|Photo: Curtis McElhinney|
Oscar Castro-Neves, the celebrated Brazilian guitarist, arranger, and composer, died from complications of gastric cancer on Friday, September 27 in Los Angeles, California. He was 73-years-old.
Six decades of accomplishment and musical acclaim have demonstrated an inherent musical genius that has made Castro-Neves one of the world's most complete musicians of his generation. His native country, Brazil, honored him with title of "Officer of the Order of Rio Branco" in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the dissemination of Brazilian culture and music around the world.
The guitarist (born on May 15, 1940 in Rio de Janeiro) emerged in the early 1960s alongside Antonio Carlos Jobim, João Gilberto and a handful of other young composers, as one of the founding figures of the musical movement that became known worldwide as bossa nova. At the age of 16, Castro-Neves' first recorded song, "Chora Tua Tristeza," became a national hit in Brazil, and generated over fifty recordings by various artists. In 1962, a year before "The Girl From Ipanema" became a Top 10 hit, 22-year-old Castro-Neves' spearheaded the bossa nova invasion in the U.S., playing a central role as a performer at the historic debut bossa bova concert at Carnegie Hall.
Castro-Neves' quartet then toured in the company of the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet, the Stan Getz Quartet, and the Lalo Schifrin Trio, and in 1971 joined Sergio Mendes' Brazil '66 group as the featured guitarist, musical director and vocal coach. When he left the group in 1981, he had recorded more than 15 albums with Mendes, several of which he co-produced.
Castro-Neves performed as a guitarist on countless jazz and pop albums, including records from Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow, and Quincy Jones. His greatest commercial success came as a producer, with credits including: Grammy® winning cross-over album Soul of the Tango by Yo-Yo Ma; Color and Light: Jazz Sketches on Sondheim, a Top Jazz Album of the Year by Billboard Magazine and among the 10 Best Albums of the Year by Time Magazine; Joe Henderson's Grammy® nominated Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim; Harry Belafonte's platinum-selling album The Tradition of Christmas; as well as records by Toots Thielemans, Stan Getz and Paul Winter.
His film score credits include arrangements and orchestrations for Blame it on Rio, featuring Michael Caine and Demi Moore; Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; L.A. Story; Sister Act II; House Sitter; Dunston Checks In; He Said, She Said; Getting Even with Dad; and Gabriella; along with numerous television credits. Castro-Neves recorded as a Mack Avenue Records artist from 2003 until 2006, releasing All One and Playful Heart on the label.
Castro-Neves is remembered for his indefatigable enthusiasm, an infectious charm, and a passion for humanity that touched many. He is survived by his wife Lorraine, and two daughters, Felicia and Bianca.