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Almeida, Laurindo (2nd September 1917-26th July 1995)

He was a concert guitarist and composer born Laurindo Jose de Araujo Almeida Nobrega Neto in Prainha, Brazil, to a musical family.  He studied the guitar from very young and became acclaimed in his home country.

He travelled to Paris and admired Django Reinhardt, whose influence he would carry throughout the rest of his career.  He emigrated to the United States in 1947 at the invitation of Stan Kenton and became a member of his orchestra where he was recognised for his smooth and technically spectacular style of playing.  He performed as a soloist at many renowned venues including Carnegie Hall and Chicago Opera House and his reputation, as a composer became well known.

In 1950 he left the Stan Kenton Band to concentrate on composition and recording and among his many releases he performed the American debut recordings of Radames Gnattali’s “Concerto de Copacabana” and Heitor Villa-Lobos’ “Guitar Concerto” and won 5 Grammy Awards between 1961 and 1965.

Performing in collaboration with other acclaimed artists he appeared and recorded alongside people such as Herbie Mann, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd.  Hollywood beckoned and his compositions were heard in the films The Old Man and The Sea, The Godfather, Camelot, Bonanza and A Star is Born among others.

Credited with introducing the Bossa Nova before it had even been named, he was honoured many times with awards such as the Certificate of Honor from the Achievement Recognition Institute, the Vahdah Olcot-Bickford Memorial Award, and the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Society Award.

He died in Van Nuys, California, in 1995 aged 78.

Los Angeles Aquarelle Suite recordings
Concord Concerto CD-42016 (CD: Aquarelle)
The Washington Guitar Quintet featuring Charlie Byrd