Luiz Floriano Bonfá was a well-respected, yet underrated Brazilian guitarist and composer whose career spanned over an impressive 60 years. Probably best-known for the music he composed for Black Orpheus, the bossa nova tunes of this underestimated artist were recorded by greats such as Frank Sinatra, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and Elvis Presley…yet many of his records were never even released in Brazil.
He was-known and celebrated for his incredible way with the guitar, playing melody, rhythm and bass simultaneously, which made his sound as big as an orchestra! His love for the guitar was instant and his dedication matched the natural flair he developed almost immediately – and this was when he began playing at 11 years old!
By the 1960’s Bonfá had moved the US and was recording with (amongst many others) Quincy Jones, George Benson and Sinatra (on My Way). He was also recorded by Nana Mouskouri, Julio Iglesias and Placido Domingo. He was still recording in 2001 at the time of his death and had returned to Brazil in the 1970’s, where he remained for the rest of his musical career. Though his success never matched other bossa nova stars, Bonfá is one of those hidden, rare gems that you feel rather lucky to have stumbled upon.
In 2005 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released a 31-track celebration of his solo work, which also included 30 minutes of previously unreleased material. It didn’t include today’s track, but offers a brilliant insight into his material.
Zomba was released in 1965 on his Brazilian Scene album, which was issued the Phillips label… Nicely jazzy round the fringes with dramatic flashes, this track offers a little taste of mystery, intrigue and exotic escapism and wouldn’t be at all out of place in a film score. Check it out above.