Luiz Floriano Bonfá (17 October 1922 – 12 January 2001) was a Brazilian guitarist and composer. He was best known for the music he composed for the film Black Orpheus.
Luiz Floriano Bonfá was born on October 17, 1922, in Rio de Janeiro. He began studying with Uruguayan classical guitarist Isaías Sávio at the age of 11. These weekly lessons entailed a long, harsh commute (on foot, plus two and half hours on train) from his family home in Santa Cruz, in the western rural outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, to the teacher’s home in the hills of Santa Teresa. Given Bonfá’s extraordinary dedication and talent for the guitar, Sávio excused the youngster’s inability to pay for his lessons.
Bonfá first gained widespread exposure in Brazil in 1947 when he was featured on Rio’s Rádio Nacional, then an important showcase for up-and-coming talent. He was a member of the vocal group Quitandinha Serenaders in the late 1940s. Some of his first compositions such as “Ranchinho de Palha”, “O Vento Não Sabe”, were recorded and performed by Brazilian crooner Dick Farney in the 1950s. Bonfá’s first hit song was “De Cigarro em Cigarro” recorded by Nora Ney in 1957. It was through Farney that Bonfá was introduced to Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, the leading songwriting team behind the worldwide explosion of the great Bossa Nova in the late 1950s to 1970s, becoming a fever in the US. Bonfá collaborated with them and with other prominent Brazilian musicians and artists in productions of de Moraes’ anthological play Orfeu da Conceição, which several years later gave origin to Marcel Camus’ film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro in Portuguese). In the burgeoning days of Rio de Janeiro’s thriving jazz scene, it was commonplace for musicians, artists, and dramatists to collaborate in such theatrical presentations. Bonfá wrote some of the original music featured in the film, including the numbers “Samba de Orfeu” and his most famous composition, “Manhã de Carnaval” (of which Carl Sigman later wrote a different set of English lyrics titled “A Day in the Life of a Fool”), which has been among the top ten standards played worldwide, according to The Guinness Book of World Records.
As a composer and performer, Bonfá was at heart an exponent of the bold, lyrical, lushly orchestrated, and emotionally charged samba-canção style that predated the arrival of João Gilberto’s more refined and subdued bossa nova style. Jobim, João Donato, Dorival Caymmi, and other contemporaries were also essentially samba-canção musicians until the sudden, massive popularity of the young Gilberto’s unique style of guitar playing and expressively muted vocals transformed the music of the day into the music of the future. Camus’ film and Gilberto’s and Jobim’s collaborations with American jazzmen such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd did much to bring Brazilian popular music to the attention of the world, and Bonfá became a highly visible ambassador of Brazilian music in the United States beginning with the famous November 1962 Bossa Nova concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
Bonfá worked with American musicians such as Quincy Jones, George Benson, Stan Getz, and Frank Sinatra, recording several albums while in U.S. Elvis Presley sang a Bonfá composition, “Almost in Love” with lyrics by Randy Starr in the 1968 MGM film Live a Little, Love a Little. Also of note is his “The Gentle Rain”, with lyrics by Matt Dubey, “”Non-Stop To Brazil”” (recorded by Astrud Gilberto) and “Sambolero”. From 1990 to 1999, Bonfá worked with singer Ithamara Koorax on several recordings and concerts, appearing live with her as special guest at several venues in Rio de Janeiro such as Teatro Rival, BNDES Auditorium and Funarte-Sidney Miller Hall. They also recorded together, in 1996, the album Almost In Love – Ithamara Koorax Sings The Luiz Bonfá Songbook, featuring Bonfá on acoustic guitar plus special guests Larry Coryell, Eumir Deodato, Ron Carter, Marcos Suzano, and Sadao Watanabe. The sessions, produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro, were filmed for a Japanese TV broadcast presented by Sadao Watanabe.
Bonfá wrote soundtracks for two dozens of movies, such as Black Orpheus, O Santo Módico, Os Cafajestes, The Gentle Rain, Pour Un Amour Lointain, Le Ore dell’Amore, Carnival Of Crime and Prisoner Of Rio (on which he collaborated with arranger Hans Zimmer), among many others. He died of prostate cancer at 78 in Rio de Janeiro on January 12, 2001. At the time of his death, he was working in the soundtracks for a movie produced and starred by Karen Black and for a Broadway show titled Brazilian Bombshell based in the life of Carmen Miranda and to be starred by Sonia Braga. (wikipedia)
This is an album with another really good guitar (released in Spain same year as “Grandes Standards”, but for my taste there are too many strings … and that is a pity, because his guitar alone is already a pleasure !
Luiz Bonfa (guitar)
unknown orchestra conducted by Nick Perito
Alternate edition from Australia:
01. Born Free (Black/Barry) 3.02
02. Moon River (Mercer/Mancini) 3.18
03. Spanish Eyes (Kampfert/Singelton/Snyder) 2.26
04. Strangers In The Night (Kampfert/Singelton/Snyder) 3.05
05. Bubala (Bonfa) 2.04
06. The Exodus Song (Boone/Gold) 3.13
07. More (Newell/Oliviero/Ortolani) 2.49
08. Somewhere My Love (Webster/Jarre) 3.09
09. Yellow Bird (Keith/Bergman/Luboff) 2.34
10. A Day In The Life Of A Fool (Manhã de Carnaval) (Sigman/Bonfa) 3.16
11. Seville (Bonfa) 2.14
12. A Man And A Woman (Bocouh/Lai/Keller) 2.18
Alternate frontcovers from Spain and Japan: