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Milton Banana

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Milton Banana is the musician who invented the bossa nova drumming style. An extremely busy session man during the first period of bossa nova, he recorded the historic Chega de Saudade (João Gilberto's debut album), the equally historic Getz-Gilberto, and recorded extensively with Tom Jobim, João Donato, and many others. He also performed gigs every night with people like Luís Eça, Johnny Alf, Roberto Menescal, Carlos Lyra, Ed Lincoln, Newton Mendoça, Claudete Soares, Baden Powell, Sérgio Mendes, Luís Bonfá, Bola Sete (in Punta del Este, Uruguay), and others. Milton Banana started to be interested in music very early in life, especially percussion, and was always a fan of Orquestra Tabajara. A self-taught musician, soon he was playing with several dance bands, such as Steve Bernard's, Djalma Ferreira's, Gerardi e Seu Conjunto Rex, and others. In 1955, he joined Waldir Calmon's group, performing at the Arpège nightclub (Rio). Soon after, he went on to Djalma Ferreira's group, Os Milionários do Ritmo, which performed regularly at the Drink nightclub. In 1956, he joined the Luis Eça Trio, playing at the focal point of bossa nova, the Plaza nightclub. In 1959, Milton Banana debuted as a recording artist, participating inJoão Gilberto's first album, Chega de Saudade. In 1962, he participated in the important show Encontro (produced by Aluísio de Oliveira), together with João Gilberto, Tom Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, and Os Cariocas, at the Au Bon Gourmet nightclub (Rio). In that same year, he traveled to Argentina with João Gilberto, where they spent a season at the 676 nightclub. In November, he went to New York and played at the Carnegie Hall Bossa Nova Festival. In 1963, he played the drums on the Getz-Gilberto album and toured with João Gilberto, João Donato (piano), and Tião Neto (bass) through Italy and France. Returning to Brazil, he formed his group, the Milton Banana Trio. At that time it was very unusual for a drummer to lead a group. The trio, which had several different lineups, recorded nine albums for Odeon and some more for RCA, another rare accomplishment for a Brazilian drummer. Some of those LPs have been reissued as CDs, such as Balançando com o Milton Banana Trio, Sambas de Bossa: Milton Banana, Os Originais: Milton Banana Trio, and Ao Meu Amigo Tom. In 1965, Milton Banana accompanied João Gilberto in his Brazil performances. In 1977, he performed, together with João Donato, in the group Fogueira 3, playing Afro-sambas. He scaled back his activities, but occasionally performed his solo acts until his death. ~ Alvaro Neder