Raul de Barros

Biography by

Raul de Barros, a trombone virtuoso, is an important part of Brazilian music. His classic composition "Na Glória" is still very popular, and he recorded 48 albums during his career. Developing his work…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Raul de Barros, a trombone virtuoso, is an important part of Brazilian music. His classic composition "Na Glória" is still very popular, and he recorded 48 albums during his career. Developing his work in the old, folkloric Rio neighborhoods with malandros and sambistas, he is a proponent of the gafieira samba (Brazilian big band style, as found in gafieiras, or ballrooms, for this specific genre), a truly swinging, catchy, hot and demanding instrumental music with plenty of soloing.

He became a musician when he was very young, learning saxophone with Ivo Coutinho in 1930. With Eugênio Zanata, he learned the trombone. De Barros played in little clubs in the suburban neighborhoods of Rio of Zona Norte (North Side) -- the working-class redoubt of the truly popular Carioca culture. Becoming a proficient professional, he began to work at the dancings (as were also called the gafieiras) Carioca and Eldorado.

The important conductor of gafieira orchestras, Maestro Carioca became fascinated by his sound and took him to Rádio Tupi. He immediately became a very requested sideman for singers' recordings, having worked with most names of those times. After three years of experience, he had his first set of tours through Montevideo, Uruguay. In returning, he was hired by Rádio Globo; there he would form his own orchestra, playing at the most popular Trem da Alegria show. He then recorded a set of albums for Odeon with his orchestra, releasing the choro "Na Glória" (Glory Is a Rio neighborhood), which became a hit from the very first moment and would be his lifelong prefix.

In 1950, he married Gilda de Barros, his orchestra's crooner. At Rádio Nacional, he had a regular show of his own and was also a member of the outing's musical cast, accompanying singers and other musicians. In 1955, he was popularly elected Trombonist of the Year in a contest promoted by critic Ary Vasconcelos for the O Cruzeiro magazine. He went on in his work as a performer playing every night at gafieiras with his orchestras and recording as sideman, as was the case of Gilberto Alves recording for Copacabana in 1961. He also recorded four more albums for Odeon in that period, including 1957's Ginga de Gafieira, reissued in 1999 on CD by Kuarup.

He was one of the first artists to record a 12" LP, then a novelty as there were only 10" LPs then. Its first track, "Amigo Velho," was recorded still on a 78 rpm, with "Rock Em Samba" as the B-side. The other tracks were produced especially for the LP. From 1951 to 1964, both formats -- 78 rpm and LP -- coexisted in Brazil until the definitive retirement of the 78. The LP was recorded mono. When the Jangada label reissued it in 1979, the sound was processed for a stereo simulation and Kuarup's remastering enhances the 78 sound. Another available recording of Raul de Barros & His Orchestra is O Som da Gafieira (CID).

In 1966, he performed at the Senegal Black Arts Festival, together with Clementina de Jesus, Ataulfo Alves, Elton Medeiros, Paulinho da Viola, and others. De Barros was also a member of the Rio Jazz Orchestra from 1973 on, which was also eventually joined by Altamiro Carrilho, Márcio Motarroyos, Alcione, João Donato, Marcos Valle, Elza Soares, Idriss Boudria, Paulo Moura, Mauro Senise, Raul Mascarenhas, Paulinho Trompete, and Maurício Einhorn.

A label specializing in Brazilian popular music research, Marcus Pereira, recorded an LP dedicated to him as a soloist in 1974. He is the trombonist on the legendary recordings of "Onde Estão os Tamborins?" and "E é Com Esse Que eu Vou," by the Quatro Ases e Um Coringa. He lives in an upstate district of Rio, out of the artistic scenery, ill, poor, and completely forgotten by the press and music industry.