Aja Addy was born 1948 in Accra, Ghana. He was an acclaimed Ghanaian master drummer and percussionist. Influenced by his work as a tigari priest, the nephew of Mustapha Tettey Addy combined the power of the Kpanlogo drum with the more relaxed highlife rhythms of Ghana. Aja toured extensively with Reinhard Flatischler’s MegaDrums ensemble.
“My father was a drummer“, explained Aja Addy, “so I learned how to drum and to dance from him. He has taught me the songs we play in our concerts. They are from the villages in the Greater Accra region and you’ll hear them at any occasions, when a baby is born, at parties, weddings and funerals All my musicians are Ga, a people of fishermen, hunters, carpenters or masons like me. My family taught me how to work with cement. What kind of job you get depends on the region where you live. For example I lived near the river so I learned how to swim and fish, but when the river carried no water, we had to hunt, so I learned all this, but in different seasons. Once every year we go to Ghana to say hello to my family and to have the ceremonies. I also teach my students there.”
After two successful solo releases, Aja Addy recorded a live album titled Live Refreshment with his band Tsui Anaa (Patience). It was recorded in Bremen, Germany and covered traditional songs and rhythms of the Ga people in Ghana. They are played at ceremonies as well as parties and dance festivities.
Born in Saint-Cloud, France, in 1957, Mino Cinelu played guitar when he was a child, calling it his “first love.” As a youth, he visited his father’s homeland of Martinique and absorbed the island’s chouval bwa music with its unique rhythms. He started playing drums as a teenager, forming his own funk-fusion band. He also picked up percussion and devoured his father’s Afro-Cuban records, which he says led to his interesting playing style.
He lived in England for a year, and eventually moved to the United States of America, where he quickly hooked up with Miles Davis and began his international career. He has since been in high demand from performers of all genres.
In addition to his solo recordings he appeared on numerous albums, including Gazeuse! (1976) with Gong; Imaginary Day (1997) with Pat Metheny Group; We Want Miles (1982), Star People (1983), Decoy (1984) and That’s What Happened: Live in Germany 1987 (DVD, 1987) with Miles Davis; and Sportin’ Life (1985) and This is This! (1986) with Weather Report.
Chichí Peralta is a talented musician from the Dominican Republic He is a master percussionist and brilliant at fusing tropical rhythms. In his recordings, Peralta combines diverse rhythms and styles like jazz, merengue, guaguancó and even Dominican bachata and vallenato.
The tall Caribbean percussionist was born July 9 of 1966 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His birth name is Pedro René Peralta, but everybody calls him Chichí and he likes to emphasize that the last i should be accented because Chichi plainly written doesn’t sound very good in Spanish.
His musical career began at the age of 4, when he built his first instrument, a tambora. Peralta’s main professional work was as percussionist of the renowned group 4-40, led by Juan Luis Guerra. For eight years, Chichí Peralta performed in front of thousand of people throughout the world.
His first solo CD, Pa’ Otro La’o, was released in 1997. Peralta was in charge of most of the production work. Without a doubt Chichí Peralta has proven to be one of the musicians and producers with a better sense of musical globalization, and on his second solo recording, De Vuelta al Barrio, he was able to perfect sounds, maturing, finding himself, evolving and fusing ‘son’ with jazz, merengue with guaguancó, pop music with African rhythms, bachata with Brazilian rhythms, plena with salsa, vallenato, Arabic rhythms with those of Africa and India.
On De Vuelta al Barrio, Chichí Peralta didn’t waste any time nor effort, spending inexhaustible hours of arduous work doing research, compiling and composing. All this led to a recording with the London Symphony at Abbey Road Studios, in Paris with the choirs of Luz Africa Light, with the special participation of Henri Dikongue, in United States to mix and in his own studio, Sterling Audio, in the Dominican Republic. The main vocals are by Cesar Olarte and Rene Geraldino.
When asked the meaning of Vuelta al Barrio, Chichí indicated: “It is a re-encounter with our roots, making reference to our place, to the place that we left, to our barrio (neighborhood), and without wanting to seem too local, how would the barrio of the Dominican Republic be, or Colombia’s, or Puerto Rico’s, it is rather the barrio of the world. To me, there is only one barrio that is divided by several languages and music has the purpose of uniting it, of intertwining it. Who in their own history in the barrio has not fallen in love?. Who hasn’t seen disappointment? A humorous history or those beautiful memories? The return to the barrio for me is something very emotional, it is a nostalgia of mine, very personal. To me it has been one of the places where I’ve had the best time.”
