Walter, late 1950s.



Comments on the Artist from Site Visitors

Subject: Walter Wanderley

Received: 12/10/00 1:29 PM



Dear B.J. Major,

I recently came across your wonderful Walter Wanderley website and feel compelled to write to you and thank you for it. In the early 1960's, I lived in Washington, DC, only two blocks away from Charlie Byrd's Showboat Lounge, and about one mile from the unitarian church where the Getz/Byrd bossa nova album was recorded. In any case, that all started my lifelong love for bossa nova. Then, when I moved back to New Jersey in 1966, I first heard WW, and I was hooked!

In 1968 or 1969, I heard that WW was appearing at the Hyatt in Hollywood, so I flew out there, checked into the Hyatt, and caught his show several times. At that time, I believe he had a seven or eight piece group.

Then, a few years later I happened to be in San Francisco and discovered that he was playing at a popular restaurant on Montgomery Street called Paoli's. I listened to his music there and had several chats with WW, but his command of the English language was not that good and I spoke no Portuguese. He took my name and address and for a while thereafter, would notify me of his upcoming gigs. This engagement was apparently an extended one, as I saw him at Paoli's a couple of months later.

I also saw WW at the Holiday Inn in Chinatown and at one of the hotels at Fisherman's Wharf. It might have been a Hyatt or a Marriott. I also saw him playing a "one man band" gig in a small bar in Los Angeles (that was rather sad), and in the early '80's, I saw him several times at a bar in the Marina District of San Francisco called "Montmartre"-- this was a transvestite bar and also a hangout for the local Brazilian community. On one of my planned trips to San Francisco, I phoned Montmartre ahead of time to find out whether he'd be performing there during my visit, and was told, sadly, that he had recently died of cancer. If I'm not mistaken, the man at the other end of the phone mentioned that it was cancer of the tongue.

Getting back to the Paoli's days, WW had a percussionist with him who went by the name of "Victor M." Apparently, Victor's name was something like Meshnovsky. Victor gave me his phone number, and I would call him in advance of my San Francisco trips to find out where the group was appearing. On one occasion, I recall him telling me that they were booked in Seattle during my visit.

I feel privileged to have seen Walter Wanderley in person so often and to have been able to enjoy his glorious music in person.

Thanks for your beautiful tribute to this great musician.

Sal Franchino


Subject: Walter Wanderley

Received: 2/4/03 4:50 PM



Dear Miss Major,

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful web site. Like you, I was a young (16 yr. old) teen who was blown away when I first heard Mr. Wanderley"s intoxicating music over the radio in the summer of l966. Chills ran down my neck- what is that sound and who is the artist? No one ever made an organ sound the way Walter did...the way he he integrated melody with jazzy Brazilian rhythms...his sound was so distinctive! I would run home from school that spring and play my RAIN FOREST record over and over (yes - I still have it!). Over the years I have collected many of his albums. Thank you Verve for releasing his work on CD. The music sounds as fresh and exciting as it did some 30 years ago.

Would you believe, Miss Major, the one album I never bought (CHEGANÇA) - I just purchased on CD format from a distributor in Japan and God it's his best work (yes - even better than the great Rain Forest album). "Amanha" had me up on my toes dancing..."Mar Amar" is a tune I can't get out of my head..."O Ganso" is a blending of all those unique brazilian sounds only Walter could arrange. I could go on and on... Melody is one thing about music today that young people do not appreciate...If they would just listen toWalter"s music - the way you and I did when we were teens all those years ago - no doubt his music would always be with us. I will be a frequent visitor to your website and will look forward to pestering you with comments, questions and suggestions.


Jim Miller
Columbus, Ohio

Subject: Fantastic site!

Received: 3/11/03 4:04 PM



Dear Webmaster,

I am very impressed with your site about Walter Wanderley.

Years ago I found the Batucada LP and immediately I fell in love with his music and tone. Over the years I stumbled on some of his records. While replacing them to CD I found this Boss Of Bossa Nova 2cd from Germany whichis fabulous. Don't you think?

