Duo Nazario | History

Duo Nazario | Personnel | Amálgama | Vídeos

A remarkable life of partnership

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Formed by composer and pianist Lelo Nazario and drummer and percussionist Zé Eduardo Nazario, Duo Nazario explores an unusual formation – keyboards and drums – to integrate contemporary music and electronic resources to Brazilian musical traditions. “Exploring the multiple possibilities for open-ended dialogues between musical languages and universes with complete creative freedom is the main concept of the Duo's work,” Lelo explains.

The musical paths of brothers Lelo and Zé Eduardo intertwine over forty years. Their father, journalist
Joaquim Pinto Nazario, was the director of the Diários Associados, one of the largest media empires in Brazil which was founded by Assis Chateaubriand, and which in the 1960’s included dozens of radio and TV stations, newspapers, and magazines. At that time their family’s home in the Vila Mariana neighborhood, São Paulo, was a meeting place for journalists, intellectuals, and musicians who listened to jazz and bossa nova and created a rich cultural environment that would influence the brothers’ career.

As children they both studied piano and drums. Zé Eduardo, the older brother, already at 13 years of age was a professional musician playing drums, a gift from his parents, alongside renowned artists in the São Paulo music scene. Lelo was fascinated by contemporary classical music, especially the innovations of composers like Stockhausen, Messiaen, and Berio. Soon he matured as a pianist and deepened his musical knowledge. Using a Wollensak reel-to-reel tape recorder which his father had brought from New York, he started making electroacoustic experimentations. Yet as a teenager he began to compose his own music inspired by these new musical languages and the modern jazz.

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At the beginning of the 1970’s, the brothers started practicing together, going deep into a more freely conceived music, exploring different forms, and refining a rare musical affinity. In 1973, Zé Eduardo, then at the age of 21, was invited to play with Hermeto Pascoal, who later also took Lelo, aged 17, to join his band. Soon after, in 1974, the brothers formed the Malika together with sax player Hector Costita and other musicians, a group that sought to create an original sound combining South American folklore, electronic music, free jazz, and percussion.

Brothers Nazario stayed with Hermeto until 1977. In between the band’s rehearsals, they both used to play their own music for hours. Sometimes Hermeto joined the duo with the soprano sax and all three played free-form music. Although very young, Lelo and Zé Eduardo already had a great understanding of contemporary languages, a unique experience, and a perfect synergy. The musical integration between them emerged from the daily practice of playing and experimenting together since they were boys, such a practice that helped them to develop a singular form of musical expression.

Soon they started creating their own musical language, different from that of the Hermeto Pascoal’s band. “At that time, we knew very well both the electroacoustic music and the most advanced percussion language, so our compositions and arrangements had their own identity,” Zé Eduardo recalls. Such an experimental work gave birth to Grupo Um in 1976.

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Considered the most fecund and daring experience of creation in the avant-garde scene that emerged around the Lira Paulistana Theatre, the Grupo Um brought a new music in which the advanced harmonies of Lelo merged with the modern rhythms of Zé Eduardo. “Since its beginning, we always developed this open and contemporary language in Grupo Um,” said the drummer. “The group’s music is Brazilian music of the present time in a multidimensional and transforming way”, said the pianist, who was behind the most of compositions the group performed. With Grupo Um, which lasted until 1984, Lelo and Zé Eduardo released three albums and took Brazilian music to groundbreaking levels of technical skills and creative invention.

The avant-garde music of Grupo Um was enthusiastically received by audiences and critics alike, and launched the young musicians into an outstanding position in the Brazilian music. Zé Eduardo was acclaimed as a drummer of great talent and energy, among the best ones. Lelo was recognized as a pianist of great virtuosity and a composer of inventive conception and refined imagination. After Grupo Um’s dissolution, the brothers resumed their individual careers, but their paths would meet again in the Duo’s project.

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After having played side by side in different groups, recordings, concerts, and tours for almost two decades, and with the same inventive and pioneering spirit that marked their careers, Lelo and Zé Eduardo took their partnership a step further. Then they started to meet in Zé Eduardo’s house at Teodoro Sampaio Street in the Pinheiros neighborhood, São Paulo, in the same basement where they had created Grupo Um more than a decade before. “The idea was to create a new project with a very unusual formation that gave us a timbre advantage,” Zé Eduardo recalls. They started working on a material that could be played live, exploring both keyboard and percussion timbres, as well as twentieth-century avant-garde languages. So they created the Duo Nazario in 1989.

The complicity and experience that Lelo and Zé Eduardo had been developing since their childhood as well as the complete freedom to create provided a platform for the development of a unique repertoire for the Duo, which was recorded in 1991 at the Cachet studio, then under the direction of Gianullo family. Although this work has not been released at the time, some of the material was used in the Zé Eduardo’s CD ZEN years later. Lelo also used one of the tracks as a bonus on his CD “Se...”.

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Exploring both an unusual formation and the contemporary classical music, Lelo also wrote a series of compositions including Limite and Aurora for symphonic band, electronic sounds, and the Duo as a soloist. Between 1990 and 1997, Duo Nazario performed a series of concerts with the São Paulo Symphonic Band conducted by Roberto Farias, which included Guiomar Novaes Week, New Music Festival, and Brazilian Contemporary Music Biennial. The compositions were also performed at the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles International Conference in Austria.

Following Lelo’s and Zé Eduardo’s experimental and innovative leanings, Duo Nazario deepens its commitment to working with the sounds and themes of our time. “Many compositions reflect the huge amount of events and information that is produced every day in the world, seeking to express in sounds all aspects of this increasing entropy and its consequences for life on the planet,” Lelo observes.

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Based on the combination of avant-garde music, modern jazz, electronic resources, and popular forms, all built on a solid Afro-Brazilian rhythmic foundation and a lot of room for improvisation, Duo Nazario develops an original repertoire which also explores the wealth of keyboard and percussion timbres. Such a repertoire is performed in concerts and festivals, among which Instrumental Brazil Festival at the Tatuí Conservatory of Music in 2006, a Sesi tour in São Paulo state in 2011, Instrumental Sesc Brazil in 2012, and Jazz na Fábrica Festival in 2013.

With this work, Duo Nazario is awarded the Prêmio Funarte de Música Brasileira 2012 (2012 Funarte Prize for Brazilian Music) to produce the CD Amálgama, released in 2014. The album synthesizes a trajectory of inventiveness and musical maturity, and brings together compositions written over more than twenty years, including themes composed in the 1990’s as well as previously unreleased pieces created in 2012 and 2013.

Formed by influential and recognized musicians on the Brazilian and international music scene, and taking an unorthodox approach to their music, Duo Nazario has been at the forefront of the music produced in Brazil today. Crossing the boundaries between popular forms and the avant-garde music of the twentieth century, Duo Nazario has set a new standard for the genre: a music of invention, essentially Brazilian and contemporary.