Classical / Jazz guitarist Laurindo Almeida was one of the most essential guitarists of the twentieth century. He was also one of the few artists to reach great success in both the classical and jazz fields of music. He was the total musician, not only a wonderful soloist and accompanist with a distinguishing soulful sound, but additionally an exciting composer and arranger. His all round musical talent and original concepts obtained him tremendous global respect amongst his peers in the 60-plus years of his professional career.
Almeida obtained his early music lessons from his mother, who was a concert pianist. She hoped that he too would turn out to be a pianist, but Laurindo fell in love with a guitar owned by his sister Maria. In a short time it was evident to all around him that he was on the way to being a virtuoso guitarist. In 1936 he signed on as a guitarist on the Brazilian cruise liner “Cuyaba”. During the voyage to Europe he absorbed a vast variety of music styles including his initial exposure to jazz. On a trip to Paris he heard “The Hot Club of France” string quintet starring the virtuoso gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. This group made a great impression on him!
On his return to Brazil he settled in Rio and took on the post of staff guitarist / arranger with Radio Mayrink Veiga. By 1944 Almeida had reached the heights of his profession in Brazil. In 1947 he made the decision to move to the USA, settling in Hollywood. Here he found work as a studio musician in films and as a classical guitar soloist with violinist Elizabeth Waldo. His curiosity in jazz helped him get the guitar seat in the famous Stan Kenton Orchestra which became a legend over the whole world for its innovations in jazz music. His most legendary recordings with Kenton were his solo work in Pete Rugolo’s “Lament” and his own composition “Amazonia”. In 1950 Almeida left the Kenton orchestra to lead a more diverse music career.
In 1953 – 1954, Almeida joined forces with saxophonist Bud Shank and using the addition of bass and drums, released three fantastic recordings titled “Brazilliance”. These records were the forerunners of bossa nova, mixing Brazilian rhythms with American jazz. Almeida’s impeccable taste as a composer, arranger and guitar player shines through on all these recordings. It was during this time that he released the first of many solo guitar albums of both classical and pop music for the Capitol and Decca labels. In 1963 – 1964, he toured the world as a featured soloist with The Modern Jazz Quartet. This association originally began as a project for the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival.
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Laurindo Almeida guitar sheet music