Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Airto: The Percussion Revolution

Airto Moreira: Brief Profile
& Extended Discography

by Chris McGowan

Airto Moreira spearheaded the Brazilian "percussion invasion" of the late 1960s and '70s that infused global jazz and popular music with new rhythms, percussive textures, and tone colors. He was one of the first percussionists, in Brazil or outside it, to play many different instruments in performances, rather than specialize in a particular type of percussion. He broke new ground by mixing them with an avant-garde sensibility, great improvisational skills, and a charismatic showmanship. 

In concert, Moreira creates an atmosphere of surprise and discovery; at times he has an edge of wildness and at other moments he seems to go into a trance and tap into spiritual energies. Airto revolutionized the role of the percussionist with his performances with Miles Davis, Weather Report, Return to Forever, his wife Flora Purim, and other artists, and on his own solo albums. Afterwards, many bands added a percussionist with a wide array of instruments, and percussive coloration became common in jazz and fusion.

Airto was atypical of Brazilian percussionists at the time. He was interested in progressive interpretations of traditional Brazilian styles, and he was a multi-talented instrumentalist who didn't fit into any one niche. At the time, Brazilian percussionists specialized in just one instrument, such as a berimbau or cuíca or pandeiro. Airto played nearly everything. 

Airto astonished American musicians and producers with his vast array of percussion pieces—cuíca, berimbau, agogô, afoxê, ganzá, pandeiro (his strongest solo instrument), pau de chuva (rain stick), and various other rattlers, shakers, and drums, as well as musical devices that he had invented. Each instrument had different tones and textural possibilities, and their sum total—especially in Airto's dexterous hands—was all rather staggering for Americans who were seeing him perform for the first time. 

When Airto came to the United States, he arrived at the right moment. Jazz was especially ready for him in the late 1960s because of the syncretic nature of fusion and because many American musicians were intrigued by Brazil because of the success of bossa nova and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. It also helped that Airto, and his wife Flora, were at heart jazz musicians. Almost all the previous Brazilian musicians who had arrived in North America before him were conversant with bossa nova and other Brazilian idioms, or perhaps with "jazz bossa." But Airto and Flora were much more in tune with the musical sensibilities of artists like Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and Joe Zawinul.

 Airto & Weather Report

He and his wife Flora Purim were the most famous Brazilian jazz artists in the 1970s, and a crucial part of the burgeoning jazz-fusion scene of those years. Jazz fusion developed in the late 1960s from jazz played with an increased rhythmic emphasis (especially drawing from rock, funk, R&B, and Brazilian grooves); the use of heavily amplified electric instruments and electronic effects; and increased percussive coloration. While fusion is sometimes seen as synonymous with "jazz rock," it was far more expansive than that, as evidenced by the many albums featuring Airto and Flora. 

Flora, Airto and Hermeto Pascoal
Airto had such an impact that Downbeat magazine added a percussion category to its annual critics poll in 1974 and readers poll a year later; Moreira took top honors in the first polls and on more than twenty other occasions—most recently earning the no. 1 spot in the 2010 readers poll. He was also voted the number one percussionist on various occasions by Jazz Times, Modern Drummer, Drum magazine, Jazzizz, and Jazz Central Station's Global Jazz Poll.

READ MORE: Airto is interviewed in The Brazilian Music Book: Brazil's Singers, Songwriters, and Musicians Tell the Story of Bossa Nova, MPB, and Brazilian Jazz and Pop by Chris McGowan, which can be read on Kindle and Galaxy, iPad, iPhone, Android, Mac and PC with the free Kindle app.

