Genres: Latin, International
Styles: Bossa Nova, Brazilian Pop, Brazilian Traditions, MPB, Samba
Born: October 25, 1937
The composer of bossa nova classics like "O Barquinho," "Ah, Se Eu Pudesse," "Errinho a To^a," "No's e o Mar," "Rio," "Voce^," and "Vagamente," Roberto Menescal started his professional career in 1957 as Sylvia Telles' sideman (on guitar) in a tour around Brazil. In 1958, he opened a guitar school in Copacabana (Rio) with Carlos Lyra, having as his pupils Nara Leao and his sister Danuza Leao. In the same year, he formed, with Lui's Carlos Vinhas, Joao Ma'rio, Henrique, and Bebeto, the Conjunto Roberto Menescal, one of the first instrumental groups of bossa nova. The group accompanied Dorival Caymmi, Vini'cius de Moraes, Billy Blanco, Maysa, and Telles. Also in 1958, he participated, with Telles, Carlos Lyra, and other artists, in a show at the Clube Hebraica (Rio), when the words "bossa nova" were used (inadvertently, by the club's secretary) for the first time to advertise the event. Having taken part with his group in the recording of Garotos da Bossa Nova in 1959, he participated in the I Festival de Samba Session at the Teatro de Arena theater of the School of Architecture at the State University of Rio de Janeiro. Such informal venues were important vehicles for bossa nova among the middle-class university people who were more inclined to absorb and disseminate it, and Menescal was instrumental for the promotion of such concerts in 1959, 1960, and 1961. Also in 1959, he had his first recorded composition, "Jura de Pombo" (with Ronaldo Bo^scoli), by Alai'de Costa. His "O Barquinho" (with Ronaldo Bo^scoli), a bossa nova classic, was simultaneously recorded by Maysa, Perry Ribeiro, and Paulinho Nogueira in 1960. In 1962, he accompanied Maysa in her Argentinean tour and, with Eumir Deodato's group, he performed in Marlene's program on TV Rio, having been hired for two years with his own group to back up artists on that TV station. In November 1962, he participated in the historic Bossa Nova Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY, with Tom Jobim, Carlos Lyra, and others, interpreting "O Barquinho" in one of his few performances as a singer. From 1964 to 1968, he worked as an arranger and, invited by Andre' Midani, he started to work as an independent producer and arranger at Polygram. In 1968, he accompanied Elis Regina in her performance at the MIDEM (International Phonographic Market and Music Publishers) in Cannes, France, and in her subsequent European tour, having been Regina's sideman until 1970, when he became Polygram's A&R. Already established as a major producer (having worked with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben Jor, Gal Costa, Maria Betha^nia, and many others), instrumentalist (as a session man he worked with Lu'cio Alves, Maysa, Claudette Soares, Nara Leao, Jair Rodrigues, and Elis Regina), he had several compositions of his included in soundtracks of broadly popular TV soap operas and also wrote music for the cinema (Bye Bye Brasil, Joana Francesa, both by Caca' Diegues, and Vai Trabalhar Vagabundo, by Hugo Carvana). In 1985, having accompanied Nara Leao in performances in Brazil and abroad, he launched with her the LP Um Cantinho, Um Violao/Nara Leao e Roberto Menescal. In the next year, he abandoned his career in A&R and dedicated himself to his solo career. He has also been participating in jazz projects, among others with Joe Henderson. In 2001, he participated with Wanda Sa', Danilo Caymmi, and Marcos Valle in the Fare Festival (Pavia, Italy). Menescal also owns the label Albatroz, which released albums by Danilo Caymmi, Emi'lio Santiago, and others.
- Alvaro Neder (All Music Guide)