music to really look at me and say, 'Okay, guy, you've got style. Let's see what I can do for you."
Jorge's subsequent acceptance was the first step in his internationally successful musical career.