Airto Extended Discography
(and Songs Recorded by Others)

Airto Moreira
Natural Feelings. Buddah Records, 1970.
Seeds on the Ground. Buddah Records, 1971.
Fingers. CTI, 1972.
Free. CTI, 1972.
Virgin Land. Salvation Records, 1974.
Identity. Arista, 1975.
Promises of the Sun. Arista, 1976.
I'm Fine, How Are You? Warner Music (Japan), 1977.
Touching You…Touching Me. Warner Music (Japan), 1979.
Misa Espiritual: Airto's Brazilian Mass. Harmonia Mundi, 1984.
Latino: Aqui Se Puede. Montuno, 1986.
Samba de Flora. Montuno, 1988.
Struck by Lightning. Venture, 1990.
The Other Side of This. Rykodisc, 1992.
Airto Moreira and the Gods of Jazz: Killer Bees. B&W (U.K.), 1993.
Jump. Westwind, 1995.
Revenge of the Killer Bees. Electric M.E.L.T. (Switzerland), 1998.
Homeless. M.E.L.T. 2000 (Switzerland), 2000.
Life After That. Narada, 2003.
Airto Live at the Modern Drummer Festival. Hudson Music, 2009.

Airto Moreira and Flora Purim
Humble People. Concord, 1985.
Three-Way Mirror (with Joe Farrell). Reference Recordings, 1987.
The Magicians. Concord, 1986.
The Sun Is Out. Concord, 1987.
The Colours of Life. In+Out Records, 1988.
Live in Berkeley. Airflow, 2012.

Jacob Anderskov and Airto Moreira
Ears to the Ground. ILK Music, 2008.

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez and Airto Moreira
The Boston Three Party. Universal (Japan), 2007.

Fourth World (Airto, Flora, José Neto & others)
Fourth World. B&W, 1992.
Live in South Africa 1993. B&W, 1993.
Encounters of the Fourth World. B&W, 1995.
Last Journey of the Fourth World. B&W, 1998.

Mickey Hart, Airto Moreira, and Flora Purim
Dafos. Rykodisc, 1982.

Mickey Hart (with Airto and others)
The Rhythm Devils Play River Music: Apocalypse Now Sessions. Rykodisc, 1980.
At the Edge. Rykodisc, 1990.
Planet Drum. Rykodisc, 1991.
Mickey Hart's Mystery Box. Rykodisc, 1996.

Flora Purim (with Airto)
Butterfly Dreams. Milestone, 1973.
500 Miles High. Milestone, 1974.
Stories To Tell. Milestone, 1974.
Open Your Eyes You Can Fly. Milestone, 1976.
Encounter. Milestone, 1976.
Nothing Will Be as It Was...Tomorrow. Warner, 1977.
Everyday Everynight. Warner, 1978.
That's What She Said. Milestone, 1978.
Carry On. Warner, 1979
The Midnight Sun. Virgin, 1988.
Queen of the Night. Sound Wave, 1992.
Speed of Light. B&W Music, 1995.
Flora Purim sings Milton Nascimento. Narada, 2000.
Perpetual Emotion. Narada, 2001.
Speak No Evil. Narada, 2003.
Flora's Song. Narada, 2005.

Return to Forever (with Airto)
Return to Forever. ECM, 1972.
Light as a Feather. Polydor, 1973.

Quarteto Novo (with Airto)
Quarteto Novo. EMI (Brazil), 1967.

Sambalanço Trio (with Airto)
Sambalanço Trio. Audio Fidelity (Brazil), 1964.
À Vontade Mesmo (with Raul de Souza). RCA Victor (Brazil), 1965.
Reencontro com Sambalanço Trio. Som Maior (Brazil), 1965.
Lennie Dale & Sambalanço Trio no Zum Zum. Som Maior (Brazil), 1965.
Sambalanço Trio. Som Maior (Brazil), 1965.

Sambrasa Trio (with Airto)
Em Som Maior. Som Maior (Brazil), 1965.

Weather Report (with Airto)
Weather Report. Columbia, 1971.

