Johnny Alf - Johnny Alf LP
This wonderful self-titled album by pianist, singer and composer, Johnny Alf, was first released on vinyl in 1966 by Rozenblit. Here the bossa nova pioneer sings beautiful songs, accompanied by the legendary musicians Hermeto Paschoal (flute) and Airto Moreira (drums).
When Alf was 9, his mother's employers, picking up on his talent for music, offered him a deal: if he passed the entrance exams to a well-regarded local state school, they would pay for his piano lessons. Alf spent the next six years studying classical piano, Brazilian popular music and US jazz. Heavily influenced by composers such as Debussy and Bach, as well as jazz musicians such as Cole Porter and George Gershwin, Alf co-founded a Frank Sinatra fanclub in Rio in the late 1940s.
His first major career break came when he was recruited to play Hotel Plaza in the Copacabana neighbourhood, a meeting point for musicians that many see as the birthplace of bossa nova. Among the regulars were Carlos Lyra, Roberto Menescal and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Alf's reputation for pioneering a new sound earned him the nickname ʻSenhor Modernidadeʼ or Mr Modernity.
Over the following decades, artists such as Simone, Alcione and Emilio Santiago recorded Alf's tracks. He produced only 20 records, yet he had a huge impact on his country's music. He died aged 80 in 2010. After his death, the lyrics to one of his best-known songs – Eu e a Brisa (Me and the Breeze) were read out in the Brazilian senate.