Wednesday, November 18, 2009

R.I.P.: Neco (Daudeth Azevedo)

We were saddened to become aware, only today, of the passing of Neco. As far as we know, not a single word about his death was published in the Brazilian press nor in Europe or Japan. For me, such scandals are not a surprise anymore...

Born Daudeth Azevedo in Realengo, a suburb area of Rio de Janeiro, on September 23, 1932, he was one of Brazil's most underrated musicians ever, being ignored by the "musical press snobs" and having never achieved the popular fame he surely deserved. But, fortunately, despite such big injustice, he never stopped working, remaining active as one of the most-in-demand studio musicians in the Rio de Janeiro studio scene for over four decades. Neco died in August 2009 in his apartment in Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, being survived by his wife Ieda.

Arnaldo DeSouteiro had the chance to work with him back in 1998, during the recording sessions of the all-star benefit project "Street Angels," produced by DeSouteiro for the London-based label Mr. Bongo. Neco played acoustic guitar on a track composed by saxophonist José Carlos Ramos (aka Zé Bigorna), titled "Porangaba," which also happened to be Bigorna's debut track as a leader.

Neco, who had done his recording debut exactly 41 years earlier, on a 78rpm disc by Ruy Rei, was mainly a self-taught musician, who learned to play acoustic guitar and cavaquinho (a kind of Brazilian ukelele) by himself, listening to records. He later studied harmony with Guerra Peixe and Moacir Santos.

He played in over 500 albums by such artists as Chico Buarque ("Meus Caros Amigos"), Ivan Lins ("Juntos"), Elizeth Cardoso ("A Cantadeira do Amor," "O Inverno do Meu Tempo"), João Bosco ("Tiro de Misericórdia", "Galos de Briga"), samba greats Jamelão, Monarco, Cartola, João Nogueira and Martinho da Vila, the king of baião Luiz Gonzaga, many many albums by samba singer Beth Carvalho (including "Andança," "Pandeiro e Viola" and "Pra Seu Governo", having performed live concerts with her for over 20 years), the vocal groups MPB 4 (on their masterpiece album "10 Anos Depois") and Quarteto Em Cy ("Querelas do Brasil"), the samba-pop duo Antonio Carlos & Jocafi ("Ossos do Ofício," "Definitivamente"), Brazil's first lady of chorinho Ademilde Fonseca ("A Rainha do Chorinho"), Miltinho ("Miltinho & Sexteto Sideral"), Maria Creuza ("Sessão Nostalgia", "Maria Creuza e Os Grandes Mestres do Samba"), Clara Nunes ("Guerreira"), Sonia Santos ("Crioula") and even operatic singer Maria Lucia Godoy ("O Canto da Amazonia"), plus Tito Madi, Johnny Alf, Elis Regina, Wanderlea and on Roberto Carlos' debut LP, "Louco Por Você," never reissued on CD.

Neco was a member of the legendary Os Ipanemas, Erlon Chaves' Banda Veneno, Deodato's Os Catedráticos and Durval Ferreira's Os Gatos. He recorded with fellow guitarists Raphael Rabello, Dino 7 Cordas, Codó, Bola Sete and Luiz Bonfá, and took part on several sessions by such arrangers as Gaya, Radamés Gnatalli, Lyrio Panicalli, Orlando Silveira, Leo Perachi, Nelsinho, Eumir Deodato, Waltel Branco, Severino Araujo, J.T. Meirelles, Maestro Gallo, and José Roberto Bertrami (great jazzy solos on "All My Songs"). Not to mention instrumentalists like K-Ximbinho, Zé Bodega, Jacob do Bandolim, Aurino, Raul de Barros, Dom Salvador and Julio Barbosa. Neco was also the uncredited guitarist on the easy-listening bossa albums arranged by Luiz Eça, Deodato and Maestro Cipó for the Ipanema Pop Orchestra.

Curiously, Neco became a cult-name in the European acid jazz scene of the 80s and 90s mostly due to his recordings with the piano-less quintet Os Ipanemas. Their self-titled debut album - recorded in 1966 for CBS by the group co-led by trombonist/arranger Astor Silva, with Rubens Bassini on percussion, Wilson das Neves on drums and Sebastião Marinho on bass - was reissued in 1995 in England by David Buttle's Mr. Bongo label, selling very well. One of the tunes, "Java," co-written by Neco, became a cult dancefloor hit.

Later on, besides the already mentioned "Street Angels" CD for Mr. Bongo, another UK label, Joe Davis' Far Out, convinced Neco and Wilson das Neves to re-form the group, producing a new album titled "The Return of Os Ipanemas" in 2001 - with both Wilson and Neco pictured on the front cover -, followed by "Afro Bossa" (2003), "Samba Is Our Gift" (2006) and "Call of the Gods" (2008), often with the help of musicians like Azymuth's drummer Ivan Conti (Mamão), Jorge Helder, Zizinho and Dom Chacal.

Besides the heavy sounds of Os Ipanemas, other recordings by Neco achieved great success in the international dancefloor scene, specially the ones with singer Tania Maria (her debut album "Apresentando Tania Maria" on the Continental label, with Edson Machado), keyboardist Deodato's Os Catedráticos band (Neco played electric guitar on "Impulso" and "Tremendão"), and two acclaimed sessions with Argentinian tenorist Gato Barbieri (on the albums "Chapter One: Latino America" and "Chapter Two: Hasta Siempre" for the Impulse! label). Not to mention an all-star session for Oswaldo Cadaxo's Equipe label in 1964, "Samba Nova Concepção"; Neco played acoustic guitar and wrote all the arrangements, with Deodato and Tenório Jr. on the pianos. Btw, he also played electric guitar superbly - check out Severino Araujo & Orquestra Tabajara's "Série Depoimento Vol.1" for Odeon, which marked the Tabajara revival in 1975.

However, only four albums were released under Neco's name as a leader: "Coquetel Bossa Nova" (CBS, 1964), and three more for Odeon's subsidiary London label - "Velvet Bossa Nova" (1966), "Samba e Violão" (1967) and "Samba e Violão vol.2" (1968). Only one was reissued on CD: "Velvet Bossa Nova," digitally remastered by EMI in 2003 but now out-of-print. Rest in Peace, Neco!

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