Select Airto Appearances on Other Recordings
9 O'Clock. 9 O'Clock. Caligola (Italy), 2006.
Cannonball Adderley. The Happy People. Capitol, 1970.
_______. The Black Messiah. Capitol, 1972
_______. Soul of the Bible. Capitol, 1972.
_______. Big Man. Milestone, 1975
_______. Lovers. Milestone, 1975.
_______. Phenix. Milestone, 1975
_______. Music, You All. Capitol, 1976.
Apocalypse Now (soundtrack). Elektra, 1979.
Gato Barbieri. Bolivia. Flying Dutchman, 1973.
_______. Under Fire. Flying Dutchman, 1973.
_______. El Gato. Flying Dutchman, 1975.
George Benson. White Rabbit. CTI, 1971.
Brecker Brothers. Détente. Arista, 1980.
Dee Dee Bridgewater. Just Family. Elektra, 1978.
Donald Byrd. Kofi. Blue Note, 1969.
_______. Electric Byrd. Blue Note, 1970.
The Carpenters. Lovelines. A&M, 1977.
Chicago. Chicago 13. Columbia, 1979.
Stanley Clarke. Stanley Clarke. Epic, 1974.
_______. I Wanna Play for You. Epic, 1979.
Norman Connors. Dance of Magic. Sequel, 1972.
Chick Corea. Secret Agent. Polydor, 1978.
_______. Tap Step. Warner, 1980.
Hank Crawford. Help Me Make it Through the Night. Kudu, 1972.
Miles Davis. Bitches Brew. Columbia, 1969.
_______. Isle of Wight. Columbia, 1970.
_______. Miles Davis at Fillmore. Columbia, 1970.
_______. Live-Evil. Columbia, 1971.
_______. On the Corner. Columbia, 1972.
_______. Big Fun. Columbia, 1974.
_______. Get Up with It. Columbia, 1974.
Eumir Deodato. Prelude. CTI, 1972.
Eumir Deodato and João Donato. Donato Deodato. Muse, 1973.
Depeche Mode. Exciter. Reprise, 2001.
Paul Desmond. Summertime. A&M, 1968.
_______. From the Hot Afternoon. A&M, 1969.
_______. Bridge Over Troubled Water. A&M, 1971.
Al DiMelola. Soaring Through a Dream. Manhattan, 1985.
_______. Cielo e Terra. One Way, 1985.
George Duke. Feel. MPS, 1974.
_______. The Aura Will Prevail. MPS, 1975.
_______. I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry. MPS, 1975.
_______. Liberated Fantasies. MPS, 1976.
_______. A Brazilian Love Affair. Epic, 1979.
_______. Snapshot. Warner, 1992.
_______. Is Love Enough? Warner, 1997.
Elements (Mark Egan and Danny Gottlieb). Spirit River. RCA/BMG, 1990.
Gil Evans. Where Flamingos Fly. Artists House, 1971.
Joe Farrell. Outback. CTI, 1971.
_______. Night Dancing. Warner, 1978.
Stan Getz. Captain Marvel. Columbia, 1972.
_______. Best of Two Worlds. Columbia, 1976.
Astrud Gilberto. Astrud Gilberto with Stanley Turrentine. Columbia, 1971.
Dizzy Gillespie. Rhythmstick. CTI, 1990.
Dizzy Gillespie and the United Nations Orchestra. Live at the Royal Festival Hall. Enja, 1989.
Herbie Hancock. Dis is da Drum. Mercury, 1994.
Paul Horn. Brazilian Images. Black Sun, 1989.
Freddie Hubbard. First Light. Columbia, 1971.
_______. Sky Dive. CBS, 1972.
_______. Polar AC. CTI, 1975.
Bobby Hutcherson. Color Schemes. Landmark, 1985.
Bob James. H. Columbia, 1980.
_______. Flashback Follow Bob James. Tappan Zee, 1981.
Keith Jarrett. Expectations. Columbia, 1972.
Antonio Carlos Jobim. Tide. Polygram, 1970.
_______. Stone Flower. Epic, 1970.
_______. Jobim. MCA, 1972.
Chaka Khan. Chaka. Tattoo/Warner, 1978.
John Klemmer. Arabesque. MCA, 1978.
_______. Brazilia. MCA, 1979.
Kodo. Mondo Head. Red Ink, 2002.
John McLaughlin. My Goal's Beyond. Rykodisc, 1970.
Sérgio Mendes. Primal Roots. A&M, 1972.
_______. Brasil '88. Elektra, 1978.
Joni Mitchell. Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. Asylum, 1977.
Milton Nascimento. Courage. Polygram, 1968.
_______. Milton. A&M, 1976.
Hermeto Pascoal. Brazilian Adventure. Muse, 1972.
_______. Slaves Mass. Warner, 1977.
Duke Pearson. I Don't Care Who Knows It. Blue Note, 1968.
_______. How Insensitive. Blue Note, 1969.
Dianne Reeves. Dianne Reeves. Blue Note, 1987.
_______. Quiet After the Storm. Blue Note, 1995.
Boris Salchak and Christy Doran. Shaman. M.E.L.T. 2000, 2000.
Santana. Borboletta. Columbia, 1974.
_______. Dance of the Rainbow Serpent. Columbia, 1975.
Jovino Santos Neto. Veja o Som (See the Sound). Adventure Music, 2010.
Wayne Shorter. Super Nova. Blue Note, 1969.
_______. Native Dancer. Columbia, 1975.
_______. High Life. Verve, 1995.
Paul Simon. Paul Simon. Warner, 1971.
_______. There Goes Rhymin' Simon. Warner, 1973.
_______. Hearts and Bones. Warner, 1983.
James Taylor. That's Why I'm Here. Columbia, 1985.
Cal Tjader. Amazonas. Fantasy, 1975.
Transglobal Underground. International Times. Nation Records, 1994.
Stanley Turrentine. Salt Song. CTI, 1971.
_______. The Sugar Man. CTI, 1973.
McCoy Tyner. 13th House. Milestone, 1982.
Geraldo Vandré and Quarteto Novo. Canto Geral. Odeon (Brazil), 1968.
Miroslav Vitous. Magical Shepherd. Warner, 1976.
Narada Michael Walden. Awakening. Atlantic, 1979.
Grover Washington, Jr. Inner City Blues. Kudu Records, 1971.
_______. All the Kings Horses. Kudu Records, 1972.

