Waldir Azevedo was born in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, and learned to play the flute, guitar and cavaquinho as a child. Later he worked in a power company, a job that he left in 1945 to play cavaquinho with Dilermando Reis, in the Radio Club of Brazil. He was responsible for the introduction of the cavaquinho as a solo instrument, which until then, was only used to accompany musical groups. He contributed very much to the popularity of this traditional Brazilian instrument in the last 50 years. He was the composer of the classics “Brasileirinho”, “Small Pieces of the Sky” (“Pedacinhos do Céu”) and “Delicacy” (which had enormous success in the United States in the version of Percy Faith), among many other choros. In 1949 he released the LP containing “Brasileirinho”, which became an enormous commercial success in the whole world. Azevedo toured in Europe, Japan and the United States playing his music. With more than 20 LPs recorded, he moved to Brasilia in 1971, where he lived until his death in 1980.
The cavaquinho or cavaco is a small four stringed instrument similar to a ukalele. It is a very important instrument in Brazilian music, especially samba and choro. The standard tuning is D-G-B-D. Some of the most important players and composers in the instrument's Brazilian incarnation are Waldir Azevedo, Paulinho da Viola, Alceu Maia, Mauro Diniz and Paulinho Soares. The cavaquinho is also found in other places where the Portuguese made an imprint, namely Cape Verde and USA (especially Hawaii), and also became an important part of the typical music of those places.
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