THE LIFE AND TIMES OF VICTOR ASSIS BRASIL
The Life and Times Of Victor Assis Brasil.
Victor Assis Brasil was born into a middle class family in Rio de Janeiro, on the ‘28th’ of August 1945, and from an early age, expressed an interest in music. Seeing their son’s interest in music, Victor Assis Brasil’s parents decided to foster an environment that was conducive to his musical education. There was always the finest music playing in the house, as Victor Assis Brasil and his twin João Carlos Assis Brazil were growing up,
They were exposed to an eclectic selection of music. Sometimes, classical music was played, while other days, the young Victor Assis Brasil listened intently as jazz played. All the music that Victor Assis Brasil heard would influence and inspire him later, when he embarked upon a career as a professional musician.
Having heard such a wide range of music in his formative years, it was jazz that Victor Assis Brasil was drawn to and which he preferred to listen to. However, already Victor Assis Brasil wanted to go from listening to music to playing music.
This began when he was given a harmonica, and Victor Assis Brasil started playing along to the songs that he heard. While he played all sorts of music, Victor Assis Brasil always returned to jazz which was his already his favourite genre. The only problem was a harmonica wasn’t best suited to playing jazz. Fortunately, fate intervened when Victor Assis Brasil was fourteen.
That was when Victor Assis Brasil’s aunt arrived at the family home with an alto saxophone that she had won. This she presented to Victor Assis Brasil, and this opened up a new world for the young musician.
Victor Assis Brasil was a natural when it came to playing the alto saxophone, but still he practised for hours on end, day after day. Within just four years, Victor Assis Brasil was a truly talented saxophonist who was already playing in public. Whether it was nightclubs, parties or in schools Victor Assis Brasil took to the stage and showcased his considerable skills.
By then, people were starting to take notice of Victor Assis Brasil, and in 1963 made his first recording at a friend’s house. Little did anyone know that history had just been made.
A year later in 1964, nineteen year old Victor Assis Brasil had graduated to sitting in on jam sessions that took place in nightclubs in the South zone. Most of the musicians were older, and much more experienced, but Victor Assis Brasil didn’t look out-of-place, and sometimes upstaged the veterans he shared the stage this. This didn’t bother them, as they knew that Victor Assis Brasil was a special talent.
They were right, and in 1966 Victor Assis Brasil entered the studio to record his debut album Desenhos. During the sessions, torrential rain fell and it was so bad that the studio ceiling started leaking. Despite that, the sessions continued, and Victor Assis Brasil and his band were reluctant to leave the studio and ended up recording far more songs than was needed for an album. Many of these songs documented a prodigious talent in the early stages of his recording career and would’ve featured on Drawings.
Sadly, the leak in the studio damaged the tapes, and some of the songs were lost for good. Despite that, when Desenhos was released in 1966 it showcased a truly talented twenty-one year old saxophonist and was hailed as the first major jazz album recorded in Brazil. Many critics though Victor Assis Brasil had a long and illustrious career in front of him.
After the release of Desenhos, Victor Assis Brasil studied with saxophonist and conductor Paulo Moura in an attempt to improve his knowledge of music theory and improve his technique. Later that year, Victor Assis Brasil started touring further afield, and played in Europe. This included Austria where he took part in the International Jazz Contest in Vienna, and was third place in the saxophonists section. The same year, won the award for the best soloist at the Berlin Jazz Festival. By then, Victor Assis Brasil was one of jazz’s rising stars.
Victor Assis Brasil returned home to Brazil, and continued to play live, leading quartets and quintets. Soon, the time came for Victor Assis Brasil to record his sophomore album Trajeto where he combined Bossa Nova and Latin jazz. When Trajeto was released in 1967, it was to widespread critical acclaim. However, it was the last album Victor Assis Brasil would release in Brazil for three years.
In 1969, Victor Assis Brasil applied and was granted a place to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he played alongside of Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Corea, Ron Carter and Clark Terry. This was all part of Victor Assis Brasil’s musical education, and was good experience when resumed his recording career.
During the summer of 1970, Victor Assis Brasil where he planed to record his third album Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim, which featured four tracks that the legendary Brazilian composer, arranger, singer, pianist, and guitarist made famous. This included Tinha De Ser Com Você, Wave, Bonita and Dindi which were recorded by Victor Assis Brasil and became his homage to Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Joining Victor Assis Brasil in the studio was a band that featured drummer Edison Machado, bassist Edison Lôbo guitarist Hélio Delmiro and pianist Salvador. Meanwhile Victor Assis Brasil played alto saxophone and Roberto Quartin took charge of production. Just like during the recording of his debut album, Victor Assis Brasil ended up recording more music than they needed.
Victor Assis Brasil and his band also recorded Jimmy Heath’s ‘Ginger Bread Boy and three of his own compositions Marilia, Quarenta Graus À Sombra and Ao Amigo Quartin. These four tracks would later become Esperanto and by the end of the session Victor Assis Brasil had recorded two albums that were released during 1970 including Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim.
Critics on hearing Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim realised that it was game-changer of an album. Gone was the smooth, easy on the ear sound of the Bossa Nova, which was the sound of Brazil’s past.Certainly now that Brazil was no longer a democracy, and after a military coup, was being ruled by an iron fist by a military dictatorship.
Brazil was country under attack from the enemy within, Many within the country lived in fear, and daren’t speak out in case they were dragged kicked and screaming away by army. Despite the fear that pervaded the country, jazz was still important in the lives of many.
When Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim was released on Quartin in 1970, jazz fans were won over by Victor Assis Brasil’s groundbreaking new album. Antonio Carlos Jobim’s relaxing, soothing originals were transformed into the rawest of deep jazz cuts where Latin jazz and post bop melt into one. Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim was a powerful, potent and popular album that showed the way Brazilian jazz was heading.
Many critics believed that Victor Assis Brasil was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest names in Brazilian jazz. Especially ager the release of Esperanto later in 1970, which was another landmark album where Victor Assis Brasil and his band seamlessly fused Latin jazz, Música Oopular Brasileira and post bop.
After Victor Assis Brasil released Esperanto and Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim, critics believed that these two groundbreaking and genre-melting landmark albums were just another chapter in the story of twenty-nine year old Victor Assis Brasil.
In 1979 the Victor Assis Brazil Quintet released their eponymous album. However, in 1980 Victor Assis Brasil released his new album, Pedrinho which was also his swan-song.
Just a year later, on the ‘14th’ of April 1981, Victor Assis Brasil passed away aged just thirty-five. Brazilian music was in mourning at the loss of one of its most talented and innovate musicals who is just a fifteen year period had released six albums. These albums featured music that was ambitious, innovative and inspirational including Victor Assis Brasil’s much loved cult classics Esperanto and Toca Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The Life and Times Of Victor Assis Brasil.