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Jazz - Released January 1, 1963 | Verve Reissues


World - Released February 22, 2005 | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Solo in Rio 1959 stands as a classic in the massive Luiz Bonfa catalog. Originally issued on the Cook label -- named for its owner, famed audio engineer Emory Cook -- it remained a favorite of the guitarist's throughout his lifetime. The Emory Cook Collection is housed and managed by the Smithsonian and as such, Folkways is able to re-release this masterpiece on CD with many added treasures -- there is an additional half-hour of music on the CD. The original featured 17 cuts. The new version contains 32, including an early version of "Samba de Orfeu." While it is true that it is the guitarist and composer's most famous composition and he recorded it many times, this is the only one on solo guitar. This is the first time it appears anywhere. Also included are two versions of the celebrated "Manhã de Carnaval." The second read is a more up-tempo and shorter version that is breathless in its beauty. Other well-known Bonfa compositions that have alternates here are "Perdido de Amor," "Sambolero," "Quebra Maer," and "Luzes do Rio." Another gem is the startling "Prelude to an Adventure in Space," with its hard swinging samba that transmutes into a dirge-like bolero on a dime. Solo in Rio 1959 offers an early hearing of Bonfa as fully developed, in possession of a stunning range of styles and techniques, all of them employable in the service of the song. The deep lyricism and harmonic richness of Bonfa's playing is unlike anything else before or since. Solo in Rio 1959 is a historic release, and one that will hopefully alert an entirely new generation to the work of this master of the guitar. In addition to the beautifully remastered music in this package, there is a fine biographical and musicological essay by Anthony Weller. ~ Thom Jurek

World - Released June 27, 2014 | Love Of Angy


Bossa Nova & Brazil - Released January 1, 2010 | Blaricum CD Company (B.C.D.) B.V.


World - Released February 24, 2015 | Bossa Nova Lounge Recordings


Latin America - Released December 14, 2017 | Resurfaced Records


Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Universal Music Division Decca Records France

While it's true that Luiz Bonfá is a forgotten name among many bossa nova lovers -- past and present -- a forgotten name rarely associated with his younger peers he influenced (Jobim, Gilberto, de Moraes) who took the music to international popularity. Bonfá is a ghost whose shadow looms large over the music, whether he is well known or not. He composed both main themes for Black Orpheus, which ended up on the hit soundtrack. Here Bonfá does what he does best: play an amazing guitar, arrange a series of uncredited session players, sing, and dig deep into the roots of bossa nova as it comes out of samba, but then return it changed but folded into the tradition. Tracks like "Samba de Duas Notas" ("Two Note Samba"), with its beautiful guitar/flute front line slipping around and through one another in the bridge, are typical of this man's artistry and innovative. The gorgeous ballad "Lila" offers a portrait of Bonfá the balladeer. His deep, fluid fingerpicking style colors each melodic phrase, shades the changes, and offers a harmonic and technical invention that guitarists like Tal Farlow would kill for. "Sudade Vem Correndo" comes off like a jazz tune with a horn section upfront and Bonfá leading the rhythm section, which includes a piano. He may get lost a little in the mix, which is ancient, but he's there setting the deep groove in the tune. His comping behind the pianist's solo actually gives him a wider palette to improvise upon. Ultimately, this is a beautiful set, one that singularly displays many but not all of Bonfá's gifts. It is deep bossa, but its airiness, light, and song-like qualities equal its technical excellence, and make it accessible to anyone interested in the music. [A Sunnyside reissue of the album added a four-cut EP called En Direct du Bresil ("Direct from Brazil"), recorded and issued the same year as the LP program, 1963.] ~ Thom Jurek

World - Released February 12, 2015 | Inma Records


Jazz - Released October 1, 1972 | RCA - Legacy

Brazilian guitar genuis Luiz Bonfá issued literally dozens of albums in his lifetime. He is widely celebrated as a composer, bandleader, and interpreter of popular songs from many traditions. His two selections on the bossa nova breakthrough soundtrack Black Orpheus' are among its most most seminal cuts. That all said, almopst no Bonfá recording reaches the dizzying -- if gently stated -- heights of his art the way Introspection does. Recorded in 1972, this album features eight of Bonfá's compositions played on solo guitar--nylon-string, electric, and a specially designed 12-string. There is deep emotion in each track, portrayed by his elegantly articulated phrasing in spare passages of warm, haunting, sometimes somber, always deeply romantic poetic imagery. From the graceful expression of of his classical enunciations on "Enchanted Mirror," where each line is mirrored with chromatic counterpoint, to the shifting scalar morphing in "Reflections," to the gloriously complex yet seamless display of arpeggios on "Rain," to the shimmering Charlie Byrd and Django Reinhardt quotations in "Leque," Bonfá's guitar embodies th whole of not only Brazilian tradition, but also jazz and classical music as well. These compositions sing; they carry the fire and intervallic dimensionality of improvisation and intricacies and subtleties of song. Introspection is one of two titles in Bonfá's catalog that are musts--the other is the fusion classic, Jacaranda. ~ Thom Jurek

