Raul da Gama comes from a family of musicians. His father played the Brazilian violão. His mother was a pianist and an accomplished vocalist, singing soprano in the choir at St. Mary’s. An aunt, Olga Soares was a violinist and his father’s cousin, Madame Olga Crean, was one of the first coloured musicians to perform at The Royal Albert Hall. Mr. da Gama began his studies at Trinity College of Music, London in theory and pianoforte when he was 5 years old under the tutelage of another aunt, Marie Lourdes Saldanha, whom he credits with bringing the art of music alive and giving him what he calls “an undying love for music and the musicians of the past and present, who created it”. He continued studying theory and pianoforte in music until he was 14. Then he took up the study of harmony under Mr. Arthur Jacobs, while continuing his classical studies under his aunt, Madame Saldanha.
In 1974, Mr. Da Gama publishes his first book of poetry, “Three Poets” (NewGround), an event that marked the founding of that publishing house with his colleagues from Bombay University—Mr. Santan Rodrigues and Ms. Melanie Silgardo. Several books including one “Fix” by the celebrated English language and literature teacher, Ms. Eunice De Souza followed under that imprint, which continued to publish work by significant Indo-Anglian writers, until the co-operative folded up when Mr. Rodrigues passed away suddenly in July 2006. Mr. Da Gama had acquired, by then, a Masters in Romance Languages; something he did in order to study “The Cantos” of Ezra Pound. In 1984, Mr. Da Gama published a second volume of verse, “Asylum Poems” (Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbour).
However, the 70s marked the turning point in Mr. Da Gama’s musical pursuits. First he fell prey to the charms of Duke Ellington, whose record, “Paris Blues” he had been presented with by his father more than a decade earlier. 1974 also marks the year in which he become mesmerised by the works of the great bassist, composer and bandleader Charles Mingus, to whom he graduated after discovering the seminal work, “Meditations on Integration,” a deeply moving piece that Mr. Da Gama first heard on Mr. Mingus’ monumental concert at The Town Hall, New York. This song was to become the pivotal reason for Mr. Da Gama’s dogged pursuit of Mr. Mingus’ music; something that led to a 15-year hiatus from every other pursuit but the study of the music of Charles Mingus. Then, in 1991, when recovering from an accident in which he broke his leg and was bedridden, Mr. Da Gama began to write “The Unfinished Score—The Complete Works of Charles Mingus” a book in poetry and prose in which he re-located the music of Charles Mingus to the landscape of poetry. This adventure took his seven years and near-bankruptcy to complete.
In 1995, Mr. Da Gama became founding editor of TeleLIFE, a magazine he helped start for Sony Entertainment, in the Middle East and in Britain. In 1998, Mr. Da Gama began contributing to www.allaboutjazz.com becoming a Senior Editor in 2001. He also contributed his column to that online magazine and named it “Highly Opinionated”. A chance encounter with Danilo Navas on July 17 2008, at a party to felicitate the vocal group (then called) Grupo Vocal Desandann (now re-named The Creole Choir of Cuba) at the home of Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, led to joining forces with Mr. Navas to take www.latinjazznet.com to another level. With Mr. Da Gama on board, Mr. Navas went on to establish Jazz Global Media, and to found www.worldmusicreport.com.
Mr. Da Gama lives in Milton Ontario, Canada and writes every day from his sun-room, surrounded by his beloved library of books and music. His work has also appeared in Coda magazine and most recently in DownBeat magazine.