Brazilian composer and arranger Moacir Santos died Sunday, August 6, in Los Angeles where he lived since 1967. Santos, who leaves his wife Cleonice Santos and son Moacir Santos Filho had been rushed two days earlier to a hospital after a stroke.
He had just celebrated his 80th birthday on July 28, a few days after being given the 2006 Shell Music Award in his native Brazil.
In justifying the award, Brazilian composer Hermínio Bello de Carvalho, a member of the jury, said that Santos deserved the prize, because he was a musician, composer, teacher and the master of a generation. "His work is wonderful," enthused Carvalho. "It’s an homage to Brazilian music."
Singer Fernanda Abreu, also a member of the jury, reminded that "choosing Moacir Santos is fundamental at the moment when there is a return to the roots of the Brazilian music and musical education. He is fundamental, as well, because he stands for MPB’s (Brazilian Popular Music) diversity".
Born in Pernambuco, in the Brazilian Northeast, Santos was a saxophonist, arranger and composer. He conducted the Rádio Nacional’s orchestra and taught music to some of Brazil’s most renowned musicians like Dori Caymmi, Sérgio Mendes, Roberto Menescal and Baden Powel, among many others.
Coisas (Things) released in 1965 was his first album and also the only Brazilian one. American recording company Blue Note launched his next two albums: Saudade (Longing) in 1972 and Maestro, two years later.
Brazil had all but forgotten him when he was revived in his homeland in 2001 with the release of Ouro Negro (Black Gold), a double album produced by Mário Adnet and Zé Nogueira.
When told about the Shell award, Santos didn’t hide his thrill: "It seems like a dream, but I know it’s a reality."