Jazz
7:46 am
Fri August 10, 2007

An Interview with Airto Moreira

Last Call celebrates the percussionist/bandleader's 66th Birthday

Chris Cooke with Airto (21:30)

Omaha, Nebraska – Airto Moreira is a one-man percussion army. At 66, he shows no signs of slowing down.

An internationally recognized percussionist and bandleader, Airto Moreira was born in August 5th, 1941 in Brazil. Even before he could walk he would start shaking and banging on the floor every time the radio played a hot song. At thirteen Airto 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.

Relocating to the United States in the late 1960s shortly after his soon to be wife Flora Purim left Brazil for America, Airto found work with the leading jazz musicians of the day. Miles Davis invited Airto to work with his adventuresome band, which was largely responsible for launching fusion jazz in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Airto's percussion can be heard on the Complete Bitches Brew and Cellar Door Sessions box sets, as well as several other Miles Davis recordings of the time.

Airto was also in the first editions of Weather Report and Chick Corea's Return to Forever,

bands that were led by musicians who worked with Miles at the birth of fusion.

One of the most in demand percussionists and educators in the world, Airto's work has been featured on several motion picture soundtracks, including Apocalypse Now. Downbeat magazine added the category of percussion to its readers and critics polls, recognizing Airto's award winning impact. Airto has won the Downbeat poll over twenty times since 1973, including 2002 where, once again, he was voted the number one percussionist.

Last Call host Chris Cooke caught up with Airto in Iowa City during the Iowa City Jazz Festival earlier this summer. Airto performed there with Eyedentity, in an opening night set that was broadcast live over KIOS-FM. Saturday night's Last Call featured excerpts of host Chris Cooke's interview with Airto along with music from the internationally famous percussionist and bandleader(Photo credit: Rebecca Cooke). Click on the link at the top of this page to hear the interview(Recording Engineer: Mike Hansen).