Gilberto Passos Gil Moreira was born June 26, 1942 in Salvador do Bahia, Brazil though he spent much of his childhood in the countryside of Ituaca. The offspring of a doctor and a schoolteacher, he attended the Marist Brothers school until he was nine and then returned to Salvador for secondary school.
Gil’s interest in music began when he was two and grew up listening to the forro music and the street performers of Salvador. Early on, he began to play the drums and the trumpet, and then took up the accordion before attending music school. He first played classical music, but grew more interested in the folk and popular music of Brazil, influenced by accordionist Luiz Gonzaga. He discovered the samba music of Dorival Caymmi, American big band jazz and tango.
In 1950 while still in high school he joined his first band, Os Desafinados (The Out of Tunes), playing accordion and vibraphone and singing. Soon afterwards he settled on the guitar as his instrument after hearing Joao Gilberto and started playing bossa nova. Gil met guitarist and singer Caetano Veloso at the Universidade Federal da Bahia in 1963 and immediately they began collaborating and performing together, releasing a single and EP soon afterwards. Along with Maria Bethania, Gal Costa and Tom Ze, they opened the Vila Velha Theatre with a night of bossa nova and traditional Brazilian songs in 1964.
Gilberto would go on to become musical director of the theatre’s concert series, sold bananas, composed jingles for tv ads and work for Unilever before moving to Sao Paulo in in 1965. Though he had a hit single with Louvação that was later recorded by Elis Regina, his first solo hit was the 1969 song Aquele Abraco. Arrested with Veloso he spent seven months in jail and house arrest and then instructed to leave the country. After a concert in Salvador in ’69 they left for Portugal, Paris and London where he listened to Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear. He performed with Yes, Pink Floyd and the Incredible String Band. It was in London that he recorded Gilberto Gil Nega and attended Miles Davis and Sun Ra concerts.
Over the course of his career he participated in the Aids benefit album Red, Hot + Rio, win Grammy awards, receive the Legion d’honneur from France, and was the first Latin American recipient of the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm. In between performances he turned to politics becoming the Salvador Secretary of Culture, founded the environmental protection organization Onda Azul (Blue Wave), was a Good will Ambassador for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, became Brazil’s Minister of Culture and then retired due to a vocal cord polyp.
Tenor, baritone and falsetto vocalist, guitarist, lyricist and composer Gilberto Gil who is one of the pioneers of tropicália, and became increasing interested in the welfare of Black culture and focused on Afro-Brazilian culture. He continues to transcend the eras of dance and music trends emerging on the other side with a blend of music styles that stay true to his traditional Bahian roots while engaging with commercial markets.
Hermeto Pascoal was born an albino on June 22, 1936 in Lagoa da Canoa, Alagoas, Brazil at a time when there was no electricity. He learned the accordion from his father and practiced for hours as his condition of birth did not allow him to work the fields.
Hermeto’s career began in 1964 with appearances on several Brazilian recordings alongside relatively unknown groups that included Edu Lobo, Elis Regina and Cesar Camargo Mariano, establishing widely influential new directions in post-bossa Brazilian jazz.
By 1966 he was playing in the Sambrasa Trio with Airto Moriera and Humberto Clayber releasing one album Em Som Maior. Then he and Airto joined Trio Novo and in 1967 renamed the group Quarteto Novo and released an album that launched the careers of Pascoal and Moreira. Pascoal would then go on to join the multi-faceted group Brazilian Octopus.
Pascoal initially caught the international public’s attention with an appearance on Miles Davis’s 1971 album Live-Evil, which featured him on three pieces he composed. Later collaborations involved fellow Brazilian musicians Airto and Flora Purim. From the late 1970s onward he has mostly led his own groups, that have included bassist Itibere Zwarg, pianist Jvino Santos-Neto and percussionists Nene, Pernambuco and Zabele.
Known as o Bruxo (the Sorcerer), Hermeto often makes music with unconventional objects such as teapots, children’s toys, and animals, as well as keyboards, button accordion, melodica, saxophone, guitar, flute, voice, various brass and folkloric instruments. Folk music from rural Brazil is another important influence in his work.
Between 1996 and 1997, Pascoal worked on a book project called the Calendário do Som, that contains a song for every day of the year, including 29 February, so that everyone would have a song for his or her birthday. He continues to perform, record and tour.
Eliane Elias was born on March 19, 1960 in Sao Paulo, Brazil and her musical talents began to show at an early age. She started studying piano at age seven, and by age twelve was transcribing solos from the great jazz masters. Fifteen, saw her teaching piano and improvisation and her performing career began at age seventeen, working with Brazilian singer/songwriter Toquinho and the poet Vinicius de Moraes.
In 1981, she headed for New York and a year later landed a spot in the acclaimed group Steps Ahead. In 1988 she was voted Best New Talent in the Critics Poll of Jazziz magazine, together with Herbie Hancock she was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best Jazz Solo Performance” category for her 1995 release, Solos and Duets, received the Downbeat Readers Poll’s “Best Jazz Album” for her recording The Three Americas and has been named in five other categories: Beyond Musician, Best Composer, Jazz Pianist, Female Vocalist, and Musician of the Year.