Select Airto Moreira Compositions and Co-Compositions Recorded By Others
9 O'Clock. "Solo Percussion." 9 O'Clock. Caligola (Italy), 2006.
Cannonball Adderley. "The Happy People" (Anatelio). The Happy People. Capitol, 1970.
Betta Daze. "Kazoulu." Future Earth (EP). Atlantic Jaxx (U.K.), 1999.
Bellini. "Celebration Suite." Samba de Janeiro. Orbit Records (Germany), 1997.
Bond. "Samba" (Samba de Janeiro). Classified. Decca, 2004.
Marco Bosco. "Brazilian Invention," "The Other Side of the Lake." Tokyo Diary. Koala Records, 1993.
Donald Byrd. "Xibaba." Electric Byrd. Blue Note, 1970.
Oscar Castro-Neves. "Caninana." Live at Blue Note Tokyo. CT Music (Japan), 2009.
George Duke. "I C'n Hear That." Liberated Fantasies. MPS, 1976.
Nicola Fasano with Pitbull. "Oye Baby" (single). Self, 2010.
Gil Evans. "Solo." Gil Evans 75th Birthday Concert. BBC, 2001 (recorded in 1987).
Herbie Hancock. "Shooz." Dis Is Da Drum. Mercury, 1994.
The Heartists. "Belo Horizonti," "Celebration Suite." Belo Horizonti. Atlantic Jaxx (U.K.), 1996.
Kodo. "Berimbau Jam," "Sange" "Maracatu." Mondo Head. Red Ink, 2002.
Sergio Mendes. "Misturada." Brasil '88. Elektra, 1978.
José Neto. "Waiting for Zakir." Neto. B&W Music, 1993.
Duke Pearson. "I Don't Know," "Xibaba." I Don't Care Who Knows It. Blue Note, 1968.
Pitbull. "Oye Baby." Planet Pit. Polo Grounds Music, 2011.
David Ray. "Misturado." Agradecido. Jonive Records, 2003.
Rhythmatrix. "Rhythmatrix Interlude." Rhythmatrix. Rumbling Records (Japan), 2009.
Santana. "Xibaba." Lotus. Columbia, 1974 (available only as import until 1991).
Jovino Santos Neto. "Veja o Som (See the Sound)." Veja o Som. Adventure Music, 2010.
Cal Tjader. "Xibaba." Amazonas. Fantasy, 1975.
Cal Tjader and Charlie Byrd. "Tambu: Tombo in 7/4." Tambu. Fantasy, 1973.