Pianist, composer and arranger Eumir Deodato in a photo from the booklet of Deodato 2, the Brazilian artist's second album in the USA. Photo- Duane Michals : CTI Records
Pianist, composer and arranger Eumir Deodato in a photo of the booklet of "Deodato 2", the second album by the Brazilian artist in the USA. Photo: Duane Michals / CTI Records

For those who are unaware of the importance of Eumir Deodato, a few facts: he had just turned 18 when a certain Antônio Carlos Jobim commissioned his services to orchestrate songs for one of his inaugural albums. Early and thoughtful, Eumir also helped form another great Brazilian arranger, pianist Cesar Camargo Mariano, before releasing Prelude (today's theme in Quintessência), debut album by Eumir Deodato, made at the invitation of CTI's boss, Creed Taylor (hence the name of the label: the initials plus the "incorported"), Deodato, however, before debuting exuberant, via CTI, had previously written arrangements for two of his idols, guitarist Wes Montgomery and Frank “The Voice” Sinatra.

But Eumir Deodato de Almeida, the child prodigy's given name, is much more than that. From a professor of samba-jazz, leading the group with the academic name, to “Ambassador do Funk”, an epithet attributed to him in the USA, Deodato is one of the most complete talents to emerge in that inspired Brazil of the early 1960s. arranger, producer and musician, conquered the world. He has sold over 25 million albums and has become one of the most sought after artists in the world's music industry. Even the singer Bjork, from a completely adverse musical field, requested Deodato's arranger services on the albums Homogenic, Post eTelegram.

Prelude album cover. Photo - Publicity : CTI Records
Cover of the album "Prelude". Photo: Disclosure / CTI Records

The first chapter of this global consolidation was written with Prelude. As the title suggests, the LP was just the beginning of an impeccable career. Spurred on by Deodato's arrangement to Also Sprach ZarathustraPrelude sold millions of copies and reached number three on the Billboard Pop chart. The secret? The unique and funky appropriation of the Richard Strauss theme from the version by Karl Bohm and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra that is present on the soundtrack of 2001: Uma Odisseia no Espaço, by Stanley Kubrick.

Produced by Creed Taylor and recorded between September 12 and 14, 1972 in the legendary studio of producer Rudy Van Gelder, the LP's sound engineer, the LP was released in January 1973. If the producer and sound engineer were more that unsuspected, what to say about the team of musicians gathered for the studio sessions?

Take a breath, dear reader: Ron Carter and Stanley Clarke (double bass); Ray Barretto (congas); Billy Cobham (drums); Hubert Laws. Phil Bodner, Romeo Penque and George Marge (flutes); Jay Berliner and John Tropea (guitars); Airto Moreira (percussion, read Quintessência's post about the album Fingers); Charles McCracken, Seymour Barab and Harvey Shapiro (cellos); Peter Gordon and Jim Buffington (French Horn); Garnett Brown, George Starkey, Paul Faulise and Wayne Andre (trombones); John Frosk, Mark Markowitz, Marvin Stamm and Joe Shepley (trumpets); Emanuel Vardi and Al Brown (violas); Elliot Rossoff, Emanuel Green, Gene Orloff, Harry Lookosfsy, Paul Gershman, Max Ellen and David Nadien (violins).

As for Deodato, it was up to him to pilot two instruments with his usual mastery: acoustic piano and electric piano, in the case of the latter, the legendary Fender Rhodes Mark I. The arrangements are also all by Carioca. And they are impressive for their skill in transforming traditions without committing heresy. With the same reverence present in the reinterpretation of Strauss, Deodato also subverted the work of one of the most influential composers for bossa nova, Claude Debussy, in Prelude To Afternoon of a Faun. And he did the same with an American song standard, Baubles, Bangles and Beads, by George Forrest and Robert Wright, a duo that also gave the world the classic Strangers in Paradise.

And what about Deodato's own compositions? Carly & CaroleSpirit of Summer (theme that was pilfered from the movie soundtrack The Exorcist) to September 13(written in partnership with drummer Billy Cobham on the second day of recording the album, hence the name) are irresistible, on the first listen - despite the other themes, more used to erudite arrangements, demanding greater dedication from the listener, in the old and healthy album logic that grows with each new listen.

Prelude was followed by another masterpiece, Deodate 2, and paved the way for a series of North American albums, all infused with Eumir Deodato's sophisticated art of creation and reinterpretation. To those who don't know his discography, especially the albums he made previously in Brazil, good advice is: run after them now!


listen to the album Prelude in full

See Eumir Deodato and orchestra performing on Italian TV RAI

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