Orestes Vilató is a remarkable percussionist. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest figures in the history of the timbales. He was born May 4, 1944 in Camagüey, Cuba, and moved to New York as a young boy in the 1950s. He gradually refined his natural skills as a musician with a special gift for rhythm.
While living in New York, Orestes was intimately involved with many significant groups, including Belisario López Orchestra, José Fajardo Orchestra, Ray Barretto Orchestra (8 years), Fania All Stars (founding member), Típica 73 (founding member), Los Kimbos (founder-director), Johnny Pacheco, and Cheo Feliciano.
He has recorded with Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, Wynton and Bradford Marsalis, Paco de Lucía, Lionel Hampton, Linda Ronstadt, Israel López, and Cachao. For 9 years (1980-89) Orestes worked with the Carlos Santana band as timbalero and percussionist, participating in several world tours and recording many albums.
Orestes released “Ritmo y Candela” with Patato and Changuito.
Orestes has recorded several movie sound tracks as well including: “Our Latin Thing” (Fania All-Stars), “The Bird Cage,” “Mambo Kings,””Carlito’s Way,””Steal Big, Steal Little,” and “Scalper.”
Ramán “Mongo” Santamaria was born in 1922 in Havana’s Jesus María barrio. Originally a violinist as a child, he switched to percussion and dropped out of school to become a professional musician.
He worked at the Tropicana Club in Havana and traveled to Mexico City with the Dámaso Pérez Prado orchestra. Before Fidel Castro came to power, he headed for New York in 1950.
In 1951, Mongo joined the Tito Puente band, with which he recorded two now classic Afro-Cuban percussion albums: Puente in Percussion (1955) and Top percussion (1957). In 1958, Mongo started performing with vibraphone player Cal Tjader, and timbalero Willie Bobo.
In 1960 he traveled to Cuba where he recorded two legendary albums: Mongo in Havana, with Carlos Embale and Merceditas Valdés, and Sabroso, with tres player Andres Echeverría, a.k.a. El Niño Rivera. In 1962, Mongo returned to the United States and began his natural progression towards jazz. In the early 1960s, Afro-Cuban music and San Francisco jazz jams took place at the Treat Street headquarters and studios of Fantasy Records. The jazz axis of this strange revolution was Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria revolving around the axis were Cal Tjader, Vince Guaraldi, Bola Sete, and others.
Early in 1963, Mongo Santamaria accomplished something that even then was a rarity in the world of American pop music. His band’s instrumental single reached the Top Ten on Billboard Magazine’s official best-seller chart. That song was “Watermelon Man,” a Herbie Hancock song. It had all started one night at a Cuban nightclub in New York City when Hancock sat in with Santamaria’s band. Hancock introduced his new tune to the band and they jammed on it, soon making it a standard piece of their repertoire. Producer Orrin Keepnews heard them play it one night and he rushed them into the recording studio. It was released as a single and it went straight to the No. 10 slot on the pop charts.
In the mid 1970s he returned to his Afro-Cuban music roots. Mongo recorded with the Fania All Stars, in 1977, and one year later he won a Grammy for Best Latin Recording with the album Amanecer.
Mongo’s superb band was joined by Dizzie Gillespie in 1980, to record Summertime. Gillespie was still a formidable trumpeter.
In his final years, Mongo Santamaria established his residence in Miami during the winter months. He died on February 1st, 2003, at the age of 86, victim of a heart failure.
