Airto Moreira  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Airto Moreira (born August 5, 1941) is a Brazilian Jazz percussionist and musician. He currently resides in Los Angeles.


Life and career

Early life

Airto Moreira was born in Itaiopolis, Brazil, into a family of folk healers, and raised in Curitiba and São Paulo. Showing an extraordinary talent for music at a young age, he became a professional musician at age 13, and his first landmark recording was Quarteto Novo with Hermeto Pascoal in 1967. Shortly after, he followed his wife Flora Purim to the United States.

In the USA

After moving to the USA, Airto began playing regularly with jazz musicians in New York, including the bassist Walter Booker. Through Booker, Airto began playing with Joe Zawinul, who in turn introduced him to Miles Davis. At this time Miles was experimenting with electronic instruments and rock and funk rhythms, a form which would soon come to be called Jazz fusion. Airto was to participate in several of the most important projects of this emerging musical form. Airto stayed with Miles for about two years, touring and participating in the creation of the seminal fusion recording Bitches Brew. Shortly after leaving Miles, Airto joined other Miles alumni Joe Zawinul, Wayne Shorter and Miroslav Vitous in their group Weather Report, playing percussion on their first album. He left Weather Report (replaced by Muruga Booker for their Sweetnighter album) to join fellow Miles alumnus Chick Corea's new band Return to Forever. He played drums on Return to Forever's first two albums, their Return to Forever and Light as a Feather. These albums are regarded today as classics of the fusion genre.

Airto was a contributor to many of Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart's world music / percussion albums in Rykodisc's The World collection, including The Apocalypse Now Sessions, Dafos, At the Edge, and Planet Drum.

Airto has played with many of the greatest names in Jazz including Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Paul Desmond, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett, Al Di Meola, Zakir Hussain, George Duke and Mickey Hart. He also has played with symphonic orchestras and as a solo percussionist, and during live performances often includes a samba solo, where he emulates the sound of an entire band using just a single pandeiro. He frequently introduces himself to the audience with a lesson in pronouncing his name; "eye, ear, toe".

In addition to jazz concerts and recordings, he has composed and contributed music to film and television (including scores for Apocalypse Now and Last Tango in Paris), played at the re-opening of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt (along with fellow professor of ethnomusicology Halim El-Dabh), and taught at UCLA and the California Brazil Camp.

Family and personal life

Airto is married to jazz singer Flora Purim, and their daughter Diana Moreira is also a singer.


  • Airto was voted the number one percussionist in “Down Beat Magazine's Critics Poll” for the years 1975 through 1982 and most recently in 1993.
  • In September of 2002, Brazil’s President Fernando Henrique Cardoso named Airto Moreira and Flora Purim to the “Order of Rio Branco”, one of Brazil's highest honors.

Selected Recordings

Source: Template:Ref

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Airto Moreira" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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