Born: June 29, 1915; Sao Paulo, Brazil
Died: May 3, 1955
Garoto was an underrated genius of popular music. When Brazilian songs were into simpler harmonies and the grandiloquent, dramatic discourse of the betrayed lovers and the likes, Garoto was composing "Duas Contas," a song which, in terms of harmony, interpretation and lyrics, can very well be considered the precursor of bossa nova. That was in the decade of 1940, several years before Laurindo de Almeida's (he himself a former partner of Garoto's)Read more own experimentations with a new guitar rhythm, and João Gilberto's own perfecting of that previous discoveries.
Garoto was a son of Portuguese immigrants Antônio Augusto Sardinha and Adosinda dos Anjos Sardinha. His father played Portuguese guitar and violão (acoustic guitar), his brother Inocêncio was also a violonista and singer and his older brother Batista played the banjo and other instruments. Batista was his first inspiration, having received from him his first instrument, a banjo. Having to start to work very early, due to the precarious situation of his family after his father becoming ill, at 11 he was already an assistant at a musical instrument retailer. At the same time his career as instrumentalist began, at the Regional Irmãos Armani, being known as "Moleque do Banjo" ("the Banjo Kid"). Soon he would join his brother Inocêncio's group, Conjunto dos Sócios, in 1927. In that year he began to present himself in solo acts in cafes, accompanied by Ariovaldo Pires because he was an underage. In 1929, at the Palácio das Indústrias, had the first opportunity, playing side by side with famous musicians such as Canhoto, Zezinho and Mota, in radio shows sponsored by General Motors. A while after they formed the Zé Maria orchestral group, an soon Garoto joined Pinheirinho Barreto and Aluísio Silva Araújo, recording "Zombando da morte," which was a major hit.
Meanwhile, the artistic scene was concentrated in Rio de Janeiro. Was the period known as the "Golden Age" of the Brazilian song, with the major activity surrounding the radio stations and recording companies based in that city. São Paulo had a minor share of incipient broadcasting and recording facilities, which were where Garoto began his artistic enterprise. He began to record at the end of the 20s, accompanied by his professor Paraguassu (Roque Ricciardi), the most successful paulista (from São Paulo) musician. Established singer, having appeared in several movies, Paraguassu was the best passport for show biz that Garoto could have. With him and Batista Júnior (father of Dircinha and Linda Batista), played all around upstate São Paulo. Then was hired by Rádio Record, sharpening his instrumental abilities in those incipient, improvised shows of the dawn of radio broadcasting in Brazil.
In 1930 Garoto records his first solo album, through Parlophon, under artistic direction of renowned Radamés Gnatalli. Garoto, on the banjo, accompanied by Serelepe (D. Montezano), on the violão, recorded "Bichinho de Queijo," maxixe-choro, and "Driblando," maxixe, two compositions by Garoto.
Soon after Garoto would know Aimoré, a famous artist, and would start to play with him in all venues in São Paulo. In 1931, Garoto was invited to work at the Rádio Educadora Paulista, where he added cavaquinho and bandolim (mandolin) to his arsenal. In this gig he'd substitute Zezinho do Banjo, the "Zé Carioca," who'd work later at Fox Studios in the USA, being the person who inspired Walt Disney to create the character "Zé Carioca" portrayed in his movie Saludos Amigos (1943). This station promoted in 1931 a Brazilian music contest, in which, in all categories, the best interpreters and musicians in the popular preference were Gaó, Zezinho, Pinheirinho, Armandinho, Arnaldo Pescuma, Paraguassu and Garoto, listed in sixth. place, after Zezinho, Luiz Buono, Amador Pinho, José Caparica and Thomaz dos Anjos. In 1934 Garoto was invited to join Rádio Cosmos, an ambitious project devised to take the market but which bankrupted one year later. Meanwhile, Garoto went on, playing in all Brazil and collecting enthusiastic mentions by the critic. A commercial trick used by the radios were to send their best artists to their "artistic caravans," which traveled to several states, with Garoto always playing a distinctive role. In this period Garoto found time to appear in the musical movie Fazendo fitas, directed by Vittorio Capellaro, side by side with some great popular names of the radio.