Afro-Cuban Drums (SMC Pro-Arte, 1952)
Drums and Chants – Changó (Vaya, 1954)
Tambores y Cantos (1955)
Yambu: Mongo Santamaria y Sus Ritmos Afro Cubanos (1958)
!Arriba! La Pachanga (Fantasy, 1959) Afro Roots (Prestige, 1958)
Mongo (Fantasy, 1959) Our Man in Havana (Fantasy, 1959)
Mongo en la Habana, with Carlos Embale and Merceditas Valdés (1960) Sabroso! (1960)
Mighty Mongo (Fantasy, 1962)
Watermelon Man! (Battle, 1963)
Mongo at the Village Gate (Riverside, 1963) El Bravo! (Columbia, 1964)
La Bamba (Columbia, 1965) Pussy Cat (Columbia, 1965)
Hey! Let’s Party (Columbia, 1967)
Mongomania (Columbia, 1967)
Soul Bag (Columbia, 1968)
Workin’ On A Groovy Thing (Columbia, 1969)
Stone Soul (Columbia, 1969)
Mongo ’70 ( Atlantic, 1970)
Feelin’ Alright (Atlantic, 1970)
Mongo’s Way (Atlantic, 1971)
Up from the Roots (Atlantic, 1972)
Fuego (Vaya Records, 1972)
Afro-Indio (Vaya Records, 1975)
Skins (Milestone Records, 1976) Sofrito (Vaya Records, 1976)
Amanecer (Vaya Records, 1977)
A la Carte (Vaya Records, 1978)
Red Hot (Columbia, 1979)
You Better Believe It (1979)
Images (Vaya Records, 1980)
Soy Yo (Concord Jazz Picante, 1987) Mambo Mongo (Chesky, 1993)
Mongo Returns (Milestone, 1995)
Cándido de Guerra Camero, better known as Cándido Camero, was born in 1921 in a Havana barrio called El Cerro. Cándido was initially a multi-instrumentalist, showing dexterity on tres, guitar, and bass-these being key instruments in the popular son music of the day.
A switch to bongos and congas led to a six-year period with the CMQ Radio Orchestra and a residency at the famed Cabaret Tropicana. Heralded as the father of the technique of coordinated independence, Cándido had further accomplishments. For one, he pioneered the use of two congas and later three, whereas in past congueros were content with a single drum.
His playing became distinctive owing to a tendency to tune, when possible, to the melody of the song. Equipped with three congas and a bongo, he was able to complement horn, piano, and bass lines with harmonic contributions.
In 1954, pianist Billy Taylor wrote, “I have not heard anyone who even approaches the wonderful balance between jazz and Cuban elements that Cándido demonstrates.”
Cándido’s long list of recorded work includes sessions with Lena Horne, Billy Taylor, Buddy Rich, Art Blakey, Count Basie, Elvin Jones, George Shearing, Lionel Hampton, Stan Getz, Wes Montgomery, Woody Herman, Doc Severinson, Marian McPartland, Lalo Schifrin. Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Charlie Parker, and Antonio Carlos Jobim-these in addition to a number of dates as leader.
Camero received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Award in 2008.
Candido featuring Al Cohn (ABC-Paramount, 1956)
The Volcanic (ABC-Paramount, 1956) Latin Fire – The Big Beat of Candido (ABC-Paramount, 1959) In Indigo (ABC-Paramount, 1960)
Conga Soul (Roulette, 1962)
Candido’s Comparsa (ABC-Paramount, 1963)
Thousand Finger Man (Solid State, 1969)
Beautiful (Blue Note, 1970) Brujerias de Candido (Discos Fuentes, 1971)
Drum Fever (Polydor, 1973)
Dancin’ and Prancin’ (Salsoul, 1979)
Giovanni Hidalgo, Candido, Patato Valdes – The Conga Kings (Chesky, 2000)
Candido & Graciela – Inolvidable (Chesky, 2004)
Hands of Fire – Manos de fuego (Latin Jazz USA, 2008) The Master (Chesky, 2014)
Vitor Da Trindade is a percussionist, singer and guitarist, teacher of Brazilian dances. He played with the bands Bazar dos Baratos, Réquiem Napalm and Flor do Luar, Banda Kalimba, Cometa Gafi and Maria da Fé, with the dance groups Batacotô, Popular Theater Solano Trindade, Grupo Fuá.
Participated in the films O samba mandou me chamar, of Sérgio Zeigler, with Zezé Mota and Pascoal da Conceição, and Deusa Negra, of Ola Balogun, co-production Brazil and Nigeria, with Jece Valadão and Vera Gimenez. Composed for the bands Semente of Baobá, Duo Baobá, Maria da Fé and Moleque de Rua, and for several theatrical shows.
