Raul de Souza 23/8/1934 – 13/6/2021
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
The revered Brazilian jazz and funk trombonist has died age 86
The Brazilian jazz and funk musician and composer Raul de Souza, considered one of the greatest trombonists in the world and renowned for his swing improvisation and samba-jazz stylings, died on Sunday (13 June) night from throat cancer at the age of 86, his family has reported.
Figures from the world of jazz have been paying their respects over the past 24 hours, while a statement issued by his family on social media states: “With great pain, the family communicates the death of Raul de Souza, tonight, in France. Guerreiro, as always, fought until the end of his forces against cancer. Our Brazilian hero left for eternity, leaving for everyone his greatest legacy, his music. We are immensely grateful for the support that all of you have always shown.”
João José Pereira de Souza was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1934, and began playing while still in his teens – it was around this time he adopted the nom de plume Raul (he was later known in Brazil as Raulzinho). His first album recording was in 1957, as a member of the nine-piece group Turma da Gafieira, where his talent stood out. He soon began playing with renowned musicians such as Sérgio Mendes, with whom he recorded and toured internationally in the 1960s as a member of the group Bossa Rio.
He also recorded with the likes of Airto Moreira, Milton Nascimento and Flora Purim, while a period living in Los Angeles in the ’70s saw collaborations with stars the included Cannonball Adderley, Jack DeJohnette, Herbie Hancock and Jaco Pastorius. He also worked with George Duke, who produced his 1977 hit ‘Sweet Lucy’.
De Souza relocated to France in the late 1990s and in recent years had been leader of a much younger crop of musicians that developed its own infectious blend of funk with traditional and contemporary Brazilian jazz; de Souza also incorporated the striking and unusual sound of a two-trombone front line in his groups.
As Raul de Souza Generations Band, his latest quintet has just released its first album, Plenitude, which has sadly also turned out to be de Souza’s swansong. Recorded while the group were living together for several weeks while on tour just before the pandemic, the record consists of contemporary arrangements of de Souza’s early funk successes such as ‘Sweet Lucy’ and ‘Daisy Mae’, collaborations with old friends of his such as Chico Buarque's ‘Apesar de Você’, plus brand-new compositions.
Look out for a review of Plenitude in the August issue of Jazzwise (out 15 July)