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Dom Salvador interview

Vinil é Arte interviewed Dom Salvador ahead of his performance for COPA FEST in 2010.  We have released two of his Salvador Trio albums this year so we thought it was worth posting as it's a great read:

Vinil é Arte: Did you enjoy music during your childhood?

Dom: I am from Rio and was born into a very musical family. Nearly everyone played an instrument. My sisters had a Quartet, called the Sisters Silva and were always on the radio. But they were all amateurs and the recordings were made at home. Everything revolved around the music. Paul, my brother, was great on guitar, on double bass and saxophone. I grew up watching him very closely. 

Vinil é Arte: When did you first play?

Dom: My first instrument was the drums. I used to go to the movies just to see American orchestras and loved watching the performance of orchestras such as Severino Araújo and Zachary. Until, one day, one of my sisters turned to Paul, our brother, and said: 'you have to see how the 'Poim' plays on the table'. 'Poim' was my nickname in the family. So, I took a teacher and began studying music theory before learning drums with Emilio.

Vinil é Arte: How did the piano come on the scene?

Dom: Emilio began to teach me. A while later, he was invited to teach at a school in San Carlos. I decided to study piano. The other possibility was the guitar because I had a hernia problem and couldn't play a wind instrument. We can say that the piano came by accident. So much so that at first I did not enjoy it much, but met great pianists and then I became interested. The piano is also a percussive instrument, so it was easy to learn.

Vinil é Arte: You love the classics?

Dom: Exactly. I was taking classes with a classical piano teacher. I lasted a long time with her and learned a lot. Later, I studied in c
ampinas. The diploma came in 1960 and the following year I moved to London at the invitation of a singer known at the time, Marita Louise. She sang operettas and was very successful in Europe.

Vinil é Arte: A relatively short time ago, only five years, you were part of many super groups important in the Brazilian instrumental scene?

Dom: I was always in the Beco das Garrafas. On one night, some foreigners were on the stage and there were a bunch of local musicians there: Tenorio Junior, Antonio Adolfo, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Toninho and Laércio de Freitas Pinheiro, of the Jongo Trio. I was shy of this kind of thing. Toninho insisted I play. I played. When I got off the stage, he called me to his table and said: "You play very well. I would like you to go with us to Rio de Janeiro?". That was in 1964. I was nervous, I spoke with my fiancee, whom I married in 1965, and she encouraged me. We played unforgettable shows in Beco das Garrafas, among them the first of Elis Regina and Quarteto em Cy, followed by Jorge Ben and many others, until Dom Um Romao went away to the United States.

Vinil é Arte: Who accompanied you on your first show?

Dom: Marcos Valle, but it was by accident. The original proposal was to gather Vitor Manga on drums, Tenorio Jr. on piano and Vitor Managa on bass and Doris Monteiro on vocals. They rehearsed everything, but no one appeared on time for the show [laughs]. We were all young. So they called Edson Machado and Sérgio Barrozo and they put Leny Andrade in place of Doris. The show was getting too cool! Wilson Simonal and Jorge Ben, for example, were always in the audience, and also Armando Pitigliani, who asked if we wanted to record an album.

Vinil é Arte: Did you travel to Europe?

Dom: The first trip was with Salvador Trio. We took Chico Batera in place of Vitor, who recorded the album. At that time, there was the first the wave of The Beatles and we were forced to change everything. Thank God, no one missed any work. Most of the guys played everything by ear with a few hours of the rehearsal, you had to learn quickly. I, Antonio Adolfo, and Tenorio were reading sheet music well and writing improvisations down. At that time, we stopped playing the bossa nova for a long time.

Vinil é Arte: Despite bossa nova being the banner of Brazilian music outside Brazil, when it went out of fashion did it not prevent you from playing in the United States?

Dom: On the contrary! I was in USA in 1966 with the Salvador Trio, in 1967 with the Copinha, an extraordinary flutist, and in 1968, with Elza Soares. I met Bill Evans and some of my idols. I went back with other ideas and this became the genesis for the Abolição group with the help of of Helcio Milito, of the Tamba Trio. He is a visionary, always inventing different things. Milito worked as a producer one day, I called and suggested making the sound of Abolição that you know so well.

Vinil é Arte: You later found an African theme, defending the speech of the black movement. How has this influenced your music?

Dom: Abolição has a style like American funk. But we caused a big wave, 100 percent Brazilian, because we played everything, chorinho and such. I dare not say that we were the first, but this mix was the original to me. And curiously, there were those who listened to the recordings of Herbie Hancock and thought it was us playing [laughs].

Vinil é Arte: When Abolição broke up there was another change in your sound. A solo career? 

Dom: After Abolição broke up I packed my bags and flew to the United States. Played with jazz groups in countless gigs. I played with everyone. But it was very difficult at the beginning because you can't live off gigs. The intention was to stay a month and go back to Brazil, but I'm still there to this day.

Vinil é Arte: What are you preparing for the Copa Fest?

Dom: I want to show the compositions that I am doing at the moment. I'm always changing things, without losing the essence. I don't know whether it is forward or backward [laughs]. I like a lot of the sounds from the past, but a blend with other sounds, has to do with gafieira, samba-jazz. Because I think the samba-jazz came from the sound that the guys were in gafieira, that business of playing a theme and improvising on top. My last show at the Copacabana Palace Hotel was in 1965. Know who was in that show? Tenório Jr., Antonio Adolfo, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Luis Carlos Vines, Zimbo Trio, Meirelles and the 5 Cup. You can imagine how I am enthusiastic about this invitation to the main Copa Fest show, can't you? 

Special thanks to Bernardo Vilhena for his help and permission.