He was a dear friend of mine since I was 11 years old...
I attended countless of his concerts (including the ones in 1974 with Victor Assis Brasil and his first gigs as a leader at the "Teatro Fonte da Saudade" (also known as "Teatro da Pequena Cruzada" in Lagoa), participated as "percussionist" in many jam sessions at his house (at Lauro Muller Street) during the late 70s and early 80s, he used to visit me a lot too (one night he came in with Yes-keyboardist Patrick Moraz! I'll post this pic as soon as I find it!), and I was privileged to record with him in an album I produced for Luiz Bonfa in 1991 (“The Bonfa Magic”, released by Milestone in the USA, Zyx in Europe and JVC in Japan). That same year I suggested him to Creed Taylor for Larry Coryell's "Live from Bahia" project etc etc. Marcio is also featured in a compilation I produced for Pascoal Meirelles in 1992-1995 ("Considerações"). We met for the last time in February, 2007, during one of my visits to Rio. I'll miss him forever.
His performances in the jazz series promoted by the now-defunct "Fonte da Saudade Theater", just 2 blocks away from my house in the 70s, had a deep impact on me as a jazz lover. I remember one special night in 1975, when he performed with two different bands: as a special guest soloist with the Rio Jazz Orchestra (a big-band then co-led by saxophonist Marcos Szpilman and trumpeter Alfredo de Paula) as well as leading his own fusion band. I'll never forget that, that night, he played a superb rendition of Freddie Hubbard's "Little Sunflower" on the flugelhorn. A couple of years before I had purchased a copy of Milt Jackson's masterpiece album for CTI, "Sunflower", which immediately became of my "desert island discs". Well: Marcio's solo sounded to me as good as Freddie's one on Milt's LP. And that meant and still means a lot for my high standards of quality. Marcio also used to play another Hubbard gem, "Sky Dive"; eventually, he would compose a song with that same title, recording it on the "Carioca" LP (1983), with "special effects" by his lovely dog Gordo!
It's truth that Marcio had already impressed me a lot on that concert (at the Teatro da Galeria) that yielded the "Victor Assis Brasil Ao Vivo" album for CID in 74, when Alberto Farah sounded great on Fender Rhodes, Paulo Russo still played electric bass (very well, indeed), and Lula Nascimento was in great shape on the drums. But the moment I "elected" Montarroyos one of my favorite artists, one of the world's top jazz players, was when I listening to that precious version of "Sunflower".
The next "experience" happened in 1976, once again at the Teatro Fonte da Saudade, when I attended for several nights a musical play titled "Laços", which united jazz, poetry and acting. The three main performers were keyboardist Luiz Eça (one of Tamba Trio's founders and another one of my musical heroes), actor Marcos Paulo (already a star from the Globo TV novelas since the "Pigmalião 70" soap opera), and an excellent singer named Claudia Versiani, now living in obscurity. But the whole band was terrific and it included two late legends of the Brazilian jazz scene - electric bassist Luizão Maia and drummer Claudio Caribé - plus guitar master Helio Delmiro. The repertoire included such themes as Edu Lobo's "Casa Forte", two Luiz Eça anthems - "Mestre Bimba" and "Reflexos" - from the "Tamba 73" album (the one I had the chance to reissue on CD in 2001 for BMG as part of the "RCA 100 Anos de Musica" series), and Marcio Montarroyos' own "Makaha", his highlight on the concert. The album was recorded live by the Som Livre label, but remains unissued on CD. (The same applies to another great record taped live by Philips at that same theater in 1976, "Resistindo", my personal favorite among the dozens of albums by the Quarteto Em Cy).
That killing band included keyboardist Marcos Silva, bassist Jamil Joanes, drummer Alfredo Dias Gomes (the first one I saw using two bass drums!), and guitarist Victor Biglione, plus other guests. I have attended the opening night and all the following ones. Marcio had achieved the complete maturity, applying electronic effects (like the wah-wah pedal connected to the trumpet) with total command of the instrument.
Btw, although my mother loved Marcio's version of "Carinhoso", her favorite among his recordings was a track ("Apenas Um Coração Solitário", an adaptation of Tchaikovsky's 1869 classical piece "Njet tolko tot kto znal Op.6 No.6", based on a Goethe's song for a gypsy waif) from Waltel Branco's "Meu Balanço" album. In case someone is interested, the LP recorded for CBS in 1975 was reissued on CD format twenty years later by the London-based label Mr. Bongo.