He gives percussion and Brazilian dance workshops in the Sesc divisions, and in the cultural centers Oswald de Andrade, Alfredo Volpi, Cândido Portinari, Butantã and Itaquera, in the state of São Paulo. Participated in Samba Syndrom 98, 99, 2000, 2001 and 2002, by invitation of the Landesmusik Akademie of Berlin, Germany, where he taught rhythm, songs and Afro-Brazilian dance. In 2001 released the CD Airá Otá with Carlos Caçapava.
Toured in Brazil and Europe with Revista do Samba in 2001 and 2002.
Airto Moreira’s work with Miles Davis during the Bitches Brew era and leadership in the jazz fusion genre (Weather Report, Return To Forever) places Airto in the forefront of percussionists worldwide. Airto’s influence is so powerful that in 1972 Downbeat Magazine added a “percussion” category to its readers’ and critics’ polls, and Airto was voted ‘best’ in that category many times.
Winner of the 1996 Drum Magazine Award for best percussion and Jazz Central Station’s 1996 Best Percussionist Award, Airto keeps on winning fans worldwide. His formidable expertise in Brazilian cultures and percussion instruments make Airto’s performances educational and dazzling.
Airto Guimorva Moreira was born the son of a spiritual healer in the South Brazilian town of Itaiopolis, Santa Catarina, in 1941. His love for music manifested itself at an early age. He was drumming before he could even walk, beating his fists on the floor whenever he heard music with a strong beat on the radio, which prompted his worried mother to take medical advice on his condition. By the time he was six – and winner of numerous music contests – Airto was given his first radio show on Saturday afternoons, which became a big hit in the South Brazilian town of Curitiba.
At 13, Airto sang in the band Jazz Estrela and at 16 he moved to Sao Paulo to further his career as a professional jazz drummer. By 1963, Airto had moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he became an integral part of two of the most successful bands at the time. At the age of 22, he founded the legendary Quarteto Novo (The New Quartet) with Hermeto Pascoal, Theofilo De Barros and Heraldo Do Monte. Mixing Brazilian protest songs with jazz, the band sometimes backed a fiery young vocalist called Flora Purim and – after some initial clashes – she and Airto discovered that they had more in common than music and formed what has proven to be an enduring alliance.
In 1967, at the instigation of his wife and in order to escape the then repressive military regime in Brazil, the couple moved to North America, initially to Los Angeles and then to New York, where Flora worked in a restaurant called Lost & Found. Between paid gigs, Airto would play there for his dinner. Although he could barely speak English, Airto quickly found himself fluent in the universal musical language shared by Reggie Workman, Cedar Walton and bassist Walter Booker (father of Krishna Booker aka The Factor). It was through Booker that Airto began to meet the greats…people like Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan and Joe Zawinul.
Zawinul recommended Airto to Miles Davis for a recording session in 1970 and he was soon invited to join the historic ‘electric’ band – perpetrators of the seminal ‘Bitches Brew’. This included such other jazz icons as Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, and later, John McLaughlin and Keith Jarrett. Airto remained with the Davis group for two years and appears on several classic Miles’ sets of the era, including Live At The Fillmore and Live/Evil. He shared drumming duties on the first Weather Report album with Alphonse Mouzon, then left to form Return To Forever with Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Joe Farrell in late 1971.
Having recorded two classic albums (Return To Forever and Light As A Feather) featuring the vocal pyrotechnics of Flora Purim, Chick Corea then pursued a more electric direction and Airto and Flora went their own way. For the past two decades, the couple have been practically inseparable, touring and recording together constantly.
1991 saw the release of the album Planet Drum, the culmination of a long-standing friendship with Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, whom he first met when the Miles Davis band opened for The Dead at the Fillmore West in 1970. Planet Drum topped Billboard’s World Music Chart for almost six months and won the first Grammy ever presented in the category of Best World Music Recording. In the same year Airto also won the Grammy for Best Live Jazz Recording for his collaboration with the late Dizzie Gillespie on the album United Nations Orchestra. The following year, Airto again joined forces with Mickey Hart to produce the groundbreaking album of healing music The Other Side Of This.