When visiting South in the IV Caravana, Garoto and Aimoré were invited to work at Cassino Farroupilha, in Porto Alegre, RS. They sign their first contract as a duo and return to São Paulo, waiting for the inauguration. In October 1935 they head once more to South, appearing in several radio shows. Extending the tour to Argentina, they perform an important deed: accompanying the great tango master, Carlos Gardel, in Buenos Aires. Returning to São Paulo, they were hired by Breno Rossi for Rádio São Paulo.
In 1936, renowned singer Sílvio Caldas adhered to a caravan which visited São Paulo. There he asked for a choro group to accompany him. Under suspicion (the serious São Paulo was and in a way still is generally disregarded by Cariocas when the subject is swingin' music), the duo was auditioned by Sílvio, who, deeply impressed, hired them immediately for his appearances at Teatro Santana. The result was so good that he invited them to work in Rio. In arriving there, Garoto was immediately invited to work at the Rádio Mayrink Veiga, which had one of the best casts in Brazil, where he'd met Laurindo de Almeida and Carmen Miranda. Working in the radio and attending to as much invitations as he could, he soon would be stressed by the excessive work and would return to São Paulo.
In 1937, recovered, was hired by Rádio Cruzeiro do Sul, of São Paulo, to work with their regional and the Orquestra Colúmbia. He called insistently his partner Aimoré, who returned to São Paulo. Together they would work in radio stations Cruzeiro do Sul and Cosmos (under new direction) until 1938, when the duo is dissolved. Garoto would move again to Rio.
Again hired by Rádio Mayrink Veiga, establishes a duo and a group with Laurindo de Almeida: the "duo of the syncopated rhythm" (Duo do Ritmo Sincopado), and the group Cordas Quentes (Hot Strings). The duo recorded for Odeon, backing Henricão, Carmen Costa, Jararaca e Zé Formiga, Alvarenga e Ranchinho, Dorival Caymmi, Ary Barroso, and Miranda.
In April 1939, Miranda embarked to the U.S. with the Bando da Lua. In May she opened in the musical Streets of Paris, conquering the Boston audience. She promptly appeared in the New York World Fair and in a NBC show, directly broadcast to Brazil by César Ladeira through Rádio Mayrink Veiga. Riding this gigantic wave of popularity, Miranda had to manage the crisis of losing Ivo Astolfi, member of the Bando da Lua who returned to Brazil. She telegraphed Garoto, inviting him to join them. In October 18, 1939, Garoto went to the U.S. The baiana shows were followed by Garoto's solo performances. In the audience of his solo act, jazz giants such as Duke Ellington and Art Tatum. The organist Jesse Crawford nicknamed him "The man with golden fingers." Garoto played in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Washington, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Toronto. Accompanying Miranda in the Bando da Lua, worked in the Streets of Paris musical, presented in Broadway, with special guests Abbott & Costello. With an all-star cast, also with the Bando da Lua and Garoto, the movie Down Argentine Way, directed by Irving Cummins, featured with the Brazilians the songs "South American way" (McHugh/Dubin), "Mamãe eu quero" (Jararaca/Vicente Paiva), "Bambu Bambu" (Patrício Teixeira/Donga) and "Touradas em Madri" (João de Barro/Alberto Ribeiro), all recorded through Decca.
