paulandoscarGuitarist, composer, pianist, arranger and musical bon vivant, Oscar Castro-Neves is a many-faceted gem who radiates the rhythmic joy of Brazilian music. It’s easy to get caught up and be carried away when listening to Oscar’s albums, particularly his two Living Music releases, OSCAR! and BRAZILIAN DAYS.

Oscar Castro-Neves has become a defacto Cultural Ambassador for Brazilian music on both continents. Born in Rio de Janeiro May 5, 1940, his musical career began at age 14, when he and his brothers formed their first group, gaining recognition on local radio and television shows and hanging out with guys named Gilberto, Bonfa, Jobim. Two years later, everything changed. “We were just a bunch of musicians who played for the fun of it, showing each other what we’d come up with” recalled Oscar. “You have to remember that all of these famous Bossa Nova musicians were 16 or 17 years, with the exception of Jobim. He was 30 at the time.”

“At a party one day, Alaide Costa, one of Brazil’s top singers at that time heard one of my songs, ‘Chora Tua Tristeza’ (Cry Your Sadness), and asked if she could record it. I was shocked. I said ‘Yes, of course you can!’ Within a month, that song was number one and by the end of that year there were over 50 different covers recorded. And there I was, only 16 years old with a big hit! It was unbelievable.”

Oscar’s participation in the legendary Bossa Nova concert at Carnegie Hall in 1962 led to tours with Stan Getz, and later, with Sergio Mendes. During his ten years with Mendes, Oscar recorded 15 albums and performed around the world, including a 32-concert tour with Frank Sinatra.

Earlier in 1962, Oscar had met Paul Winter, who was on a State Department tour in Latin America, and when Oscar moved to the USA to stay in the late 1960s, one of his first musical projects was with Paul Winter working on SOMETHING IN THE WIND.

Oscar began touring as guitarist in Paul Winter’s Consort, and collaborated on many projects. He co-produced the Living Music albums COMMON GROUND, CALLINGS, MISSA GAIA/EARTH MASS and EARTHBEAT, and played on many others. In 1987, Oscar and Paul co-produced a new album of Oscar’s music. Called OSCAR!, the album features Oscar singing and playing guitar and piano, accompanied by the Paul Winter Consort.

Oscar Castro-Neves has touched on many musical styles during his career as a skilled composer, arranger, producer, group leader and performer, from sound tracks to pop acts, but he has never lost touch with his native Brazil. Besides recording and performing with the Paul Winter Consort, he has worked with Ella Fitzgerald, Barbra Streisand, and Michael Jackson; with Quincy Jones, Dave and Don Grusin, Johnny Mandel, John Klemmer, Ottmar Liebert and Lee Ritenour; and with Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, Minnie Ripperton, and Laurindo Almeida, just to name a few more.

Oscar produced a song with Randy Crawford for the movie “Stake Out.” His many film scores include “Gabriela” and “Blame It On Rio.” He’s worked as an orchestrator on “What About Bob,” “Short Circuit II,” “Dirty Rotten Scoundrals,” “Problem Child,” “K-9,” “L.A. Story,” “He Said, She Said,” and “Sister Act 2.” His documentary work includes “Burning Down Tomorrow,” (nominated for an Oscar of its own,) and “Reflections Through A Brazilian Eye,” an Emmy-nominated television special for KCET in Los Angeles.

In 1992, Paul Winter and Oscar Castro-Neves returned to Rio together to play a series of concerts during the Earth Summit, and it was there that they resolved to act on a long-standing dream of making a duet album. BRAZILIAN DAYS was released in 1998. An album of bossa nova gems by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Marina Pinto, Carlos Lyra, Vinicius de Moraes and others, BRAZILIAN DAYS features “Winter’s liquid soprano sax, Castro-Neves’ rich chord voicings, and solid but supple backing from bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Paolo Braga […] A long-overdue collaboration between two gifted and well-traveled musicians” (Billboard Magazine).

Oscar and Paul have collaborated on many projects since BRAZILIAN DAYS. Oscar has frequently been a guest at Paul’s Solstice Celebrations and, in 2001, Oscar was a member of Paul Winter’s Earth Band, performing music, which he also arranged, with the Boston Pops Orchestra in a concert broadcast on PBS television. Paul Winter writes of his friend:
” Troubador and trickster, he is an irrestistible catalyst in any musical situation. For all of us who know Oscar, just the mention of his name makes us smile. He brings us back to the joy of being alive.” (Paul Winter)

(Information taken from the liner notes to BRAZILIAN DAYS, OSCAR!)