In 1993 Airto and Flora joined the brilliant guitarist Jose Neto and the keyboards and reeds wizard Gary Meek to form Fourth World, a highly danceable Latin jazz/rock band whose first album (BW030) marked Airto’s first involvement with B&W Music. Also released is Killer Bees (BW041) recorded with a freeform supergroup, The Gods of Jazz, featuring old friends Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Mark Egan, Hiram Bullock and Herbie Hancock as well as Flora and Gary Meek. Airto is also the prime mover of the Outernational Meltdown project. With Flora, Jose Neto and others, Airto was integral to Fourth World. The final statement of the group Fourth World is Last Journey to the Fourth World (BW2122).
Although Airto and Flora Purim traveled the world constantly for many years, Airto’s love for the music and the people of his native Brazil takes him back every year to visit old friends and relatives, and to pay respects to his spiritual guides and elders. Airto’s commitment to spiritualism started at an early age and for the past ten years he has been practicing Spiritual Healing Music: the opening of new channels in communication between artists and audience, or in Airto’s words, “creating a true feeling of friendship and enjoyment that is so needed in the world right now”. His lifelong interest in spirituality led him to record The Other Side of This, an exploration into the healing power of music.
Airto continues to explore what he calls ‘Creative Percussion’. In concert, he uses a large table on rolling legs that holds a variety of strange implements. While some of these are actual percussion instruments, other items might be included as a metal rack from a refrigerator, rubber hoses, wooden shoes, springs attached to tin cans, and shakers made from beer cans. He is always on the lookout for anything that can make a unique sound and it is this attitude that will always keep Airto creative and young at heart.
His vocals, unique percussion style and the work of percussionists from other drumming traditions has attracted an audience interested in world music. It would be no exaggeration to say that Airto has influenced the direction of modern jazz worldwide. He has won numerous awards from TV and music magazines and enjoys an unparalleled audience, as a solo artist and with Flora Purim and with his numerous collaborations with artists such as Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Paul Simon. Recently he even and played on MTV Unplugged with The Smashing Pumpkins as well as contributing to movie soundtracks including The Exorcist, The Last Tango in Paris, King of the Gypsies and Apocalypse Now.
Airto has collaborated on numerous projects for M.E.L.T.2000 including the Outernational Meltdown series, Byron Wallen’s albums, the famous Kon’ko Man album by Madala Kunene, Flora Purim’s albums and Jose Neto’s album Neto. With such a wealth of musical experience and creative production of other artists and indigenous music it is not surprising that that his peers look to him as a master and pioneer of percussion.
Airto has produced and been involved in many breakthrough cross-cultural musical projects. Tribal Ethno Dance (BW092) was an opportunity to produce his own interpretation to what were basic field recordings, using simple recording equipment in rural settings. ‘The Wire’ described it as “the real African deal, but with a twist”. Sources came from DZM projects, Khoisan bushmen, the split-tone singers of Ladyfrere and a group of traditional (Sangoma) healers led by Suzan Hendricks.
Revenge of the Killer Bees (ELM8012) is a project that revisits the seminal Airto Moreira and The Gods of Jazz album Killer Bees (BW041) and is a fresh interpretation under the direction of Tony Thorpe and features remixes of Airto’s collaborations with various jazz icons, Millenium style. The spectacular recording Code:Brasil, Target: Recife is the result of Airto’s recent project involving three local bands from Recife, in Northeastern Brazil, representing the various styles and rhythms of that region.
Natural Feelings (Buddah, 1970)
Seeds on the Ground (Buddah, 1971)
Free (CTI, 1972) Fingers (CTI, 1973)
Virgin Land (CTI, 1974)
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 (1984)
Three-way Mirror (1985)
Samba De Flora (Montuno, 1988)
Struck by Lightning (Venture, 1989)
Killer Bees (B&W Music, 1989) The Other Side of This (Rykodisc, 1992)
Revenge of the Killer Bees, remix of Killer Bees (Electric Melt, 1993)
Homeless (MELT 2000, 1999)
Life After That (2003)
Aluê (Selo Sesc, 2017)
Ariane De Bievre plays flutes and percussion. She studied classical flute and also mastered the bansuri (Indian flute). She is also a skilled percussionist. She plays bodhran, bendir, daf and other instruments.
Ariane has performed with Julos Beaucame, Satya, Karo-Trio-Flute, Ten Strings, Univers Zero and Galician Celtic band Camaxe.