Bebeto Castilho, a founding member of the Tamba Trio and later, the Tamba 4, died on March 10th, 2023, in Rio de Janeiro. Mr Castilho died at age 83, just a month short of his 84th birthday.

This post looks at his yearly years with Tamba Trio through to Tamba 4. Included are streaming links to his solo albums.

I first read the news on Arnaldo DeSouteiro’s JSR Instagram feed [1] has been confirmed by the g1 Pop & Art website [2]Globo Comunicação e Participações S.A [3],

Born Adalberto José de Castilho e Souza, Bebeto began his career in the 1950s as a member of Ed Lincoln’s ensemble. The musician leaves behind a wife, four children, three grandchildren and a great-grandson [4]

The Original Tamba Trio Hélcio Milito (berimbau), Luis Eça (guitar) and Bebeto (flute)

Tamba Trio was a Brazilian bossa nova and samba jazz group of the ’60s [5] The group started in the middle of the 1950’s when the group were all in their teens. Bebeto, just 13-years old at the time [6]Bossa nova : the story of the Brazilian music that seduced the world – Ruy Castro – ISBN 1-55652-409-9, couldn’t decide between playing the alto saxophone, the flute, or double bass, ended up opting to play all three. He would also be a vocalist and his style would still shine through right up to what I believe is his final album in 2007 [7] Take a listen

Tamba Trio were easily one of the most talented bossa nova groups of their time and perfected a breezy, swinging version of bossa vocal-pop that proved incredibly influential in Brazil and throughout the world.

They came to New York in 1962 on a trip sponsored by the Cultural Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. During that short trip, they appeared at the Village Vanguard, bizarrely their next performance was at the Minneapolis’ Shopping Center that would later become “Camp Snoopy” and the Mall Of America. After that the group went on to the Brazilian exhibition at the Chicago International Trade Fair [8]Brazilian Bulletin 1962-08-15: Vol 18 Issue 416. The groups stylings, their easy phrasing made them a key factor in the evolution and adoption of Bossa and samba music in the USA.

Also in 1962, Luiz Bonfá, Hélcio Milito and Bebeto, together with singer Rosana Toledo, recorded the music for the groundbreaking Brazilian film “Os Cafajestes” loosely translated “The Hustlers” or “The Unscrupuless Ones” directed by Ruy Guerra [9] [10]

As a result of their appearances in America, they received numerous invitations for shows, TVs etc., but they returned to Brazil to finish their first, self-titled album [11] They would also complete a contract at the “Au Bon Gourmet” nightclub together with newcomer Chico Anisio. On Thanksgiving Eve. November 1962, João Gilberto and Stan Getz would perform at Carnegie Hall and everything would change.

Tamba Trio would record another four albums before adding guitarist Dorio Ferreira to become Tamba 4.

Their initial album for CTI, the A&M/CTI “We And The Sea” [12] was recorded in September 1967. However, a number of the tracks were previously recorded for their self-titled Phillips album [13] recorded earlier in 1967, but not released in Brazil until 1968.

In the original article I wrote that “However, a number of the tracks were simple lifts of their self-titled Phillips album recorded earlier in 1967, but not released in Brazil until 1968. Creed had Rudy Van Gelder overdub Dorio’s guitar onto the tracks and a number of new tracks were added” – quoting the liner notes from “California Soul”.

This opinion seems to have have stemmed from threads 20-years ago on the A&M Corner website, [14] which Greg Gaz (the liner notes writer) is a member.

Brazilian producer and long time CTI historian, Arnaldo DeSouteiro, who worked on many CTI CD reissues got in touch to tell me “all tracks were recorded at Van Gelder Studios. None of the rhythm tracks were recorded in Brazil, Creed didn’t use any basic tracks done in Brazil. All tracks were recorded in NJ. Some songs selected by Creed for the We And The Sea album had been recorded earlier in Brazil for Tamba’s Philips albums, but they are not the same recordings. Creed would never want to use basic tracks done in Brazil with a terrible sound quality in a 3-track tape machine in the 1960s.”

He went on to say “For instance, if you compare the Van Gelder recording of “O Morro” (the opening track from We And The Sea) with the recording of that song that Tamba Trio had done in Brazil, although the arrangement is similar, the artistic level of the performance and the sound quality are totally different.

There were two more Tamba 4 albums produced by Taylor, “Samba Blim” in 1968, and “California Soul” in 1969. A single/45RPM was issued from “California Soul”, it didn’t make much of an impact and the album was shelved. “California Soul” would remain unreleased until Record Store Day in 2019.

About the same time, Luis Eça had decided to quit the band and that was the end. Tamba Trio would come back a couple of times in the 1980’s, 1990’s to play in Brazil and, later, in Japan, by that time Luiz Eça had already died [15] He was replaced by pianist Weber Drummond, who was chosen by Hélcio Milito [16] to tour with the trio.

Bebeto Solo

Bebeto was really an accomplished, multipurpose musician – his notes and phrasing on saxophone, flute and double bass gave him the opportunity to record with Deodato, Anton Carlos (Tom) Jobim, Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, João Donato, Nara Leão, Milton Nascimento and Sergio Mendes.

Before his 2007 solo album(above), in 1975 Bebeto recorded an acclaimed self-titled solo album that was only released in Brazil. There have been CD reissues in the UK, by London label WhatMusic that find their way to the USA. Fortunately the album is now available via streaming platforms. Choose yours and enjoy.

Bebeto Castilho leaves an amazing legacy of over 100 recordings for those that appreciate the bossa nova of his sound, and relaxed laidback subtleties of his voice.

March 15th, 2023 – added featured image, Added Citation for Bebeto age 13.
April 26th, 2023 – Corrections and updates provided by Arnaldo DeSouteiro.

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