In this period, Garoto and the Bando da Lua followed Miranda to the best nightclubs of New York, like Versailles and Waldorf Astoria. In Chicago they played at the Colonial Night Club. In March, 1940, they made an especial appearance in the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was reportedly enthusiastic. When the contracts ended, in July, 1940, they all returned to Brazil. During all that time, Garoto wasn't just a member of the Bando da Lua. His name figured in the spotlights and record labels under Miranda's and side by side with Bando da Lua's. On the other hand, the Bando da Lua was downgraded from an established group with its own career to mere accompanists for the rest of its existence. Garotowas insistently invited to break his contract and follow other impresarios, which he never did. He was interested in returning with Miranda to the U.S. in July 1940, but his demand of parallel solo performances which would have taken his music to a higher status was turned down, and he remained in Rio. He returned to his work at Rádio Mayrink Veiga until 1942, when he moved to Rádio Nacional, the strongest station which, with its potent equipment, could reach the entire Brazil, in short time becoming synonym with radio in this country. It had in its payroll six orchestras (one complete symphonic), eleven "regionais" (choro small groups) and 10 other small groups. Garoto would stay with them until 1954. In their shows he worked with the cream of the Brazilian artists, between them Radamés Gnatalli, Carolina Cardoso de Meneses, Luís Bonfá, Jacó do Bandolim, amongst several others. The salary was low, though, and he had to travel around the country, appearing in theaters and radio stations to make for his subsistence. With humorist José de Vasconcelos he toured through São Paulo state. He'd write the music for Vasconcelos' play Precisa-se de um presidente, between them Sorriu para mim, Zombas de mim, Alô, quem fala? At that time he had been recorded mostly by Odeon, with some productions for RCA Victor and Continental. His first solo album, for Odeon, includes Abismo de Rosas (Américo "Canhoto" Jacomino) and Quanto dói uma saudade (Garoto). Recorded in September 1940, was issued only two years after. Then, in 1949, he became an exclusive artist for Odeon, recording 1 a 0 by Pixinguinha and Benedito Lacerda (Benedito has many credits as partner of Pixinguinha, but most were due solely for his work of propagation), playing bandolim, and the virtuosistic Língua de Preto (Honorino Lopes), soloing the violão tenor. In April 1951 he recorded again Abismo de Rosas (Canhoto) and his famous Tristezas de um violão. Soon would follow the baião Meu coração, and the choro Triste alegria. But the Baião caçula (Mário Gennari Filho) and Perigoso (Ernesto Nazareth) were best sold and brought to Garoto some money. He was beginning to know success. His records began to sell well, and other singers became interested in recording his compositions. He recorded well-sold Melancolie (Alain Romans) and Kalu (Humberto Teixeira), reaching the third place in the Top Ten. Errei sim, by Ataulpho Alves, and Famoso (Ernesto Nazareth) also were well accepted. In this same year Dircinha Batista recorded Estranho amor (Garoto/David Nasser). But the big hit would be the polca-dobrado São Paulo Quatrocentão (Garoto/Chiquinho do Acordeon), recorded for Odeon in 1953 by Garoto and the excellent accordion player Chiquinho do Acordeon, bringing in the other face Baião do rouxinol, by the same authors. The record sold over 700.000 copies, establishing a record in Brazil which took some time to be broken. This song was recorded by many other artists. In 1952, Garoto invites violinist Fafá Lemos (Rafael Lemos Júnior) and accordionist Chiquinho do Acordeon (Romeu Seibel) to perform together in the radio show Música em Surdina. This would yield the Trio Surdina. They recorded extensively for Musidisc, beginning with Duas Contas (Garoto). During this time, he'd record solo an album with compositions by Ary Barroso. The tapes slept inside a box at Odeon's deposit until after his death, when were issued, with a post-mortem orchestral accompaniment created and conducted by Leo Peracchi, under the name Garoto revive em alta fidelidade. The honor of being the person who first played the violão, an instrument ancestrally identified with low-life outsiders, in the erudite, elitist temple of Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, was Garoto's. In 1953, he soloed the Concertino No. 2 para violão e orquestra, by Radamés Gnattalli, who dedicated the piece to Garoto. The conductor was Eleazar de Carvalho. This wasn't the only classical piece performed by Garoto. In August 1954, the Rádio Gazeta of São Paulo presented the show Suíte de Gala Antártica, where Garoto, accompanied by pianist Fritz Jank and the Orquestra Sinfônica da PRA-6, under conduction of Armando Belardi, played two pieces by Radamés Gnatalli, the Suíte para piano e violão and the Concertino No. 2. At May 3, 1955, in Copacabana, Rio, Garoto died of a stroke, at 39. He was, in Brazilian popular music, the very link between the ancient, Iberian tradition of dramatic sentimentalism, and the matter-of-fact tone post-bossa nova. The once revolutionary tendencies that were becoming widespread by the mass media: Ravel, Wagner, Debussy, Stravinski, Bartók, the same classical influences that were being appropriated by the jazz idiom, were the fuel for Garoto's innovations, who took jazz elements as well into his mix. Garoto, a true representative of the old tradition of choro, extended its boundaries by devising a sophisticated harmonic treatment, and preceded the dissonant harmony, colloquial lyrics and interpretation in Brazilian song that would become mainstream after bossa nova. Read less
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