Legendary Brazilian composer, arranger and saxophonist Moacir Santos died August 6 in Pasadena, California of unknown causes. He was 80. Active in music for more than 50 years, this somewhat overlooked Brazilian legend got his start as an arranger working for Brazilian radio in the 1950s. Often teaching on the side, Santos was primarily known as a samba expert, but he also explored such other Brazilian genres as bossa nova, baiao and frevo.
He moved to Pasadena in 1967 and recorded three albums in quick succession for the Blue Note label, before fading from public view. His career had been on an upsurge in recent years thanks to two CDs, 2004’s Ouro Negro and 2005’s Choros & Alegria, released by the U.S.-based label Adventure Music. Over the years, Santos arranged or played on records by Milton Nascimento, Sergio Mendes, Vinicius De Moraes and others. He will be remembered for his own albums as well as his acclaimed soundtrack to the movie Amor No Pacifico.
"It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of our friend Moacir Santos, and we send our deepest condolences to Moacir’s wife, Cleonice, and to their son, Moacir, Jr., as they mourn the loss of their beloved husband and father,” says Richard Zirinsky, Jr., President of Adventure Music. “Adventure Music feels honored and quite proud to have worked with Moacir and both Mario Adnet and Ze Nogueira in releasing both Ouro Negro and Choros & Alegria and feels strongly that both of these incredible works will only help to celebrate the amazing life and music of this fine man, who will be greatly missed."
At press time there was no word on a memorial service.