Saturday, February 24, 2024

Carlos Lyra, Composer Who Introduced Finesse to Bossa Nova, Dies at 90

Carlos Lyra, a Brazilian composer, singer and guitarist whose cool, meticulous melodies helped give construction and energy to bossa nova, the samba-inflected jazz fashion that turned a worldwide phenomenon within the early Sixties, died on Dec. 16 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 90.

His daughter, the singer Kay Lyra, mentioned the reason for his dying, in a hospital, was sepsis.

Alongside Antônio Carlos Jobim, Mr. Lyra was broadly thought of among the many biggest composers of bossa nova. Mr. Jobim as soon as known as him “an important melodist, harmonist, king of rhythm, of syncopation, of swing” and “singular, the ultimate.”

Mr. Lyra was a part of a free circle of musicians who within the Nineteen Fifties started in search of methods to mix the standard samba sounds of Brazil with American jazz and European classical influences. They usually gathered on the Plaza Resort in Rio, not removed from the Copacabana seashore, to debate music and hash out concepts.

A kind of musicians, the singer and guitarist João Gilberto, included three of Mr. Lyra’s compositions — “Maria Ninguém” (“Maria No one”), “Lobo Bobo” (“Silly Wolf”) and “Saudade Fêz um Samba” (“Saudade Made a Samba”) — on his “Chega de Saudade” (1959), which has usually been known as the primary bossa nova album. Mr. Lyra launched his personal first album a yr later, titled merely “Carlos Lyra: Bossa Nova.”

Impressed by the West Coast jazz of Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and others, Mr. Lyra introduced a relaxed sophistication to his work, in addition to an exacting normal for musical precision.

“He threw numerous songs away,” his daughter mentioned. “He solely stored the nice ones, he advised me.”

He steadily wrote with a lyricist — initially Ronaldo Bôscoli after which, starting within the early Sixties, Vinícius de Moraes, who wrote the unique Portuguese lyrics to “The Woman From Ipanema,” maybe essentially the most well-known bossa nova tune.

Mr. Lyra joined Mr. Gilberto, Mr. Jobim, Sérgio Mendes and different Brazilian artists within the famed 1962 efficiency at Carnegie Corridor in New York that helped introduce bossa nova to American audiences. Jazz artists like Miles Davis and Erroll Garner sat within the viewers, as did report executives, and a number of other of the performers (although not Mr. Lyra) later signed contracts with U.S. labels.

A lot of bossa nova’s main lights have been both simply writers or simply performers; Mr. Lyra was among the many few who have been each. Glowingly charismatic onstage, with a wealthy baritone voice, he captured audiences round Brazil and, within the mid-Sixties, the US, when he spent two years touring with the saxophonist Stan Getz, the main American exponent of bossa nova.

Mr. Lyra additionally differed from his fellow bossa nova musicians in his politics. Most have been apolitical or leaned to the precise; Mr. Lyra was an outspoken leftist who joined the Communist Social gathering and helped discovered the Folks’s Heart for Tradition, a gathering place in Rio de Janeiro for progressive college students and artists.

He wrote songs (generally along with his personal lyrics, generally in collaboration with Mr. de Moraes) that had a social and political inflection, though his messages have been more and more coded after Brazil’s authorities was overthrown in 1964 throughout a navy coup. His politics nonetheless drove him to decide on exile, twice.

“I contemplate myself politically proletariat,” he advised The New York Instances in 2015. “I contemplate myself economically bourgeois. And artistically I contemplate myself an aristocrat.”

Carlos Eduardo Lyra Barbosa was born on Could 11, 1933, in Rio de Janeiro. His father, José Domingos Barbosa, was an officer within the Brazilian Navy. His mom, Helena (Lyra) Barbosa, was a homemaker.

Carlinhos (individuals known as him by that identify, the diminutive type of Carlos, all through his life) was a musically precocious baby. His household was replete with beginner artists and musicians, together with his mom, who performed the music of Debussy and different impressionist composers on the piano.

He studied classical guitar with Moacir Santos, an influential composer and music instructor, and started writing songs in his teenagers. In 1955, the singer Sylvia Telles recorded his “Menina.”

That early success introduced him into contact with different younger artists, like Mr. Gilberto, Mr. Jobim, the singer Nara Leão and the composer Roberto Menescal, all of whom performed a central function within the formation of bossa nova.

Mr. Lyra left Brazil after the coup in 1964. When he got here off the street after his lengthy tour with Mr. Getz, he settled in Mexico Metropolis, the place he joined many different self-exiled Brazilian artists.

There he met and married Katherine Riddell, an actress recognized in Brazil below the stage identify Kate Lyra. They later divorced.

Alongside along with his daughter, Mr. Lyra is survived by his second spouse, Magda Pereira Botafogo; his sister, Maria Helena Lyra Fialho; and his brother, Sérgio.

Mr. Lyra returned to Brazil within the early Nineteen Seventies. However, discovering the right-wing dictatorship nonetheless unpalatable, he went into exile once more in 1974, this time to Los Angeles. There he underwent primal-scream remedy below Arthur Janov, befriending one other well-known participant, John Lennon.

Two years later he got here again to Brazil for good, settling in Rio de Janeiro. By then the world had moved on, and most of the bossa nova musicians who remained within the nation had reached an lodging with the navy authorities, which in flip promoted their careers — a sport that Mr. Lyra declined to play.

However finally he, too, received acclaim as a nationwide treasure. Among the many many celebrations round his ninetieth birthday was the discharge of the album “Afeto: Homenagem Carlos Lyra (90 Anos),” or “Affection: Homage to Carlos Lyra (90 Years),” that includes his songs carried out by a few of Brazil’s main musicians, together with Gilberto Gil, Joyce Moreno and Mônica Salmaso.

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