Eumir Deodato de Almeida (Brazilian Portuguese: ẽʊ̃ˈmiχ djoˈdatu; born 21 June 1943, Rio de Janeiro), also known as Eumir Deodato, is a Brazilian pianist, composer, record producer and arranger, primarily based in the jazz realm but who historically has been known for eclectic melding of big band and combo jazz with varied elements of rock/pop, R&B/funk, Brazilian/Latin, and symphonic or orchestral music.
Mainly, his records can be categorized as pop/jazz or crossover jazz. His successes as an original artist (keyboards) occurred mainly in the 1970s. Since then, he has produced or arranged music in more than 500 albums for acts ranging from Kool and the Gang to Björk, Christophe and k.d. lang. His daughter, Kennya Deodato, is married to American actor Stephen Baldwin.
Deodato was born of Italian and Portuguese parents. He is a musical autodidact, starting with the accordion at age 12 but rapidly learning instrumental and orchestral skills that culminated in his first recording session at age 17. Originally working as pianist and arranger in the Rio bossa nova scene, he rapidly outgrew this and, along with many other Brazilian musicians during the military dictatorship in their country, moved to New York, working with composer Luiz Bonfá and later with producer Creed Taylor as an arranger. Additionally, he became keyboardist in Taylor's expanding group of backing artists.
His first album in the U.S., Prelude, released in February 1973, was of a big band Latin jazz style that immediately attracted a wide audience. The album was produced by Creed Taylor on his CTI (Creed Taylor Inc.) label. The nine-minute funk version of Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra, entitled "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)", won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. It went to No. 2 in the pop charts in the US, No. 3 in Canada, and No. 7 in the UK and was CTI's biggest single. The album climbed to No. 3 in the Billboard chart, the label's best-selling album and an amazing sales achievement for a jazz-based release. It was subsequently used to great effect in the 1979 film Being There, starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine. It has also been covered extensively by the rock band Phish in their live performances and included in several of their live releases.
His second album, Deodato 2, despite being of the same style and quality, failed to sell as well, but climbed to number 19 in the Billboard album chart, whilst the single, "Rhapsody In Blue" reached No. 41 on the Hot 100 in 1973. Another track from the album, his interpretation of Ravel's "Pavane pour une infante defunte" ("Pavane for a Dead Princess"), was used for a number of years in the 1970s by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's television station ABN-2 in Sydney, serving as the background music for a videotaped sequence of scenes of Sydney at night, which marked the end of transmission for the day (in the period before the ABC commenced 24-hour broadcasting).
His early career records used guitarist John Tropea and quintessential jazz fusion flautist Hubert Laws. He was also known for utilizing the signature funky electric piano sound of the Fender Rhodes Eighty-Eight, specifically with his trademark gritty tube drive. Deodato continued recording until the late 1980s on the Warner Bros label, but never reached the level of his early successes, although two singles, "S.O.S., Fire In The Sky" and "Are You For Real", were Top 20 Billboard Dance hits in 1985.
Producer and arranger:
Deodato has been in demand as a producer and arranger since the 1960s. In all, he has worked on more than 500 albums, fifteen of which have reached platinum. His skills as an arranger provided entree to the American recording industry, writing charts for Wes Montgomery, compatriot chanteuse Astrud Gilberto, and most notably Frank Sinatra, the results of which were released as the bossa nova side of Sinatra's 1971 LP, Sinatra & Company. Other collaborations have included production duties for Kool and the Gang in the early 1980s, the first solo album by Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners in 1988 and orchestrations for Björk on her 1997 album Homogenic. Deodato had previously worked on Björk's song "Isobel", making a mix which was later released on her album Telegram, produced by Björk, Nellee Hooper, Tricky, Howie B. and Deodato himself. In 2007 Deodato co-produced the single called "Paris, Tokyo" which is on the album Lupe Fiasco's The Cool. He has also written scores for a number of films.
He also recorded a live album in Rio in 2007 called Eumir Deodato Trio - ao vivo no Rio (Eumir Deodato Trio, Live in Rio). In 2010, Deodato released the CD, The Crossing, produced by him in cooperation with Lino Nicolosi and Pino Nicolosi Novecento /Nicolosi productions, with guest Al Jarreau. In the same year Deodato was cooperating and playing with Riccardo Dalli Cardillo for a new CD released by Marita Pauli singer.