Laurindo Almeida – The Most Amazing Classical / Jazz Music Guitar Performer Ever! – Part 2

In 1966 jazz / classical guitar performer Laurindo Almeida made the American debut recordings of Radames Gnattali’s “Concerto de Copacabana” and the Heitor Villa-Lobos “Guitar Concerto”. Throughout his professional career Almeida was many years ahead of his fellow musicians in his promotion of the music of Barrios, Gnattali, Villa-Lobos and other superb South American composers. From the 1960s he performed, recorded and published (through his Brazilliance Publishing Company) the guitar works of these and other excellent South American composers.

In the 1970s Almeida once more achieved great international recognition with his “L.A. Four Quartet”, which showcased saxophonist Bud Shank, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelley Manne. This group was a direct continuation of his initial “Brazilliance” quartet. From the seventies right until the time of his demise Laurindo Almeida remained one of the most sought after guitarist / composer / arrangers in Hollywood. He often concertised and recorded with his wife Deltra (Didi) Eamon, the gifted Canadian soprano, whom he married in 1971.

Laurindo Almeida won ten Grammy Awards and as well as performing on the guitar had a long list of film scores to his name including, amongst others, “Viva Zapata”, “The Godfather”, “A Star Is Born”, “Camelot” and “The Agony and The Ecstasy”. He was a prolific composer. One of the Grammy Awards was for his composition “Discamtus” which tied with Igor Stravinsky in 1961 for best contemporary composition. His many original works included concertos for guitar and orchestra (he recorded his initial concerto on the Concord Concerto label in November 1979) and his traditional classical guitar quintet. Almeida received an Oscar for composing the music to the animated fable “The Magic Tree”.

In October 1977, he was awarded the Certificate of Appreciation from the American String Teachers Association for “a lifetime of devoted and distinguished service to the guitar in the United States”. He additionally made available many valuable books of arrangements of classical and jazz standards for guitar as well as an outstanding tutor. These books are a huge contribution to the 20th century repertoire of the guitar. He donated his unique collection of over one thousand items of music and original scores to the California State University at Northridge.

Laurindo Almeida was one of the busiest and most popular guitar players in the United States. There is no doubt that through his enormous output of recordings, publications and many live performance appearances, he was one of the most influential guitarists on the North American musical scene for over 40 years!

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