Luiz Bonfá's greatest contribution to the jazz world has been his original compositions. In particular his musical score for the film Black Orpheus included several songs that have now become jazz standards. Manha de Carnival, and Samba de Orfeu are just two of the songs that are today known by most jazz lovers throughout the world.
Luiz Bonfá is also, as can be heard on his many recordings, a very fine guitarist in the traditional Brazilian style. He began to play the guitar at the age of eleven. He was initially taught by his father who was also a guitarist. He continued his studies under Isaias Savio, a master classical guitarist. Bonfá achieved a very high standard on the classical guitar but decided, after giving several concert recitals, to devote his career to the field of popular music. In 1946 he started his professional career in Brazil. A major influence on Bonfá was the legendary Brazilian guitarist Garoto (Anibal Augusto Sardinha). Garoto, who is regarded by most Brazilian musicians tobe the 'father' of bossa nova, was instrumental in Bonfá getting his first job with Radio Nacional in Rio. In a short time he became one of Brazil's top musicians both on the radio and the stage. At one time he sang and played the guitar in a group called the Quitandinha Singers.
In 1958 Bonfá decided to move to the USA where his arrival coincided with the bossa nova boom. The popular singer Mary Martin was greatly impressed by Bonfá's guitar artistry and hired him to accompany her for several concerts in 1958-1959. During this time Bonfá had his first real exposure to jazz. He made several very successful recordings with saxophonist Stan Getz. Bonfá also made several recordings with his wife, Brazilian singer Maria Toledo.
For many years Luiz Bonfá continued to lead a highly successful career as a guitar player, singer, and composer based in California. His multi-talented musical talents being mch in demand for the film, television and recording industries. In recent times Bonfá has returned to live in Brazil but continues to spend some time of each year in the USA.
[this biography is taken from The Jazz Guitar - Its Evolution, Players and Personalities since 1900 by Maurice J. Summerfield - Ashley Mark Publishing Company, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom]