D Booker (daughter of Flora & Airto), vocals
Lew Soloff, trumpet
Mark Egan, bass
Jose Neto, guitar
Helio Alves, piano
Airto Moreíra was born in 1941 in the small village of Itaiopolis in the south of Brazil and was raised in Curitiba. Even before he could walk he would start shaking and banging on the floor every time the radio played a hot song. This worried his mother, but his grandmother recognized his potential and encouraged him to express himself. By the time he was six years old he had won many music contests by singing and playing percussion. The city gave him his own radio program every Saturday afternoon. At thirteen he became a professional musician, playing percussion, drums, and singing in local dance bands. He moved to Sao Paulo at the age of sixteen and performed regularly in nightclubs and television as a percussionist, drummer, and singer.
In 1965 he met the singer Flora Purim in Rio de Janeiro. Flora moved to the USA in 1967, and Airto followed her shortly after. Coming to New York, Airto began playing with musicians like Reggie Workman, JJ Johnson, Cedar Walton, and bassist Walter Booker. It was through Booker that Airto began playing with the greats - Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Paul Desmond, and Joe Zawinul,to name a few. Zawinul recommended Airto to Miles Davis for a recording session in 1970 for the Bitches Brew album. Davis then invited Airto to join his group, which included such jazz icons as Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, and later John McLaughlin and Keith Jarrett. Airto remained with Davis for two years, and he appears on such releases as Live/Evil, Live at the Fillmore, On the Corner, The Isle of Wight, Bitches Brew, and later releases, including the Fillmore Sessions.
CHECK OUT AIRTO PERFORMING A SOLO PERCUSSION PIECE
Following his stint with Davis, Airto was invited to form the original Weather Report with Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Miroslav Vitous, and Alphonse Mouzon, with whom he recorded the album The Weather Report. Soon after, he joined Chick Corea’s original Return to Forever group with Flora Purim, Joe Farrell, and Stanley Clarke, and they recorded the albums Return to Forever and Light as a Feather.
In 1974 Airto formed his first US band, Fingers, with Flora Purim. Since then they have performed constantly all over the world and recorded their own album for major record companies in Europe and America. Airto remains one of popular music’s most in-demand percussionists. His collection of instruments, along with his knack for playing the right sound at the right moment, has made him the first choice of many producers and bandleaders. His work with Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Gil Evans, Gato Barbieri, Michael Brecker, The Crusaders, Chicago, and many others, as well as his contributions to movie sound tracks such as The Exorcist, Last Tango in Paris, King of the Gypsies, and Apocalypse Now, represent only a small number of the musical contributions Airto has made over the last three decades.
Airto's impact as a drummer has been so powerful that DownBeat magazine added the category of percussion to its readers and critics polls, which he has won over twenty times since 1973. In the past few years he was voted #1 percussionist by Jazz Times, Modern Drummer, Drum Magazine, Jazzizz Magazine, Jazz Central Station’s Global Jazz Poll on the internet, as well as in many European, Latin American, and Asian publications. He has also been advancing the cause of world and percussion music as a member of the Planet Drum percussion ensemble with Mickey Hart (drummer for The Grateful Dead), master conga player Giovanni Hidalgo, and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, along with Flora Purim, Babatunde Olatunji, Sikiru Adepoju, and Vikku Vinayakram. Planet Drum won a Grammy Award in 1991 for World Music. Airto also contributed to another Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra, which received the award for Best Live Jazz Album.
In September of 2002, Brazil’s president Fernando Henrique Cardoso named Airto and Flora Purim to the Order of Rio Branco, one of Brazil's highest honors. The Order of Rio Branco was created in 1963 to formally recognize Brazilian and foreign individuals who have significantly contributed to the promotion of Brazil's international relations. The order is named after Barão do Rio Branco, Brazil's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1902 to 1912, who is famous for his role in negotiating the national borders of Brazil and is referred to as the “Father of Brazil's Diplomacy."
For three years, Airto was a professor in the Ethnomusicology department of UCLA, where he broke new ground in musical concepts and creative energy. He currently he divides his time between recording studios, workshops and clinics, creating new projects, researching new materials for future releases, and live performances in the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
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