Elias has recorded with RCA Victor, Bluebird, Denon, Manhattan, Blue Note, EMI, Concord/Picante, ECM and Savoy Jazz spanning over twenty albums to date. She has recorded two albums solely dedicated to the works of the composer, Plays Jobim and Sings Jobim. Her 1998 release, Eliane Elias Sings Jobim, winning Best Vocal Album in Japan and was awarded Best Brazilian Album in the Jazziz Critics Poll. She has been featured in a Calle 54 documentary, received several Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album, and recorded with Denyce Graves on The Lost Days.
On her first album titled “Amanda” released in 1984 she collaborated with Randy Brecker and shortly thereafter she began her solo career. She has also collaborated with bassist Marc Johnson on the album Swept Away. Pianist, singer, arranger and songwriter Eliane Elias, known for her distinctive blend of her Brazilian roots with voice, jazz and classical music, continues to compose, record, perform and tour.
Sofia Ribeiro was born on March 18, 1978 in Lisboa, Portugal. She graduated with a degree in jazz performance from “Escola Superior de Música e Artes do Espectáculo do Porto”, did a one year exchange program in Barcelona at “Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya”, and another one on scholarship at Berklee College of Music. She also received a master’s degree in jazz performance from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, and went on to study for one year at the “Conservatoire National Superieur de Paris”.
Ribeiro has recorded five CDs in duo and quartet settings, performed children’s music written for books, has toured throughout Europe performing at the Sunset Jazz Club, Jamboree, Silesian Jazz Festival as well as the Kennedy Center and Berklee Performance Center among others.,
Sofia has taken 1st prize at the international competitions “Crest Jazz Vocal” in France, 1st prize at the international competition for singing musicians “Voicingers” in Poland, and 2nd prize at the “Brussels International Young Jazz Singers Competition”, and was a part of the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Vocalist and composer Sofia Ribeiro has developed strong and emotional performances blending elements of jazz, Brazilian and Portuguese music within her charming and powerful sound. She continues to perform, record and tour.
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Flora Purim was born on March 6, 1942 in Rio de Janeiro to Jewish parents who were both classical musicians, her father a violinist and her mother a pianist. She discovered jazz when her mother played 78 vinyl rpms of Dinah Washington, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, and Erroll Garner while her husband was out of the house.
Purim began her career in Brazil during the early 1960s. During this period, she made a recording of bossa nova standards by Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal titled Flora e M.P.M. Later in the decade she became lead singer for the Quarteto Novo, led by Hermeto Pascoal and Airto Moreira.
Flora mixed jazz with radical protest songs to defy the repressive Brazilian government of that time and a 1964 military coup led to censorship of song lyrics. Shortly before leaving Brazil she married Airto and arriving in New York in 1967, they became immersed in the emerging Electric Jazz. They toured Europe with Stanley Clarke, Stan Getz and Gil Evans. In 1972, alongside Clarke and Joe Farrell, they were, for the first two albums, members of Return To Forever. That year the band released their debut self-titled album Return To Forever, followed the same year as Light as a Feather.
In 1973, Purim released her first solo album in the United States, titled Butterfly Dreams. She was chosen by the Down Beat reader’s poll as one of the top five jazz singers. She worked with Carlos Santana and Mickey Hart and throughout the 1970s, Flora released a string of albums for the Milestone label, became involved with the Uruguayan band Opa, (which means “hi” in Uruguay), Purim collaborated in vocals in the band’s second album Magic Time, and in return, Opa played in “Corre Niña” on Flora’s album Nothing Will Be as It Was…Tomorrow .
In the 1980s Purim toured with Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nation Orchestra, culminating with Gillespie’s Grammy Award-winning album Dizzy Gillespie and the United Nation Orchestra – Live at the Royal Festival Hall, London. The Nineties saw her singing on the Grammy Award-winning album Planet Drum by Mickey Hart, the release of her own album and world tour, Speed of Light and a new band with contributions from Billy Cobham, George Duke, Alphonso Johnson, Giovanni Hidalgo and others.
Through the 1990s, Purim worked on a number of Latin projects, collaborated with P.M. Dawn on the album Red Hot + Rio. She has a huge catalogue of music that showcases her rare six-octave voice renders a vocal style influenced by Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald, drifting from lyrics to wordlessness without ever losing touch with the melody and rhythm. She broadened her repertoire to include traditional mainstream jazz, bebop and doing numbers in 4/4 time instead of the traditional Brazilian 2/4 beat. She is a 4-time winner Down Beat’s Best Female Jazz Vocalist and 2-time Grammy nominee for Best Female Jazz Performance and has been named “Order of Rio Branco” by Brazil President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. She continues to perform, record and tour.
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