Introduction to Deodato



Deodato (born Eumir Deodato de Almeida in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1943), is a Brazilian musician, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and record producer popularly known for his big hit in “Also Sprach Zarathustra (Theme From 2001: A Space Odyssey)” during the 70s music era. A pianist, he was originally meant to tackle jazz, but his scope grew wider and more diverse, with rock, pop, R&B, funk, Latin or Brazilian and orchestral music being added to his repertoire. He moved to New York, USA and released his first American album Prelude in 1972. Released on CTI Records, the jazz-funk Prelude was the label’s most commercially successful release, and also the most successful of any albums in the jazz genre. Prelude climbed to #3 on the Billboard 200 album chart that year. It also contains “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” Deodato’s biggest chart achievement in the singles department and now oldies music favorite. Although Deodato never matched his earlier successes, he nevertheless went on with his prolific musical work. Fourteen of his over 500 albums have been certified platinum sellers.

Since the 1960s, Deodato has been an in-demand producer and arranger, having collaborated with Bjork (notably in her 1997 album Homogenic), Wes Montgomery, fellow Brazilian Astrud Gilberto, Kool and the Gang and Frank Sinatra. Into the 21st century, Deodato saw the release of his CD The Crossing in 2007, which included acclaimed American jazz singer Al Jarreau as guest.

Early life

Best known for his catchy adaptation of “Also Sprach Zarathurstra (Theme From 2001: A Space Odyssey),” Deodato (birth name: Eumir Deodato de Almeida) was born on June 22, 1942 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a Brazilian pianist, composer, record producer and arranger. Before Deodato became a well-known pianist, he started playing accordion at the age of 12. Deodato was entirely self-taught, having received no formal musical training.

He once played for a local rock group during his teens. At 17, Deodato was asked to write and arrange for a recording session orchestra. Despite never having written a score before, the young Deodato succeeded at quickly learning what was required in order to be a successful pop musician and composer.

A prolific music career

Although Deodato took up and studied engineer for a time, he later decided to pursue a music career as his writings were gaining popularity. In 1967 he left Brazil (where he once worked as a pianist and arranger) and moved to New York, USA. He worked primarily as an arranger with prominent artists such as Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Earth, Wind & Fire, Astrud Gilberto and Frank Sinatra (for his LP Sinatra & Company in 1971).

In the winter of 1973, Deodato’s first album Prelude was released in the US. The Latin jazz style of the album gained widespread appeal from music fans. It was produced by Creed Taylor on his own label Creed Taylor Inc.

The following year, Deodato’s’ nine-minute funk version of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. It was Deodato’s biggest hit and for the CTI label as well, peaking at #2 on the US Pop charts, #3 in Canada, and #7 in the UK. The album, also titled Also Sprach Zarathustra went up to #3 on the Billboard chart – a huge achievement for a jazz-based record.  “Also Sprach Zarathustra” was also later used in the 1979 film starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine, Being There.

Deodato released his sophomore album, Deodato 2, also in 1973. The album failed to duplicate the success of his first album. However, Deodato 2 still managed to chart at #19 on the Billboard 200. The album’s single “Rhapsody in Blue” peaked at #4 on the Hot 100 in that same year.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation used Deodato’s adaptation of Ravel’s “Pavane pour une infante defunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) as the background music for a videotaped sequence of scenes of Sydney at night. The station used this track for quite a number of years during the 1970s. “Pavane pour une infante defunte” was also included in Deodato 2 album.

Collaborations with other artists

In the 1980’s, Deodato worked as a producer for Kool and the Gang and for Kevin Rowland of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. He also arranged the orchestral parts for Bjork’s 1997 album Homogenic. Before Homogenic, Deodato had also done mixing duties for Bjork’s song “Isobel,” which was included in her Telegram album.

In 2007, he issued a live album called Eumir Deodato Trio – ao vivo no Rio (Eumir Deodato Trio, Live in Rio). He also co-produced the single of Chicago hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, “Paris, Tokyo” from the album Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. He has been also engaged in writing scores for several films. Deodato released another album in 2010, The Crossing, produced by himself along with brothers Lino and Pino Nicolosi of Nicolosi Productions. Also in the same year, he played with Riccardo Dalli Cardillo for the singer Marita Pauli’s new album.

Deodato’s other singles (may be an impartial list)

“Do It Again” (live) / “Branches” (live) (B-Side is by Airto)
“Moonlight Serenade” / “Havana Strut” (1974)
“Theme from Peter Gunn” / “Amani” (1976)
“Watusi Strut” / “Watusi Strut” (disco version) (1975)
“Uncle Funk” / “Whistle Stop” (1978)
“S.O.S. Fire in the Sky” / “East Side Strut” (1984)
“Double Feature (feat. Al Jarreau)” (2007)

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