During my classes (I teach at a high school) I often play his stuff and the kids love it...they hear the beaty in it! Isn't that what it is all about?

[. . .] 

In my collection is a Dutch 70s Philips label Walter Wanderley LP kind of Greatest Hits which I did not see on your discography. Please let me send you a digi shot of both front and back covr for you to include in the discography.

Thanks ever so much for this great site!

Muito obrigado!


Etienne 'ET' Houben
Tilburg, The Netherlands, Europe


Subject: Wanderley's O Sucesso é Samba

Received: 4/28/03 4:27 PM



Dear B. J.,

Your Walter Wanderley website is amazing. I'm a fan of Walter's music from Madrid, Spain. My mother was lucky enough to meet Walter after a performance in Sao Paulo, and, as a result, I have an original copy of O Sucesso é Samba. She also met and Djalma Ferreira in Rio. [. . .]

I have listened to this album since I was a child, and I love it. I'm a musician now, and this LP helped me to love music, that's for sure!

Thanks again for all the information.

All the best,

Daniel Galera
Madrid, Spain

Subject: WW

Received: 5/8/03 2:05 PM



It was GREAT to run into your site. I too was bitten by the Wanderley bug a long time ago, recognizing his playing style as unique in the world of electronic organ. I am lucky enough to have a Brazilian girlfriend, and have travelled to Brazil 4 times now. What was amazing to me (especially as I sought out WW CDs in various stores in Sao Paulo) was how many people in that huge city have NEVER heard of Walter or his music. I repeatedly asked my girlfriend (Solange) and her family and friends about WW and was met with blank stares. Most Brazilians are so into contemporary music now (Both from Brazil and USA and often hybrids of the two) that most of the Bossa Nova years are ignored or forgotten. I think it will take another decade before they become nostalgic for that time.

I am a historian, writer, and Brazilian music aficionado from Atlanta.


Brian Coffey
Atlanta, GA

Subject: Walter Wanderley

Received: 5/27/03 8:15 AM



Dear Barbara,

I saw your Walter-Wanderley-Webpage and I am fascinated with how much love and energy you created this detailed, informative and extensive Site. Congratulations to this superb work!

Since many years I adore Walter Wanderley's special music-style and - some months ago - I even gave up my tenor-saxophone-playing in favour of learning the hammond organ.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to get Wanderley's recordings in Germany.  I would be very happy [. . .] to stay in contact with you about the "one and only" Walter Wanderley.

Greetings from Freiburg/Germany,

Stefan Wuerthle

Subject: Walter Wanderley

Received: 11/19/03 4:20 PM

To: Barbara Major (E-mail),


Hi BJ,

[. . .]

I think the Wanderley sound with that awesome organ is so addictive. When I first heard him, I worked with an architecture firm as a draftsman in downtown Ogden. The "Call Me" and "Summer Samba" dominated the radio at our office. That year was 1966. Therefore, I'm having lots of memories of that year and of you and your incredible discographies. I just wanted you to know.

Take care and keep the drums and trombones going,


Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 4:16 PM

Subject: walter wanderley


hello bj bear,


here is a little message for your forum on your great ww website.i would also make some comments.first of all i would like to say that your website is for me THE source if i need any info on ww.the site looks great and contains all the information i need, also the pictures are wonderful.i live in the netherlands(holland), and in a way i feel that ww was a fellow countryman of mine.with the dutch climate some sunny bossa nova music is never a bad thing.i bought a astrud gilberto album 20 years ago when i was 18 years old, and everybody told me i was nuts!!!this was music for "old" people.there was a song on it called "it's a lovely day today" with on the background a swinging cool hammond organ.among the artists who had worked on the album the sleeve mentioned friend tony came a year ago with a cd of ww, and i was sold!!!! i am a drummer myself and i love the b3 hammond, and now i heard a man play this instrument, the way i would play a hammond if i could play one! you can hear instantly that it is walter.when searching the web for ww info, i came across your website.THANK YOU for making it, and bring all this info to us.

