Manfredo Fest was a blind jazz pianist and bandleader who was instrumental in the development of the Brazilian bossa nova genre. The Google Doodle for today honours the musician’s 86th birthday.
Fest was born in Brazil to German immigrant parents in the 1920s. He began learning classical music at the age of five with his father, the chairman of the University of Porto Alegre’s music department. Fest, who has been legally blind since birth, learnt to read Braille music and play the piano, keyboards, and saxophone. During college, he developed a keen interest in jazz and earned a music degree from the University of Rio Grande do Sul.
He began his musical career by performing in pubs and clubs in So Paulo, where he became involved in Brazil’s burgeoning bossa nova movement, which fuses samba and jazz. Fest’s first album, Bossa Nova, Nova Bossa, was released in 1963. He relocated to Minneapolis, Minnesota, a few years later, and toured the United States as an arranger and keyboard player with Sergio Mendes’ Brazil ’66 band. Fest went on to collaborate with a number of notable musicians, including the Flecktones.
Over the course of his career, Fest published 19 albums, experimenting with both Brazilian and American influences. Fest’s music is still performed by jazz musicians and groups all around the world, including the 1976 jazz funk gem Brazilian Dorian Dream.
Happy birthday to an inventive musician, composer, and all-around jazz enthusiast.