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AT 81, LEGENDARY JAZZ PIANIST DONATO RELEASES ALL-NEW RECORD WITH AN ELECTRIC PULSE

One of the greatest Brazilian jazz pianists, João Donato has been an essential figure in Brazilian Music and American Jazz for more than six decades. In 2016, two years after celebrating his 80th birthday, and full of creative energy, he's relasing his first record of new compositions in more than a decade, "DONATO ELÉTRICO", created with an electric pulse, using old style approaches to find new musical paths.

A key element in helping put forward the first wave of Brazilian modern music, alongside generation peers and friends Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, Donato started his career in Rio de Janeiro in the 50s, that mythical time and place when Bossa Nova was created. If João was the voice and Jobim was the songs, Donato has always been the music. With his mean rhythmic sense, he taught important lessons for his friend João Gilberto to develop his delicate, jazzy acoustic guitar style. With his perfect gift for melodies, he was always Jobim's own first choice to sit at the keys - like in their appearance in National American TV, on the Steve Allen Show in 1964, or when producing Astrud Gilberto's first solo record (for Verve Records, in 1965) after the accidental success of the "Girl from Ipanema".



Always ahead, Donato is as big and undeniably a lover of melodies as his youth friends, and yet at the same time ever ready for what's new, different and interesting, constantly exploring beyond any genres. After helping invent Bossa Nova in Rio in the 50s, Donato moved to the States to help invent latin jazz at the turn of the 60s, writing tunes and arrangements and playing piano and trombone alongside the likes of Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Cal Tjader, in records and appearances live in New York and California.




Since his teen years a fan of West Coast Jazz, Donato ended up becoming part of that scene (yet another that he helped evolve before soon continuing to spread his music elsewhere), releasing solo albums in the US like "Sambou, Sambou" and "New Sound of Brazil", sharing the bill live (and planning a record together for Pacific Jazz that never passed the stages of first demos) with Chet Baker (until the night mid-season when the trumpet player arrived with his teeth lost in a fight with drug dealers), also having tunes like his "The Frog" become hits with Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, not to mention having his compositions recorded by the likes of Herbie Mann, Cannonball Adderley, Wes Montgomery, even Jacques Brel.



In 1970 and 1972, right before leaving the States after more than a decade living in California, he recorded two legendary albums, "A Bad Donato" and "Donato/Deodato", with the help of musicians like Eumir Deodato, Ray Barreto, Randy Brecker, Jimmy Cleveland, Pete Candoli and Chuck Domanico. Influenced by James Brown, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, the records showed some early jazz-funk, psychedelic and electric, with the unique Donato-tinge - keeping his love for simplicity in the center, surrounded with kaleidoscopic rhythms, solos and arrangements.



Back in Brazil, during the seventies, he became an important element in the development of the so-called MPB style, being sought after by and becoming partners with Marcos Valle, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Marku Ribas and others in a handful of great songs, many of them national hits, while also arranging, producing and/or playing with Gal Costa, Nara Leão, Emilio Santiago, Os Tincoãs, Nana Caymmi and Wilson das Neves, among many others.



After releasing a couple more classic solo records in the 70s, "Quem é Quem" and "Lugar Comum", Donato has been since the eighties enjoying a regular career as an acoustic jazz pianist, playing his compositions live around the world with his trio or quintet.
Now, at 81, Donato steps ahead once again. In his new album "Donato Elétrico", he immerses himself in the old-school process of creating with a band live in the studio while playing electric pianos and analogue synthesizers, like in his classic 70s records - but filled with new ideas. 

Donato plays vintage keyboards like Fender Rhodes, Moog and Clavinet, accompanied by power brass and mellow strings, guitar and bass grooves, funky beats and Afrobrazilian percussion, alongside young musicians from the contemporary Brazilian music scene (in a total of 25 players, including the funky big band Bixiga 70 and musicians connected to Céu, Curumin, Tulipa Ruiz, Lucas Santtana, Metá Metá, Otis Trio, Forró in the Dark).

 
"Donato Elétrico" was produced by Ronaldo Evangelista and recorded in 2015 mainly in São Paulo, partly in New York, being mixed in São Paulo by the North-American Victor Rice and mastered in the States by the Brazilian Felipe Tichauer. The record is being released in Brazil in March 2016 by the SeloSesc label and is expected to be available online internationally for streaming and digital downloads in a few months.
 
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