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Rique Pantoja Live in Los Angelas

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    Posted: 24 May 2022 at 8:52pm
Available Digitally on All Platforms on MOONDO MUSIC
RIQUE PANTOJA has performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in American and Brazilian jazz for over 40 years. The prolific jazz pianist composer, arranger, and occasional vocalist is releasing digitally for the first time, LIVE IN LOS ANGELES, originally released in 2001.
Pantoja is an in-demand musical force in the entertainment industry, and when his old friend, Juan Carlos Quintero, the owner of Moondo Music, asked Pantoja if he was working on any projects, Pantoja sent him his recording of LIVE IN LOS ANGELESQuintero loved the music, and the album was a perfect fit for the high-quality, artistically rendered jazz and World music that Quintero’s Moondo Music is known for.
Pantoja was born in Rio de Janeiro to a musical family. His father and brothers all played musical instruments, and Pantoja began studying classical guitar at the age of eight, switching to piano when he was 13. When he was 16 years old, he lived for a while in La Cross, Wisconsin, as an exchange student and won a talent show for his writing.
Back in Brazil, Pantoja went to university to study engineering to please his father. But music was his passion, and after a year, his father relented and sent him to Boston to study at the Berklee College of Music. Pantoja spent over three years in Boston, playing Brazilian music with different bands around the city.
After Berklee, Pantoja packed up his Fender Rhodes and decamped to Paris where he formed a band comprising French and Brazilian musicians that played his original compositions. The band was very popular and performed seven nights a week all over Paris. One night, Chet Baker was playing in a club next door and came to hear the band. He sat in and really liked the music. His producer, Yves Chamberland, of the famed Studio Davout where many international music stars like The Rolling Stones and U2 recorded albums, wanted Baker to record a song with Pantoja’s band. They invited Baker to be part of the project, but he liked Pantoja’s compositions so much that he wound up playing on the entire album. The album, which was recorded in 1980, became Baker’s album and was titled Chet Baker and the Boto Brazilian Quartet. Pantoja says, “I thought that if Chet Baker wanted to play my music, I must be doing something right. As a young musician, it was incredibly encouraging. He even invited me to tour around Italy with him, and over the years, he played and recorded some of my songs with other bands, as well.”
After a couple of years in Paris, Pantoja headed back to Brazil where his reputation had preceded him. He quickly found work with many Brazilian headliners like Ivan Lins, Gilberto Gil, and Gal Costa. He toured for two years with Milton Nascimento and was the musical director for the popular singer/songwriter Djavan. Besides all his session work and touring with other artists, Pantoja also founded Cama de Gato (Cat’s Cradle), which was one of the most popular Brazilian jazz groups of that era and the best-selling instrumental group in 1986 and ‘87.
They toured around the world, and his song “Melancia” has been performed by countless different bands from many countries.
By the time 1991 rolled around, Pantoja wanted to break from his busy life and spend more time with family, so his wife suggested moving to Los Angeles for a year where he has many friends, including Ivan Lins. Even though he was still very busy, he did not tour as much and his schedule was much more manageable. The one year turned into thirty.
Pantoja’s work embraces a wide range of musical styles, from jazz to modern classical to pop to gospel music, and he has worked with many top stars on the international musical scene, like Carlos Santana, Ernie Watts, Ricky Martin, classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, Gloria Estefan, Abraham Laboriel, Justo Almario, Lee Ritenour, and Kirk Whalum, among many others.
Pantoja has also composed and arranged for hit TV shows like “Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous,” “Santa Barbara,” and “Another World.” His music appears on the soundtrack of Disney’s “Jungle 2 Jungle,” and he sang on the soundtrack of the animated movie “Rio” with Sergio Mendes. He has also written jingles for major brands such as Coca Cola, Honda, Shell Oil, Globo Reporter, deBeers Diamonds, Pepsi Cola, Nissan, and Toshiba.

LIVE IN LOS ANGELES features stellar Southern California-based musicians, including STEVE TAVAGLIONE (sax and Flute), JIMMY EARL (bass), JOEL TAYLOR (drum), CASSIO DUARTE (percussion), and Moondo Music label mate, RICARDO SILVEIRA (guitar).
LIVE IN LOS ANGELES opens with “Arpoador,” which means harpooner in Portuguese. Pantoja grew up in Arpoador, a small peninsula between Ipanema and Copacabana, where whales were often seen in the choppy waters. The song has a Latin flavor and features a haunting melody. “Julinho” is based on a melodic minor scale that moves between minor and major seventh chords. Its theme is basically a conversation between the bass line and the melody. Pantoja wrote “1000 Watts” in honor of his old friend Ernie Watts, who played on Pantoja’s first album for Warner Bros. The song starts off as a pop tune but moves into a fast, toe-tapping samba. A baiana is a woman from Bahia. The song “Da Baiana” is based on the ijexa, an Afro-Cuban rhythm. Pantoja quips, “I play a nice solo on this tune, but I really like the solos by Ricardo Silveira and Steve Tavaglione.”
Pantoja wrote “Bebop Kid” for his son as a homework assignment to learn solfege. It is a soulful blues that breaks into a Brazilian rhythm. Pantoja co-wrote “Que Loucura” with his friend, the Grammy-nominated Celso Fonseca. The composition has a cha-cha feel. In Brazil, a Morena is a dark-skinned brunette. Pantoja’s “Morena” is a story of a beautiful Morena he sees walking along the beach. Pantoja wrote ”Pra Lili” for an old friend named Lili. The rhythm moves between a 7/8 and 6/8 feel.
Although the music on LIVE IN LOS ANGELES is very melodic and accessible for the casual listener, it belies the depth and complexity of Pantoja’s writing. And the musicianship on the album is simply exceptional. Since the album was originally recorded before the popularity of digital music, Moondo Music has re-mastered the tracks for current platforms, including high resolution streaming outlets. The music is as fresh and exciting today as when it was recorded.

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LIVE IN LOS ANGELES is available on all digital platforms as of April 1, 2022.
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