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Garoto portrait Guitarist Anibal Augusto Sardinha, better known by the stage name Garoto (1915-1955), is best remembered as an accompanist in Carmen Miranda's Banda Da Lua, the group she took with her when she went to the United States to conquer Broadway and Hollywood. While his work on her classic samba songs was superlative, he was also well known for his softer work with the Trio Surdina, formed in 1952 while Garoto was working as a house musician for Radio Nacional in Rio de Janeiro. A stunning classically trained technician, Garoto was deeply steeped in the challenging instrumental choro style, and was one of the first and greatest of the choro guitarists. He mentored Luiz Bonfa, who became one of the major early bossa nova stars, and influenced many guitarists of that generation. Garoto passed away in 1955 while on tour in Europe, arguably when he was at his artistic peak... Here's a look at his brief recorded legacy.


Garoto "O Genio Das Cordas" (Serie Choro - Grandes Solistas) (EMI-Brasil, 2003)
A dazzling set of vintage recordings -- Garoto had already been performing and recording for several years before he accompanied Carmen Miranda to the United States in 1939, where she became a Hollywood star. While there, he soaked up the heady, infectious jazz style of the time, bringing some of the wild energy on the swing scene home with him when he returned to Brazil in the early 'Forties. These recordings, made between 1949-55, show him as a dynamic artist, performing at his peak. It kicks off (naturally) with a lively version of the choro standard, "1 x 0," with Garoto's lightning-fast, melliflous fretwork mimicking the dancing flute of Benedito Lacerda's original solos. The album also includes several of Garoto's original compositions, such as "Choro Triste No.2," "Tristezas De Um Violao," "Desvairada," and "Sao Paulo Quatrocentro," as well as songs by Ernesto Nazareth and other, less famous choristas. It's great stuff! If you've enjoyed music by Jacob Do Bandolim or Pixinguinha, then you've got to check Garoto out as well!

Garoto "Historical Guitar Recordings: 1950-1954" (Chanterelle, 2006)
Terrible sound quality, but priceless music. These informal early-1950s recordings highlight Garoto at his most soulful and innovative, performing solo on many of his own compositions, as well as plugging in and playing electric on a half-dozen songs composed by classical legend Radames Gnattali. The Gnattali songs are a bit clumsy -- Garoto was clearly ill-at-ease playing electric, but the solo acoustic tracks are gorgeous, appealing to both guitar wonks and fans of Brazilian choro.. The generous liner notes point out that Luiz Bonfa was one of Garoto's students, and hearing him play solo, as opposed to in a band, you can really hear it. There's the same dense level of musical complexity, along with a rich lyrical soulfulness and sweetness and love of innovation... If you like Bonfa, or acoustic guitar music in general, this disc is definitely worth tracking down.

Garoto "Revive Em Alta Fidelidade Ary Barroso" (Odeon, 1957) (10" LP)
A syrupy orchestral album in which Garoto's guitar is present, but hardly dominant. Indeed, he is frequently buried beneath lush, overripe string arrangements and general cheesiness -- his part was recorded in 1953, two years before his untimely death in 1955, and was completed posthumously, with the orchestral parts added later on by bandleader Leo Peracchi. In the second half of the album the guitar emerges a little more clearly, but this is more of a mood music album than a lost choro gem. (Note: these tracks were later re-released on the 1966 Elenco album, Aloysio de Oliveira Apresenta Garoto & Luiz Bonfa, which has also been released on CD.)

Garoto "Garoto" (MIS, 1979) (LP)
One great performance after another, with guitarist Garoto playing live in a variety of styles, including both acoustic and electric... and even on cavaquinho! These tracks were originally broadcast on the radio, and preserved on acetate discs... thank goodness. For some really swinging Brazilian guitar tunes, track this one down. Be great if they reissued it on CD someday as well.


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