Latin America - Released November 13, 2012 | Jazz Roots Records


World - Released September 18, 2015 | Eminent Legacy Records


Jazz - Released April 26, 2013 | Sandstone


Jazz - Released April 15, 2016 | A-Jazz Records


World - Released January 1, 1991 | Milestone

The durable Brazilian musician Luiz Bonfá recorded this album for the Caju Music label in 1991 in Brazil, where it was much honored, but Americans weren't made aware of its riches until 1993. Throughout, Bonfá's acoustic guitar is treated to differing tone shadings and backgrounds -- sometimes left all alone, sometimes fronting a samba band. Tracks like "Space Adventure," "Menina Flor," and "Fat Tuesday's Theme" employ unnervingly realistic orchestrations by Jota Moraes on some deftly handled synthesizers (yes, it can be done). Most of all, listeners are reminded of the remarkable vitality of Bonfá's civilized, wistful compositions, whether improvised on the spot like "Magic Passion," brought forth for the first time ("Smooth Dreams," "Samba Variations"), or resuscitated from his back catalog (like the tune for Elvis, "Almost in Love," now treated to a silky bossa nova groove). Perhaps the most valuable revival is the stunning jazz waltz "Sofisticada," which ought to be a standard like "Manha de Carnaval" (Toots Thielemans reportedly offered to trade his cherished "Bluesette" for it). A lovely, often dazzlingly imaginative recording from Brazil's elusive giant. ~ Richard S. Ginell

Jazz - Released October 3, 2014 | Epic


World - Released January 1, 2008 | Verve Reissues

There is something truly majestic in the guitar playing and composing of Luiz Bonfá. From solo dates such as 1959's Solo in Rio (issued stateside by Smithsonian Folkways) to his 1972 masterpiece, Introspection, his sound is as telltale as the two other Brazilian guitar greats, Baden Powell and Djalma de Andrade (aka Bola Sete). Bonfá's elegance in style is what sets him apart from even these great masters. There is something utterly unhurried and gentle about his manner of playing, even during its most intense moments or in the most decorative settings (there were a lot of those during the bossa craze). The Brazilian Scene, released in 1965 on the Philips imprint, sits right on the knife edge between something as wonderfully organic as his solo recordings and the more stylized Anglo projects that were flooding the bins at the time. This date was produced by Hal Mooney, who also served as co-arranger along with Bonfá. The Brazilian Scene set features 12 tunes, seven of which are Bonfá originals, and one an arrangement of a traditional song ("Malaguena Salerosa"). The rest are pop standards and some that would be (the Beatles' "Yesterday"). The studio group includes Bonfá's New York studio band, featuring the great drummer Hélcio Milito, bassist Donald Payne, and flutist Jerome Richardson, with strings and a chamber orchestra that were dubbed in later. Bonfá's group was recorded absolutely live from the floor; his guitar playing, full of gorgeous dual pizzicatos, popping bass notes, and extended chord voicings, was captured as it is with no overdubs. This may not seem unusual until you hear it. More often than not it does feel as if a minimum of two guitarists are playing -- check the fluid, kinetic dual pizzicatos and single notes in the traditional tune, where his bass notes ground a flitting attack of two- and then one-string leads amid his basslines, which also feel twinned. Other standouts include the dark edges of "Zomba," with its foreboding horns and dramatic strings. Bonfá moves through them with his minor-key melody playing out in old Brazilian folk dance style, where chords are folded amid twinned lead lines and a hypnotic bassline -- accented on the codas by Milito. It does have the feeling of gentle exotica because of the orchestrations, but Bonfá's playing removes the flowery edges in the tune. Of the pop standards, his reading of "That Old Black Magic" transforms the tune into a top-flight samba, with ticking triple-time percussion by Milito. The band performs this one without accompaniment from the orchestra, and it is among the set's highlights. As far as mid-'60s bossa goes, this one falls to the Yankee side of that a bit, but this is no easy listening date, either. This is colorful and polished Brazilian jazz performed by a crack group with tasteful -- if sometimes overly busy -- arrangements. ~ Thom Jurek

World - Released May 5, 2015 | Bossa Nova Lounge Recordings


Bossa Nova & Brazil - Released January 1, 1963 | BnF Collection

Hi-Res Booklet

World - Released April 4, 2015 | Prince Mikhail


World - Released March 8, 2014 | Recuerdos Olvidados