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Airto Moreira Biography

The journey from banging pots and pans to professional percussionist was short for Airto Moreira. Born in Brazil in 1941, Moreira was winning music contests by age 6 when the city of Curitiba gave him his own radio show. By 16, he moved to Sao Paulo and became a fixture as a singer and percussionist on television and at local nightclubs.

He met Flora Purim in Rio de Janeiro in 1965, two years before she moved to the United States. Airto followed her a few years later, and was immediately embraced by the jazz community. After working with Miles Davis in 1970, Airto was invited to join Davis’ band along with jazz icons such as Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and Keith Jarrett.

Aside from having played with a who’s who of music legends, Moreira also took his talents to the big screen, contributing music to Hollywood blockbusters such as Apocalypse Now and The Exorcist. In 1991, he formed the percussion ensemble Planet Drum with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Conga extraordinaire Giovanni Hidalgo, and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain. The group’s effort won Airto his first Grammy Award for World music, his second coming later the same night when Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra won for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.

In 2002, Airto, along with his wife and musical partner Flora Purim, were honored when Brazilian president Cardoso bestowed them the “Order of Rio Branca,” an honor for Brazilian who have contributed significantly to the spread of Brazilian culture and national interests.

Dividing his time equally between the stage, the studio, and the classroom as a professor of Ethnomusicology at UCLA, Airto Moreira wove his distinct rhythms around the globe and with the most famous musicians of his time, becoming one of the most unique and individual pioneers of world music.
Flora Purim Biography
Before fleeing from her native Brazil to the United States in 1967 to escape a repressive military regime, Flora Purim had already mastered the piano, guitar, and developed her singing style thanks to the help of her musical immigrant parents. Once in the United States, she toured and played alongside Duke Pearson, Gil Evans, and Cannonball Adderley before becoming a founding member of Return To Forever, a fusion group with Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, and Joe Farrell that defined the electric, “new jazz” movement.
Her first solo album, Butterfly Dreams, was released in 1973, and cemented her place in the jazz world, prompting Downbeat Magazine to name her one of the Top Five Jazz Singers. She spent the next twenty years working with some of music’s biggest superstars, such as Santana, before winning her two Grammy Awards in 1991. This achievement showcased Flora’s diverse talent and musical ear, winning one Grammy for Best Live Jazz Album, and the other for a World music album with her husband, Airto, and Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.
In the 1990s she formed the Latin jazz band Fourth World along with her husband, guitarist Jose Neto, and reed player Gary Meek. Determined to gain a larger audience by collaborating with other Latin music stars of the time, the group toured worldwide, performing with a variety of jazz, dance, and pop musicians.
Highly regarded in Brazilian music circles, Flora Purim’s incredible six-octave voice places her at a high premium amongst musicians worldwide, who recognize her remarkable and unique gift.
Joe Farrell Biography
Joe Farrell’s influential sound helped shape the jazz world’s evolution from hard bop to contemporary fusion. Farrell’s started off playing the clarinet at age 11. After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1959, Farrell moved to New York City and enjoyed stints with the Maynard Ferguson Big Band, Slide Hampton, and recorded with Charles Mingus and Jaki Byard. In 1966, he joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and in 1967 he simultaneously began playing and recording with Elvin Jones. During this period, he released his two most notable albums, Moon Gems and Outback, which combined the hard bop of his early work with the fusion influence he was to become most known for.
In the 1970s, Farrell was one of the founding members of Chick Corea’s fusion group, Return to Forever, before joining the Mingus Dynasty later in the decade. After recovering from a drug addiction, Farrell moved to Los Angeles where he continued to release a variety of critically acclaimed albums, including a 1990 release with guitar virtuoso George Benson.