Brazilian arranger, composer and multi-instrumentalist Moacir Santos is best known for his talent for writing, but he first came to fame as a player. Born in rural Brazil (in Pernambuco), he moved around the country as a performer, having learned banjo, guitar and mandolin as well as some brass and reed instruments from playing in bands. He was known primarily as a sax player with an affection for Lester Young, Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. He worked in radio orchestras (serving a notable stint at the largest Brazilian station at the time, Radio Nacional) as well as military, ballroom and touring bands. Around this time, he began to gain recognition for his arranging and writing and began composing soundtracks for Brazilian films. His most famous work in this regard, however, is Amor no Pacifico (Love in the Pacific), and its success prompted him to travel to the U.S., debuting his music in New York City before eventually settling in Southern California (Pasadena, specifically). He taught from his home and was something of an "unknown" here until being "discovered" by Horace Silver.
Several of his compositions have resurfaced in the recent albums Ouro Negro and Choros & Alegria. The latter was his last album; the former features several arrangements by Mario Adnet and Ze Nogueira of Santos's "Coisas" ("Things"), which was the title and concept of his debut as a leader in 1965.
"I always had anxiety about producing music with the erudite cataloguing, like 'Opus 3, No. 1.' When Baden Powell came to study with me and invited me to participate in an album [...], the recording engineer asked me the name of the music, and I answered: 'It's that one thing...' That's when the idea to number the music occurred to me."He passed away on August 6th at 80 years old.
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