OBITUARY FROM JAZZ STATION - ARNALDO DESOUTEIRO'S BLOG (JAZZ, BOSSA & BEYOND)
R.I.P.: Mario Castro-Neves -- a brilliant Brazilian pianist, arranger, composer and band-leader born in Rio de Janeiro on November 12, 1935 -- just passed away this afternoon, May 4, 2020 in his home in Plainsboro, New Jersey, USA. I had the honor to work with him in several occasions, having produced his last album, "On A Clear Bossa Day," recorded for my JSR label in 2004.
Mario dedicated to me a song titled "Someday," that he recorded with Ithamara Koorax on her "Love Dance" album for JSR/Milestone Records. That led to sold-out performances at both Mistura Fina and Partitura jazz clubs in Rio.
I have also produced (in 2001) the first official CD reissues in Brazil and abroad of his debut album as a leader, "Mario Castro-Neves & Samba S.A.", recorded for RCA in 1967. Besides other brilliant solo albums for Decca and CTL labels, Mario worked with Tito Madi, Elza Soares, Tony Camillo, Angel Sessions, L.J. Reynolds and Pat Martino, had his songs recorded by Doris Monteiro and Rosa Maria, did albums with groups like Musicanossa and Turma da Pilantragem, formed his own orchestras in England and Canada, two countries on which he lived for many years before relocating to the USA, where he was a teacher at the Princeton University.
Mario was the older brother of guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves, bassist Iko, drummer Leo, clarinetist Zeca (all deceased) and singer Pepê Castro-Neves. I was introduced to Mario's unique style through radio DJ Simon Khoury who gave a lot of airplay to a track, "Helena And I", from his 1973 album "Brazilian Mood." Three decades later, I was able not only to include that same recording of "Helena & I" on a compilation I produced for Verve ("A Trip To Brazil Vol.2: Bossa & Beyond") as well as to record a new version of that stunning song for "On A Clear Bossa Day." Another highlight of his final album was "Mamadeira Atonal," an iconic song written in 1957 with Ronaldo Boscoli.
Among the members of Mario's Samba S.A. bands were Novelli, Normando, Thais do Amaral, Biba, Manuel Gusmão, Cesar Machado, Ithamara Koorax and Ana Zinger. He also played with Paula Faour, Jorge Pescara, Enio Santos and Cesar Machado.
As I wrote on the notes for the "On A Clear Bossa Day" CD: "His superb orchestrations on that masterpiece album Brazilian Mood would be enough to place Mario Castro-Neves among the best arrangers in the music history, alongside Sebesky, Ogerman, Mancini, Legrand, Schifrin, Mandel, Gil Evans, Deodato and Gaya."
He is survived by his wife Mara, one brother (Pepê), one sister (Maria Lina), two daughters (Lili and Andrea), and one son (Mario Castro-Neves Filho).
My condolences to all his family.