i will continue to complete the discography if possible, and please keep up the good work with the website!!!


kindest regards, 

marc "dutch boy" van bakel

August 18, 2005 4:01:29 PM EDT


Hi BJ,


First of I want to say how interesting I have found your website. Since first hearing Wanderley's "Summer Samba" and the radio version of "Girl from Ipanema" in the early '60s in my later teens, I have been fascinated by Brazilian musing and anything related to the Samba, and its musicians. In face, just the other night I dredged out my old "Rain Forest" and Jazz Samba (Getz, and Joao + Astrud Gilberto) album and listened to them with a big smile on my face! It seems that I was affected by much the same music that "got to" you way back when!



Regards and thanks for a terrific site.


Bob Wilson


Date:     October 13, 2006 9:15:02 AM EDT

I was delighted to see that Barbara Major had set up a site in tribute to the great and lovely Walter Wanderley and her comments on the style of this much missed talented man were very touching to read. I read it while listening to one of my old vinyl records I found, tucked away in my archive cupboard. It was Walter Wanderley backing Astrud Gilberto with "A Certain Smile" LP.

As I listened to that unmistakable punchy infectious but velvet glove organ sound of his, the memories of 1966-69 came flooding back to me. This was a time during my early 20s in the County of Dorset (Thomas Hardy Country) in the UK and I was then working for EMI selling records to shops in Devon and Cornwall.   I was then a tremendous fan of Organ playing and Walter Wanderley's style and sound attracted me as strongly as that of the Bossa Nova itself which still lifts me today.

I bought a Hammond Organ because I wanted to play like him, but sadly - despite jazz piano lessons and the experience of playing in a trio - I was never able to emulate Walter's harmonies and couldn't fathom his amazing economy with their strong authoritative Latin American rhythmic message.   He was apart from being a fine soloist on albums with Trio, a superb accompanist for singers.  He never stepped over the singer's lines and always gave them the freedom to float on top of his ocean of supportive sound. In this respect he reminded me of the similarly respectful accompaniment of George Shearing with Nat Cole as the singer or indeed Nancy Wilson.

So sad to see that Walter had died of a very distressing illness in the 1980s and I will cherish those LPs for ever. I have already converted some of them to mp3 files that I can use on my mobile collection on my personal mp3 player.  They're lovely tracks and never lose their soothing and theraputic effects over the span of time.  Long may his memory remain.


Mr. Laurie Prior

Received in email on 2/10/07

Dear Barbara,

When I wrote on this forum in 2005 I was just discovering your website of Walter, but since then I visited it many many times to look for info or just read it over and over again.The interviews with Walter related people are superb, as well as all the info on recordings and movies and all (of which I contributed in a very small way).  I thank YOU again for making it, and bring the world and Wanderley lovers all this info.  You are the best!!!  Please continue to do so in many many years to come.

Concluding, I would like to ask via this forum, that my fellow countryman Etienne Houben of Tilburg The Netherlands, contact me by sending an email to the Webmaster (B.J.).

Marc "Dutch Boy" van Bakel    
The Netherlands  

Received in email on 2/2/08

Dear Barbara,

I feel like I am allowed to call you "Dear Barbara", since it seems I must have so much things in commun with the one who runs this absolutly wonderfull site about Walter Wanderley.

You are doing a great job, and your site gave me a lot of information and even developped my interest and taste in Walter Wanderleys' music.  Like you I must have heard as a child a tune by Walter Wanderley, and this tune was "music to watch girls by". It remained deep somewhere in my brain and reappeared a long time after, but with the same strength. Searching about Walter Wanderley on the web, I found your site, years ago now, and today I wanted to really thank you very sincerely.

Walter wanderley was surely a fantastic musician, with a strictly unique touch and esthetic ! ...

Thanks so much again !

Pascal PAVY
Besançon. FRANCE

Date received:  December 6, 2008

Hi BJ,

I just had to write to tell you what a great site you have for Walter Wanderley. I had the pleasure of meeting him years ago when my dad played bass with him for about a year. He was such a nice person. My dad always got along really well with him and thought he was an awesome musician. My father always remarked about the "special touch" Walter used on the organ.

