THIAGO DE MELLO--Gaudencio, age 80, Grammy Award nominated composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, former Brazilian soccer coach during the time of Pele and Garrincha, and champion of social justice died on November 11, 2013 at his home after a long illness. After studying architecture and then physical education, he had a successful career in professional soccer, initially as trainer for Rio's legendary Botafogo, and later on, as coach for Deportivo Cali and Union Magdalena in Colombia. Without being able to read a note, he came to New York at age 33 to pursue his dream of becoming a musician. He studied classical guitar and founded the Guitar Society at the United Nations in 1970, which he directed for 10 years. He founded his band, Amazon, and released his first of many recordings in 1973. He also founded and directed the Jazz Ensemble at the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City, where he taught for 29 years. He was voted among the 10 best percussionists in the U.S. by DownBeat Magazine, in 2000, which also chose his re-released 1973 LP, now as the CD "The Music of Thiago," as the 2nd Best Re-Issued CD of the Year-1999. He taught "organic percussion" and created many of his percussion instruments out of gourds and discarded repurposed woods. Several of his compositions were recorded on three different albums nominated for Grammy Awards in three different categories: New World on Paul Winter's "Earth-Voice of a Planet"; Classical Crossover in collaboration with Sharon Isbin's "Journey to the Amazon" and Classical on Sharon Isbin's Grammy winner "Dreams of a World". The date of his memorial service will be announced later. In lieu of flowers or gifts please consider a donation in his memory to the Rain Forest Alliance www.ra.org
or Madre www.madre.org
for human rights. Pursuant to his wishes, and indicative of his poetic, passionate, humorous and meaningful existence, his ashes will be scattered at the junction of the Rivers Solimoes and Negro, in the Amazon, the source of his life and music. Thiago is survived by his four beloved children: Janine, Ayla, Pedro Paulo, Fernando; his favorite son-in-law, Eckart; his devoted former wives, Mary and Bette; his dearly loved sister, Maria do Ceu, and cherished brother and world renowned poet, Amadeu.
Published by New York Times on Nov. 13, 2013.