Deodato – Soulful Strut.
Widely regarded as one of the most respected and sought-after musicians in the music world, Brazilian-born Eumir Deodato has racked up 16 platinum records to his credit as artist, arranger or producer with combined sales of well over 25 million records in the USA alone. His discography, including compilations and all his work as arranger, producer and keyboardist, surpasses 450 albums. He has also had the honor of performing with the St. Louis Symphony (which backed him on his superb Artistry album), the Cincinnati Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestra di Musica Leggera dell’Unione Musicisti di Roma. In addition, several artists over the years have covered his songs, including George Benson, Lee Ritenour, Sarah Vaughan and The Emotions to mention just a few. And yet, in spite of all of his varied triumphs, honors and distinctions over the years, the multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist will probably forever be associated with one song – his innovative rendition of Richard Strauss’ classical opus Also Sprach Zarathustra (or more commonly known as the theme to 2001: A Space Odyssey).
That single compelling song, which first appeared on his 1973 debut album for CTI Prelude, sold at least five million copies and earned Deodato his first Grammy Award, instantly moved him to international stardom and setting a course for his remarkable ongoing career in music. Thirty years later, that same tune has found its way into the repertoire of the jam band Phish, a testament to Deodato’s enduring influence.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from Italian and Portuguese origin, Eumir Deodato got his start by playing the accordion at age 12. Shortly thereafter, he started studying piano as well as orchestration, arranging and conducting. Strictly self-taught, he immersed himself in theory books while spending countless evenings sitting behind orchestras and carefully observing how each part was played. His first break came at age 17 when he arranged and conducted his first recording session for a 28-piece orchestra. It wasn’t long before Deodato became one of the most active and respected arrangers and pianists in Rio’s busy music scene, recording for such artists as Milton Nascimento, Marcos Valle, Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
In 1968, Deodato moved to New York and began working with Luiz Bonfa, the legendary composer of Black Orpheus, while also doing extensive studio work for Astrud Gilberto, Walter Wanderley, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Marcos Valle and many other Brazilian artists who were living in the Big Apple at the time. When writing the arrangements for Astrud Gilberto’s Beach Samba , he became acquainted with producer Creed Taylor, who hired him to arrange for other CTI artists like Wes Montgomery, Stanley Turrentine, George Benson, Paul Desmond and Tom Jobim. His reputation in the fields of pop and black music was strengthened by his arrangement work for Frank Sinatra (Sinatra & Co.), Roberta Flack (Killing Me Softly, Chapter Two, Quiet Fire) and Aretha Franklin (Let Me In Your Life).
Following a performance at the Hollywood Bowl with the CTI All-Stars Band in 1972, Deodato started recording his record. His debut appearance as a leader, billed as 2001 Space Concert, was held at the Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1973.
After seven years of world-wide touring (including Australia, Japan, Canada, South America, Europe) and eight coast-to-coast tours of the States, Deodato decided to concentrate on studio work once again. Besides highly successful solo albums for the CTI, MCA, Warner And Atlantic labels, his work as a producer/arranger earned him several more laurels. One of his first productions was Kool & The Gang’s #1 pop single Celebration. He followed that success with production or arranging work for Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Franks, Gwen Guthrie, Chuck Mangione, Breakfast Club, The Dazz Band, One Way, Con-Funk-Shun, Kleeer, Pretty Poison, Kevin Rowland (Dexy’s Midnight Runners), White Lion and Brenda K. Starr, for whom he produced the pop hit I Still Believe in 1987.