We also met in countless other occasions. Among them: many gigs leading his own groups at the "Jazzmania" club, a studio date with Azymuth performing the title track ("O Amor É Chama") of their "Flame" album, and the live recording sessions that yielded the "Casa da Bossa" project in 1996 (released here in the USA as "House of Bossa" by Mercury Records, as well as in Japan as "Casa da Bossa - Live from Rio", also available on a video exhibited on the Multishow Brazilian TV channel, but never commercially released in Brazil), which includes the stunning meeting of Marcio and Zimbo Trio on a 6m18s acoustically funkyfied version of Moacir Santos' "Nanã", the only instrumental number in the program).
Marcio and I also used to listen to many albums together: from Herb Alpert's "Rise" to Chuck Mangione's "Feel So Good", two LPs that impressed him a lot because both were huge instrumental pop hits achieved by trumpet/flugelhorn players. But, of course, we also listened to a lot of Miles Davis' and Brecker Brothers' vinyls. Always updated with what was going on all over the world, he was the first person who said "of course I know him, he is fantastic, the top trumpet player in LA right now", when I mentioned Jerry Hey's name - none other musicians in Rio had never heard about Jerry at that time (let's say 1979). On another night, in 1981, Marcio showed me a VHS video by Grover Washington, Jr. with Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson, Richard Tee, Paul Griffin and Ralph MacDonald, including most of the "Winelight" material. There was no trumpeter on that concert, but he loved Grover's solos.
Marcio recorded many solo albums in Brazil and in the USA for other labels. Two of them ("Magic Moment" and "Carioca") came out on Columbia in the early 80s, but both failed commercially because they were fusion-oriented projects in a time that Wynton Marsalis’ retro power was rising and rising... Two very ironic things happenned: Marcio’s first album on Columbia, “Magic Moment”, had been originally intended for release on Lorimar Records, a small company created by German producer Eckhart Rahn (Marcio's manager in Europe at that time), who later would would found the Black Sun label. Well, at the time of the album release, Lorimar broke up. Eckhart offered "Magic Moment" to CBS, Inc. and they accepted to release it; the sad part is that "Magic Moment" and Wynton’s debut for Columbia were promoted together in the very same ad printed by CBS in DownBeat and other mags….Needless to say, the big impact of Wynton’s album and Miles Davis' comeback project "The Man With The Horn" transformed Marcio’s album in a “death release” in the hands of Dr. George Butler (Columbia vice president of jazz and progressive A&R) and Vernon Slaughter, vice president of black music and jazz promotion.
Anyway, "Magic Moment" got a good review on Cash Box and, in the Record World issue of April 3, 1982, LA journalist Samuel Graham wrote: "Chuck Mangione is the newest artist to join the Columbia label... Two other signings that have attracted both critical acclaim and immediate sales are the debut recordings of two young trumpet players, Wynton Marsalis and Marcio Montarroyos. The efforts of the publicity and college departments have been crucial in helping the careers of artists like Marsalis, Ulmer, and Arthur Blythe. According to Butler, supporting artists on the road is a key element in the success of Columbia's jazz roster." Needless to say, there was no touring support nor any specific promo campaign for Marcio at CBS.
But, in Brazil, Marcio honored me when he and Christina Montarroyos (his then-wife and executive producer) invited me to write the text for the program of his engagement at the "Villa-Lobos Theater", celebrating the Brazilian release of "Magic Moment" in 1982. Some other CDs followed: "Samba Solstice" (87), "Terra Mater" (89) and "Congado Celebration" (95), plus the self-produced compilation "The Best of Marcio Montarroyos" (97).
My personal favorite among Marcio’s albums, however, remains the "Stone Alliance" project recorded with such guests as Eraldo de Hollanda Vasconcellos (Nana’s not so lucky but very talented brother), Hermeto Pascoal, Carlos David Sion, Dom Bira, and the Stone Alliance trio (Don Alias, Steve Grossman, Gene Perla). Claudio Roditi wrote the LP liner notes, deleted in the 1994 Brazilian CD reissue. Although currently out-of-print in Brazil, it has been reissued both in Japan (by the Kyutai label on June 29, 2005) and in the USA (by PM Records on July 25, 2007) with different track sequences and different covers. Anyway, it’s a superb album, Marcio’s masterpiece.
More rememberances (and rare pictures) added in other posts. Please look for them.