I guess I was about 11 yrs. old and my dad took me to the Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, PA where my dad performed several nights a week with Walter along with a drummer. On other nights, Walter performed a solo act with the piano and organ. Walter was most gracious and asked me to come up on the stage to play a little piece. I made a few mistakes and Walter turned to my dad and said "It's the organ, it's in her way." He was so sweet to blame it on the organ instead of my playing. After I was done, my dad made me play the little Bach piece really fast like I did it at home and Walter laughed. He told me I played very well and to keep practicing and not give up.

When Walter took a break, my father, Walter, and I went to a little club where the musicians were allowed to drink, since the dining room was pretty fancy. Walter kept buying me coke after and coke and I couldn't say no and I was too shy to ask where the bathroom was. My dad and I laughed about that for years. Walter had that great accent and would say "Peggy, would you like another coke?" I can still hear him saying it. I was floating with all that soda.

As you know, Walter was a good friend of Astrud Gilberto and my father gave Walter a Brazilian art book to give to her.

My father passed away this year at the age of 92. He had lost touch with Walter over the years. [....]

It was a pleasure to have met such a wonderful person as Walter. He was truly a fine musician and a real joy for my father to work with him. My dad thought a lot of him as a musician and a friend.


Again, thank you for honoring Walter with such a great site. He would have loved it.


Peggy Bruno

Webmaster's note:  Peggy very generously gave photographs of Walter, taken in 1973, to this site for inclusion.  You can view them here!

Received in email on August 12, 2008

Re:  Walter Wandereley

I remember when Summer Samba was a big hit in 1966 - it was one of the first "adult" songs I ever heard on the radio and liked.  My dad called the radio station to find out who and what it was, and we had the 45 in hand shortly after, along with the flipside Call Me.

I saw you mentioned the appearance on Johnny Carson . . .   I was only 8 years old at the time but my parents did let me stay up.  I believe Walter did both tunes with the trio, the last one being right at the end of the show at nearly 1:00 am.  That was one of the first memories I have of staying up that late!  I don't think it was a school night, I believe it was in the summer.  I have looked on YouTube multiple times for that video but have never found it.  I do remember Walter had on a jacket that looked like it had glitter or something on it.  Not quite Liberace style, but in the ball park, my dad got a chuckle out of that.  I also remember being disappointed that Johnny didn't interview him or anything - he just played and that was it; of course at the time I didn't even realize he was Brazilian and didn't speak much English.

In recent years I have rediscovered the Hammond B3 sound, Bossa Nova and all that goes with it.  Summer Samba evokes memories in me that were long dormant.  I bought Rainforest on CD a few years ago, and it is one of my most frequently listened albums in the car on road trips or just commuting to work.

I didn't realize that Walter never returned to Brazil after the mid 1960s.  I guess I had always assumed his success in the U.S. was a flash in the pan and he had gone back to Brazil and continued there.  Kind of sad that he ended up in such obscurity.  His style is instantly recognizable - I don't know of anyone else like him, or even anyone else who played Bossa on the Hammond.

I have a particular fascination with the Hammond Tonewheel Organs anyway, their sound always suggested a fountain or a jet of water, and Walter's staccato playing reminded me of an impact sprinkler smacking that stream of water. Nothing else quite like it.

Andy Harman

Received in email on December 28, 2012

Hello BJ. I really enjoyed your websites on these two fantastic artists, especially Walter Wanderley. To this day, I still listen to "Rain Forest" and "Cheganca" pretty regularly (these are my two favorite WW LP's). I am sad that Mr. Wanderley, like my hero Tommy Gumina, put out such great music and yet never received the respect due such great artistry. When I see and hear the absolute junk that gets passed for art and music today, I go back and listen to people like Mr. Wanderely, Mr. Gumina, Mr. Mancini and somehow the world is alright once more. Thank God for recorded music. Great job, BJ.  Joe Hartka (Record collector and musician)


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