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mesquita bites!

what’s this?

whatmusic.com presents ‘Valley Samba’, by the short-lived Rio 3. Recorded in Brazil in 1968 by the US-based trio that became Sergio Mendes’ Bossa Rio, this album has remained unreleased until today!

  • First ever release!
  • Tracks include ‘Little Pig Blues’ & ‘Rio 3 Blues’ & ‘Valley Samba’!
  • Features Osmar Milito (p), Ronie Mesquita (ds) & Otávio Bailly Jr (b)
  • Exclusive interview with Ronie & Otávio!

Check the 30 second clips from the album...

The whatmusic.com interview...

mesquita bites!

At the beginning of the 1960s the traffic in bossa trios was between Rio – São Paulo – Rio. Rio de Janeiro was where the record companies and most of the TV shows were, but São Paulo was where the money was. By the end of the decade this jazz route had been replaced by a far wider one – Mexico City – New York – Los Angeles.

One of the most successful of the 60s bossa piano trios was the Bossa Três. Led by the talented bacchanalian Luiz Carlos Vinhas, the Bossa 3 had a number of line-up changes. Originally, the group consisted of Tião Neto on bass and Edison Machado on drums and it was this group that Vinhas had taken to New York to follow in the wake of those friends who gone before, such as Sergio Mendes and Dom Um Romão who were then much in-demand following the bossa nova craze in the USA.

Once in America some of the brazilians fared better than others in the frosty New York spring of 1962. After some time many musicians had returned home or moved to that paradise home from home – California. Missing Brazil, Luiz Carlos went home to Rio leaving Tião Neto to become Mendes’ bassist whilst back in Rio his original bassist Otávio Bailly Jr. filled the chair in the Bossa Três! Drummer Edison Machado went back and forth between Rio and New York, and after a spell with Chico Batera the Bossa Três drumsticks were taken up by Ronald ‘Ronie’ Mesquita. Thus the second Bossa Três was born. At home the fashion for trios was waning, however.

Ronie Mesquita – “We were earning barely $100 dollars a week in Brazil as the economic crisis hit when the military took over the government. But, in Mexico City we could earn $400 a week plus our flights and expenses paid. It became like a kind of gold mine for brazilians. The Tamba Trio had arrived one month before we did. Basically, our group was the Bossa Três with Luiz Carlos Vinhas on piano and Leny Andrade and Pery Ribeiro singing – which made us the Gemini V.” As with most of the better trios early success in the US translated into big-time success in Mexico and Vinhas’ group was no exception. As Gemini V the band worked Carlos Lyra in Mexico City performing his play ‘Pobre Menina Rica’ (‘Poor Little Rich Girl’) and the translation into Spanish was by a young author called Gabriel Garcia Marquez, then living in Mexico. In 1968 Vinhas left the group after a row and went back to Rio, where he remained for the rest of his life (rumours have it that his wife was jealous and wanted him home!). Now broken up, the Gemini V nucleus of Ronie and Otávio needed a new pianist, so after Vinhas’ departure Ronie and Otávio sent word to their long time friend Osmar Milito, brother of Tamba Trio’s Helcio, to come and fill the piano slot in Mexico City.

Ronie – “Luiz Carlos had the right to the name Bossa Três, so we had to think of a new one, and we were a bit homesick so Rio 3 seemed right!”

Otávio – “Where the Bossa Três sound was more free-form and improvised, with Osmar we had a more worked out, arranged sound.”

Whilst in Mexico a talent scout from Las Vegas fell in love with the Rio 3 sound and immediately booked them to play at the Tropicana Casino*.”

Ronie – “Yeah, we were booked to play at the Blue Room – the booker thought we were mexicans, and the real mexicans were pissed because we were the only group from Mexico City that he signed up!”

The late sixties produced some of the most interesting ‘trio’ albums, as many of the trios were that in name only and added horn sections, guitarists and even orchestras to the basic piano/drums/bass format. The Rio 3 maintained their small unit but Osmar Milito introduced touches of ‘vocalese’ into the sound.

The tracks on this album, ‘Valley Samba’, were recorded in the summer of 1968 whilst the group were on a two week vacation back in Rio.

Otávio – “My parents lived opposite (trumpet player and producer) Bill Horne and he’d just built a studio in Copacabana and invited us over to test it out. So we didn’t really set out to record an album, but just lay down some tracks.”

Ronie – “Bill just wanted us to test the equipment, I didn’t even have my drums or anything, not even sticks, but Bill borrowed them and we just jammed for fun. We never thought about those recordings again, we had kind of forgotten them. The one day Osmar called me and said Durval (Ferreira) and you guys in London were interested in releasing them and we thought, yeah, that’s great!”

Otávio – “After our holiday we went back to the States where, purely by chance, we bumped into Sergio Mendes again, with whom I’d played before in the original Bossa Rio Sextet at Carnegie Hall and he got us to join his new version Bossa Rio – he’d just brought Gracinha Leporace from Brazil to be the singer.”

Sergio Mendes had more work than he could accept for Brasil 66 so he formed Bossa Rio as second group to go out on the road and to record for his label A&M. This same group later recorded a second LP for Tommy Lipuma’s independent Blue Thumb label.

Ronie – “We were the basis for the Bossa Rio, then Sergio brought in Pery Ribeiro and Manfredo Fest along with Gracinha, who had a fantastic voice. We had a lot of success in the States and especially in Japan where we played the Osaka Expo 70 and recorded a Japan-only live album. We even toured with people like Johnny Mathis – it was a great time”

Thirty four years later these recordings make up an interesting insight into one of the most interesting trios, one that lasted for only 12 months before following many others and metamorphosing into a fully-fledged brazilian pop act. The Rio 3 sound like a cross between Cesar Mariano’s funky Som Três, with the american-latin pop rhythms of Chris Montez mixing in the expansive sound of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, definitely a result of their foreign experiences.

*The photos used for the cover design and the Rio 3 logo were publicity stills from the Tropicana & courtesy of Ronie & Osmar

The Rio 3 were:
Osmar Milito (p)
Otávio Bailly Jr (b)
Ronie Mesquita (ds, perc)
Produced by Bill Horne

Recorded at Audio Studio B Ltda Copacabana Rio de Janeiro 1968

Mastered by Luigi Hoffer at Digital Mastering Solutions Rio de Janeiro October 2002

Special Thanks to Ronie, Osmar, Otávio, Bill & Durval

Executive production Durval Ferreira & whatmusic.com
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