Born in São Paulo in 1950, Paulo Bellinati is one of Brazil’s most accomplished contemporary guitarists. He studied classical guitar with Isaias Sávio and graduated from the Conservatory Dramático e Musical of São Paulo. From 1975 to 1980, Bellinati lived in Switzerland, continuing his musical studies at the Conservatory of Geneva and teaching at the Conservatory of Lausanne. He also performed with his own group in many European jazz festivals including the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Ozone Jazz in Neuchâtel, and the Festival du Bois de La Batîe in Geneva.
Bellinati’s active international career has taken him to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Besides performing solo concerts and giving master classes in many international guitar festivals, he also tours with the American bassist Steve Swallow, the Brazilian singer Mônica Salmaso, the Brazilian flutist Antonio Carrasqueira, and some top European musicians including Renaud Garcia-Fons, Jean-Louis Matinier, Lucilla Galeazzi, and Antonio Placer. He has both recorded and performed with these and other important artists including Carla Bley, Gal Costa, Leila Pinheiro, João Bosco, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Edu Lobo, Chico Buarque, and Pau Brasil group. In 1994, he won the prestigious Prêmio Sharp, Brazil’s equivalent of a Grammy, for arranging the selections on Gal Costa’s CD “O Sorriso do Gato de Alice”.
Aside from being a performer and arranger, Bellinati is also a respected musical scholar. He rediscovered, transcribed and recorded the music of the great Brazilian guitarist-composer Annibal Augusto Sardinha (Garoto). His landmark recording “The Guitar Works of Garoto”, and two-volume edition of Garoto’s works have received international critical acclaim and recognition for their historical significance. The CD also received a 5-star rating from CD Review.
As a composer, and multi-instrumentalist, Bellinati has written guitar solos, guitar and voice arrangements, guitar duos, trios, and quartets. Many of these works have been recorded on his albums “Guitares du Brésil”, “Serenata”, and “Lira Brasileira”. “Afro-Sambas” with vocalist Mônica Salmaso features Paulo’s arrangements of the complete afro-sambas by composers Baden Powell and Vinícius de Moraes, and was finalist for the 1997 Prêmio Sharp awards.
Paulo Bellinati draws from the rich tradition of Brazil, and most of his compositions are written over Brazilian musical styles such as Lundu, Modinha, Schottisch, Choro, Seresta, Maxixe, Jongo, Samba, Baião, Maracatu, Frevo, and Xaxado. He has developed a contemporary approach to Brazilian folklore, enhancing traditional forms with modern compositional techniques and harmonies. His works have been recorded and performed by many important guitarists, including John Williams, The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Costas Cotsiolis, Quaternaglia, Badi Assad, The Assad Brothers, Cristina Azuma, Shinichi Fukuda, and Carlos Barbosa Lima. In 1988, Paulo Bellinati won first prize for composition with his solo guitar piece Jongo, at the 8th Carrefour Mondial de la Guitare in Martinique. In 1996, John Williams recorded Jongo (two guitars version) for his album “The Mantis and the Moon”.
In 1998 and 2000, The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet recorded two of Bellinati’s pieces: A Furiosa and Baião de Gude on the albums L.A.G.Q. and Air & Ground. In 1998 Paulo Bellinati recorded his first video in the US, the Brazilian Guitar Virtuoso Video, performing and discussing his compositions. The video was produced and distributed worldwide by Mel Bay Publications.
His most recent project, Paulo Bellinati plays Antonio Carlos Jobim, is another Mel Bay video/DVD released in 2002, which includes Bellinati’s arrangements of some of the masterpieces of the great Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.