One of Brazil's top arrangers, producers, and pianists, César Camargo Mariano has had extensive work in the most important arenas of the world. He has had musicians like Abe Laboriel, Alex Acuña, Mitch Holder, Paulinho da Costa, Jerry Hey, Bill Rickenbach, Ernie Watts, Hélio Delmiro, Wagner Tiso, Nelson Ayres, Crispin DelCistia, Azael Rodrigues, João Parahyba, among many others, participating on his solo albums. Mariano also co-produced, arranged, played the piano, and/or did the artistic direction for several shows and albums of Brazil's most important contemporary artists like Elis Regina, Nana Caymmi, Gal Costa, Maria Betânia, Simone, Rita Lee, Elba Ramalho, Ney Matogrosso, João Bosco, Leny Andrade, Leila Pinheiro, Beth Carvalho, Emilio Santiago, Ivan Lins, Ivete Sangalo, and others. Among his many awards are the eight Clio's and several São Paulo's Association of Art Critics (APCA) awards as musician, composer, arranger, and producer of records and shows. Over the past two decades, Mariano has produced, directed, and headed various TV programs. Mariano also wrote soundtracks for films, plays, and prime time nationwide soap operas (like Mandala).
Mariano started playing the piano by ear at 13, never having studied music before. Nine months later he played with Melba Liston (June 1957) in her concert in Rio. In the '60s, Mariano was hired by the William Furneaux Orchestra, playing dances. He also formed a quartet at that time with Theo de Barros (bass), Flavio Abattipietro (trumpet), and José Luis Schiavo (drums). Invited by Simonetti, Mariano put together a larger group, Três Américas, to cover some of Simonetti's gigs. In the A Baiúca nightclub (São Paulo) in 1962, Mariano participated in the Sabá Quartet with Sabá Oliveira (bass), Hamilton Pitorre (drums), and Theo de Barros (guitar). In the same year, Mariano produced and arranged Claudete Soares' Claudete é Dona da Bossa. In 1963 Mariano recorded his first album, Quarteto Sabá. Together with Airto Moreira and Humberto Clayber, Mariano formed the Sambalanço Trio (1964). With the American choreographer, dancer, and singer Lennie Dale, Mariano staged a bossa nova show that was a success, yielding the album Lennie Dale & Sambalanço Trio No Zum-Zum, which received two prizes from the newspaper Jornal do Brasil. From 1965 to 1971, Mariano led the Som Três trio. In 1967, Mariano wrote 12 arrangements for singer Marisa Gata Mansa. In 1968, Mariano became Wilson Simonal's producer, arranger, and musical director. In 1969, Mariano participated in the Festival of Black Arts in Senegal, Africa, with the singer Elizeth Cardoso and the Som Três trio. In 1971, Mariano was invited by Elis Regina to direct, produce, and arrange her new show at the Teatro da Praia in Rio and her new album for PolyGram, Elis. He put together a new quartet with Luisão Maia (bass), Helio Delmiro (guitar), and Paulinho Braga (drums). This would be the first of a series of 13 albums with Elis Regina. Mariano's first instrumental solo work was the show São Paulo Brasil (1978). In 1980, Mariano wrote and recorded the soundtrack for Arnaldo Jabor's Eu Te Amo. Two years later he wrote the soundtrack for Bruno Barreto's Além da Paixão. In 1988, Mariano performed another instrumental music show with Dino Vicente (keyboards), Luisão Maia, and Pedro Ivo (bass), Azael Rodrigues and João Parahyba (percussion), Ulisses Rocha (guitar), and Pique Riverte (saxes and flute). The show, called Ponte das Estrelas, was recorded live and toured all over Brazil and Latin America. In 1989, at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, Mariano performed as a duet with João Bosco. Putting together an acoustic trio with Hélio Delmiro on guitar and Paulo Moura on clarinet, they traveled to Spain for a ten-concert tour. In 1990 Mariano composed the soundtrack for another film, Paixão Cigana (Flávia Moraes), and the score for the play Luar em Preto e Branco. In 1994, Mariano moved to the United States. In that year he met Sadao Watanabe, who invited him to produce and arrange Watanabe's album In Tempo. Sadao Watanabe would bring Mariano again to produce and arrange his album Viajando. In that first period, Mariano played a piano concert at the Blue Note club in New York and traveled to Japan for various appearances with Watanabe and his group. In Chile, Mariano performed a four-handed piano concert with Michel Petrucciani. He also participated in Armando Manzanero's album El Piano — Manzanero y Sus Amigos. In New York in 1996, Mariano gave a solo concert at the Ballroom, along with John Patittucci's group. With Romero Lubambo (guitar), Leo Traversa (bass), and Mark Walker (drums), Mariano performed a tribute to Elis Regina at the Montreaux Jazz Festival with special guest Milton Nascimento. At the end of the year, Mariano directed a Brazilian music show at the Lincoln Center. In 1997, along with his quartet, he performed with Michael Brecker and Dianne Reeves at the Heineken Festival in São Paulo and Porto Alegre, Brazil. In Mexico, Mariano produced an album for PolyGram Latino with 12 Latin American singers (Tania Libertad, Vikky Car, Emmanuel, Maria Conchita Alonso, among others) backed only by piano and keyboards, Piano, Voz y Sentimento. In October, maestro and producer Ettore Stratta invited Mariano to join him in putting on the All Jobim concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. Acting as musical director and arranger for the concert, Mariano also performed alongside Ivan Lins, Leila Pinheiro, Dori Caymmi, Joe Lovano, Sharon Isbin, Eugene Maslov, and Al Jarreau. In April, invited by Ivan Lins, Mariano put together a duet program with Romero Lubambo on guitar for a series of concerts in the Brasil Musical (Musical Brasil) project in Rio de Janeiro. Followed another tour to Japan for various concerts alongside Sadao Watanabe, joined by Paulo Braga (drums), Marcelo Mariano (bass), Romero Lubambo (guitar), and Café (percussion). With guitar player Romero Lubambo, Mariano performed at Birdland in New York and at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. In May 1999, invited by maestro Gil Jardim, Mariano participated in the Café Com Leite, a spectacle with the Brazilian Philharmonic Orchestra, followed by a a solo tour through Brazil. In September, Mariano was again invited by maestro Ettore Stratta to direct the All Jobim show at Carnegie Hall in New York. This time participants included João Bosco, James Ingram, Simone, Michael Brecker, the New York Voices, Paula Robinson, and the duo formed by Mariano and Romero Lubambo. In October and November, Mariano wrote the string arrangements for Blossom Dearie's album Blossom's Planet (Daffodil Records) and the arrangements for Romero Lubambo's album Love Dance (Aosis/JVC Japan). ~ Alvaro Neder