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Chiquinho do Acordeon

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Biography

Chiquinho do Acordeon is an important name in modern Brazilian popular music, having helped shape it. The accordion, a popular instrument when most broadcast music in Brazil was of "country" feeling (sertaneja), it succeeded in being transposed to the modern times of bossa nova by the hands of do Acordeon. With his uncanny talent for grasping complex, sophisticated harmonies and arrangements, do Acordeon worked intensively as a solo artist and accompanist for the major names of Brazilian popular music. He is undoubtedly the father of modern accordion playing in Brazil.

Having started very early to play the accordion, he moved to Rio in the '40s. He was readily admitted to the most popular and powerful radio station of that time, Rádio Nacional. For the creation of the radio's show Um Milhão de Melodias, which carried a cosmopolitan inspiration and debuted on the air January 13, 1943, it demanded an original and distinctive Brazilian full orchestra, inspired in the American model of big bands. It would be an orchestra that would play music from every country and style, but always linked with Brazilian roots. do Acordeon was appointed to help provide this Brazilian "accent" for the historic Orquestra Brasileira de Radamés Gnatalli. This orchestra, gathering important names such as violonistas Garoto and Bola Sete and percussionists João da Baiana, Heitor dos Prazeres, and Bide, it also had three cavaquinhos, five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, three flutes, oboe, basson, clarinet, and harp, along with the sections of violins and cellos. Radamés Gnatalli, musical director for Rádio Nacional and a distinguished composer, orchestrator, and arranger, said about the accordionist, "Chiquinho, identified as a popular accordionist, has a fantastic musicality, an immense technical mastery for the execution of classic pieces." Because of this, Gnatalli would later write an accordion concerto specifically and dedicated to do Acordeon. do Acordeon figured that to be his first contact with Gnatalli, a classically trained musician who only later would be attracted to popular music (mainly because of Pixinguinha): "He loathed the accordion. But after our first meeting, he demanded that Continental had me on all his recordings. We were together almost 40 years." do Acordeon's first recording was with the Regional Claudionor Cruz at Star's studio in 1951. At the time, he had already accompanied the most popular artists of that time (such as Almirante, Carmem Miranda, Emilinha, Marlene, Chico Alves, and in fact, almost all solo artists who performed at the Rádio Nacional) in all kinds of groups, ranging from the Orquestra Brasileira to octets, septets, quartets, trios, and duos. This kept him as a most requested artist for recordings, having worked later with virtually every major name from every tendency in Brazil, such as Elisete Cardoso (samba-canção), Martinho da Vila (samba of the hills), Carlos Lyra (bossa nova), Marina Lima (contemporary pop/rock), and MPB-4 (MPB). In 1952, the radio's musical division director, Paulo Tapajós, created the show Música em Surdina, a sophisticated, mostly instrumental format, with the great Garoto on the violão, do Acordeon on the accordion, talented popular violinist Fafá Lemos sometimes joined by Vidal on the bass, and percussionist Bicalho. The show was suited for the end of the night's broadcast and they effectively closed the transmissions every night. They played Tin Pan standards together with Noel Rosa's compositions and the trio's collective creations, such as the choro "Relógio da Vovó" and the self-allusive baião "Nós Três. Already established as Trio Surdina, they started their Musidisc sessions, recording a number of albums for them. The song that may be considered the first bossa nova ever composed, Garoto's "Duas Contas," was recorded on the trio's first LP in 1953, establishing the group's artistic independence. Sometimes, due to contractual arrangements, they had to back singers under other names, such as Conjunto Fafá Lemos, as was the case for the accompaniment of Linda Batista's rendition of Lupicínio Rodrigues' "Vingança," from 1951 (RCA), or for her recording of Ary Barroso' "Risque" (RCA, 1952). The trio pioneered in the nascent wave of small ensembles triggered by the prohibition of gambling in Brazil by President Dutra in 1946. The consequence was the closing of all casinos, which until then were the most sophisticated social places, employing big orchestras and a great number of musicians. From then on, ensembles would have to adapt themselves to the smaller dimensions of small clubs and theaters, along with the smaller revenues of such places. In 1953, the first recording of "Ronda' (Paulo Vanzolini), considered the anthem of the city of São Paulo, was performed by do Acordeon, violonists Bola Sete, Garoto, Menezes, and clarinetist Abel Ferreira. do Acordeon also formed in that year his own group Chiquinho e seu Conjunto, in which he performed until his death. Next year, he joined the Sexteto de Radamés Gnatalli, also performing in that group until his passing. Under conductors/orchestrators Radamés Gnatalli, Lírio Panicali, Edino Krieger, Remo Usai, Guerra-Peixe, and others, he recorded numerous movie soundtracks and backed a great number of album recordings for major singers/instrumentalists. The LP Sambas, with compositions by Ary Barroso, released in May 1956 by Polydor, had the Trio Surdina as soloist, accompanied by full orchestra, with orchestration and conducting by Leo Perachi. do Acordeon also took part in the III Caravana de Música Brasileira, touring Europe in 1960 with the Sexteto de Radamés Gnatalli. In 1958, Gnatalli composed and dedicated to him his Concert for Accordion and Orchestra, recorded by do Acordeon on the awarded CD Radamés Gnatalli — Retratos. From 1963 to 1967, he was musical director for TV Excelsior. His most famous compositions include "São Paulo Quatrocentão, with Garoto, composed in tribute to the 400 years of the foundation of the city of São Paulo, which received several recorded interpretations by major artists. He was also recorded by instrumental artists, such as the distinguished Brazilian violonista Sebastião Tapajós ("Choro sim, por que Não," with Gilson Peranzzetta). His awards, among others, include Prêmio Sharp for the CD Radamés Gnatalli — Retratos and Record Award from Germany for the CD Noites Cariocas.

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Romeu Seibel

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