In Memoriam: Bassist Sérgio Brandão

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Brazilian bassist and music producer Sérgio Brandão passed away on April 2 due to gastric interstitial complications, according to a press release. He was 65.

Born Sérgio Luiz Brandão, he was a respected behind-the-scenes legend and conduit of Brazilian music outside of Brazil.

Known as the “Brazilian Jaco” in honor of comparisons to the legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, Brandão had a hand in hundreds of landmark recordings over his 40-year career.

For example, Quincy Jones hired Brandão to co-produce the album Juntos by Ivan Lins in the 1980s. The album featured major artists from the United States and Brazil including George Benson, Patti Austin, Elis Regina, Djavan, Paulinho da Viola, Beth Carvalho, Marcus Miller and Tim Maia.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brandão began playing guitar at age 11. At 17, he switched to acoustic bass, and shortly after that, electric bass. He attended the Villa Lobos Institute in Rio, where he studied music theory. During his teens and early 20s, Brandão refined his technique while working with the likes of Joao Bosco, Ivan Lins and Johnny Alf.

In 1978, he moved to New York and became a sought-after bassist on the Brazilian and Latin scenes. He toured and recorded with a number of jazz notables. In 1982, Brandão joined Jan Lucien, with whom he toured and recorded with before joining Flora Purim and Airto Moreira in 1984. He collaborated with them for three years, touring and recording in addition to being part of the New York Samba All Stars in 1985–’86. That high-profile group included the likes of Jaco Pastorius, Michel Camilo, Claudio Roditi and other top names in Latin jazz.

In the late ’80s and ’90s, Brandão joined forces with Paquito D’Rivera, which later led to performances with Herbie Mann, Chico Freeman, Naná Vasconcelos and Trilok Gurtu, Tania Maria and others.

In 1994, Brandão set up a business in New York with Jose Gallegos from Colombia forming Gallco Enterprises Inc., a production company specializing in soundtracks for film as well as jingles for radio and television, all with Latin and Brazilian flavor.

Brandão won a number of awards, including a Latin Grammy in 2006 for his work on the Sérgio Mendes album Timeless.

He died with his wife, Zorina Rodionova, by his side and lifelong friend Dolly Garcia holding vigil via Skype from New York. DB



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June 2021
Vijay Iyer
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