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Drummer Dom Um Romao Dies

Portuguese drummer Dom Um Romao died July 26 in Rio de Janeiro of a cerebral hemmorage. He was 79.

Born on Aug. 3, 1925 in Rio de Janeiro, Romao was an influential bossa nova musician who began his career playing cabarets in the 1940s. He also played in Radio Tupi’s orchestra and in 1955, formed the Copa Trio in Copacabana with pianist Toninho and bassist Manuel Gusmao. In 1958, he worked with Elizeth Cardoso on the seminal Cancao do Amor Demais and in 1961, Romao began playing with Sergio Mendes and his Brazilian Jazz Sextet. The following year, he participated in the Bossa Nova Festival at Carnegie Hall with Mendes’ Bossa Rio Sextet. That same year, recorded with Cannonball Adderley on Adderley’s Cannonball’s Bossa Nova.

In 1965, Romao contributed to then-wife Flora Purim’s debut album, Flora E MPB and, later that year, was invited to the United States where he performed with Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz. After leaving Mendes’ group, Romao recorded The Movie Song Album with Tony Bennett, and in 1971, joined the Weather Report, replacing Airto Moreira. He released his self-titled solo album in 1972 and his first American album, I Sing the Body Electric in 1971 with the Weather Report.

Although Romao moved to Switzerland in the early 1980s, his Dom Um Romao Quintet continued to perform abroad and release albums, including 1993’s Saudades and 1998’s Rhythm Traveller.

Originally Published