20th century Brazilian icons don’t come much bigger than João Donato.
Starting his recording career at 15, the bossa nova pianist has gone on to release a staggering 29 albums since 1953.
It was his time in America in the late 50s where he absorbed Latin, especially Cuban, influences while playing in Mongo Santamaría’s band. The integration of Cuban music with bossa nova has been part of his playing style ever since, but it was back in Rio where he recorded one of his landmark albums A Bossa Muito Moderna de João Donato in 1963.
A major figure as a musician and arranger in the bossa nova movement, Donato has been profoundly influential across several generations of Brazilian players. João Gilberto even confessed to have taken his bossa nova beat at the violão from Donato’s piano playing.
He is generally perceived as a crazy and detached genius; maybe he is a little of each.