Djalma Ferreira


Djalma Ferreira He was one of the most illustrious character of the carioca night of the fifties, owner of a musical group - Millionaires of the Rhythm - that reigned absolute for several years in Rio`s nightclubs.

Djalma Ferreira was one of the most illustrious character of the carioca night of the fifties, owner of a musical group - Millionaires of the Rhythm - that reigned absolute for several years in Rio`s nightclubs. One of those night clubs was the famous  Drink,  owned by Djalma.  People danced all night long up to 11  in the following morning, when the couples left the nightclub directly to the beach. He was the first Brazilian keyboard player.   

Married to Iza Ferreira who wrote the lyrics of many of his music, and who gave birth to Djalma`s four children: Djalma Jr (born in 1948, demographer, he worked as a consultant to the Interamerican Bank of Development and  UNESCO, in Brazil), Luís (born in 1949, State of Nevada Police Officer retired in 2004), Luísa (born in 1950, Pit`Boss at the Flamingo Hilton of Las Vegas for more than 20 years) and Izabella (born in 1962, who plays guitar have a great voice and is a teacher at a Las Vegas school). 

Djalma, born in Rio de Janeiro, was only 12 years old when he moved with his family to Italy. His father, Benedito Neves Ferreira, was a Brazilian Navy Officer and he was in a mission for the Brazilian Government.  Benedito was a great democrat and he didn't want his son to study at the Italian schools as he thought they should be contaminated with the Fascist ideas. So Djalma attended home school and a private music teacher. It was then that Djalma begun his learning in piano and violin in Italy.

In 1932, with 19 years old, he moved back to Rio and fell in love with the sounds of Carolina Cardoso of Menezes` piano. He tried to play just like her and got a no paid place at the Radio at the same time he continued his independent piano training. In 1936, he became a professional piano player. It dates from those years his and to the radio shows his friendship with Noel Rosa (one of the most important samba composers in the samba history), Henrique and Marília Batista and other names of the Brazilian popular music. 

In 1938, spending vacation with Newton Teixeira and Cristóvão de Alencar, in São Lourenço, he composed his first samba. Cristóvão wrote the lyrics. It instantly became a big hit and one of the Brazilian popular music classics.  Francisco Alves, the greatest Brazilian singer in the 30`s, insisted in record it in the very moment he heard it. Silvio Caldas, another great Brazilian singer and composer,  also sang and recorded it 15 years later. 

When gambling was legal in Brazil, back in the 40`s, when famous international music groups were performing in Rio`s casinos, Djalma already had his own group with him at the piano

He was  often found at the bohemian nights of Rio with Noel Rosa, worked in all the great carioca casinos during the 40`s when gambling was legal in Brazil, inaugurated a nightclub in Peru and bought another one in Bolivia, was the first musician in Brazil to own a record company - Drink - and several night clubs in Rio and in São Paulo, and almost died when he was shot with his own gun at his own farm.

Taking risk made him comfortable. It is part of his gambler temperament, like he used to say when he talked about his passion for the baccarat .   The innovative spirit of Djalma prevailing brought him to introduce in Brazil, the solovox. It was the sound of solovox that got him, in 1945, his first success in disk: Bicharada, which was more a instrumental fun, imitating animals in a samba beat than properly a candidate to the success.  But it sure became a 1940`s big hit.

The experience at the casinos and its foreign musical attractions, gave him the opportunity to learn that his musical group was, with no doubt, the one that attracted more people for the dance floor.  He attracted more dancers that the "heavy orchestras with 20, 30 musicians, playing sounds insprires in the big American bands like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey.

He realized then, that people wanted softer sounds. He created a small melodic group melodic, "less noisy" like he used to say. 

At the end of the 40`s, gambling became illegal and musicians were unemployed. But Djalma survived and took his group through South America. He  inaugurated the nightclub Embassy in Lima, where he played with Josephine Baker. He also played in Santiago, Chile, and in La Paz, Bolivia, he bought his own night house. 

Back in Brazil he bought the night club, Drink, which would turn out to be his greatest investment. It was in this night club that he introduced many of the musicians that would later become Brazilians great success. Helena de Lima, Luís Bandeira, Miltinho, Jair Rodrigues and Ed Lincoln were among them.

In 1967 he moved with his family, to Las Vegas. Attracted by the gambling and the live music wich would give him great professional opportunities. After the first two difficult years, Djalma got his contracts, and played with important people. With Leonard Feather he composed several musics (My Place, I'm Happy Now, You Can't Go Home Again, Piece of Mind), and several others which still not known in Brazil.

Djalma visited Brazil for the last time in 1981 for one year agreement show at the Un Deux Trois night Club in Rio. He died in Las Vegas in September 28, 2004, at the age of 91 years old. He had at his side, his wife of 60 years marriage and all his children.