Airto Moreira

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Airto Moreira
Moreira in concert in 2007
Moreira in concert in 2007
Background information
Birth nameAirto Guimorvan Moreira
Born (1941-08-05) August 5, 1941 (age 82)
Itaiópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
GenresJazz, jazz fusion, Brazilian jazz, pop, baião
Occupation(s)Musician, bandleader, composer
Instrument(s)Drums, percussion
Years active1954–present
LabelsOne Way, CTI, Arista, Warner Music Japan

Airto Guimorvan Moreira (born August 5, 1941)[1] is a Brazilian jazz drummer and percussionist.[2] He is married to jazz singer Flora Purim, and their daughter Diana Moreira is also a singer.[2] Coming to prominence in the late 1960s as a member of the Brazilian ensemble Quarteto Novo, he moved to the United States and worked in jazz fusion with Miles Davis, Return to Forever and Santana.


Airto Moreira at Paul Masson Harvest Jazz Festival, Saratoga CA 10/3/81

Airto Moreira was born in Itaiópolis, Brazil,[1] 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, noticed first as a member of the samba jazz pioneers Sambalanço Trio and for his landmark recording with Hermeto Pascoal in Quarteto Novo in 1967.[2] Shortly after, he followed his wife Flora Purim to the United States.

After moving to the US, Moreira studied with Moacir Santos in Los Angeles.[3] He then moved to New York where he began playing regularly with jazz musicians, including the bassist Walter Booker. Through Booker, Moreira began playing with Joe Zawinul, who in turn introduced him to Miles Davis.[1] At this time Davis was experimenting with electronic instruments and rock and funk rhythms, a form which would soon come to be called jazz fusion.[1] Moreira was to participate in several of the most important projects of this emerging musical form.[1] He stayed with Davis for about two years.[4]

Shortly after leaving Davis, Moreira joined other Davis alumni Zawinul, Wayne Shorter and Miroslav Vitous in their group Weather Report, playing percussion on their first album (1971).[1] He left Weather Report (replaced by Dom Um Romão and Muruga Booker for their Sweetnighter album) to join fellow Davis alumnus Chick Corea's new band Return to Forever.[1] He played drums on Return to Forever's first two albums: Return to Forever and Light as a Feather in 1972.

Moreira 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, Däfos, Supralingua, and Planet Drum, which won a World Music Grammy in 1991.[2] He can be heard playing congas on Eumir Deodato's 1970s space-funk hit "Also sprach Zarathustra" on the album Prelude.

Moreira has played with many of the greatest names in jazz including Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Paul Desmond, Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett, Al Di Meola, Zakir Hussain, George Duke and Mickey Hart.[2]

In addition to jazz concerts and recordings, he has composed and contributed music to film and television, played at the re-opening of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt[5] (along with fellow professor of ethnomusicology Halim El-Dabh[6]), and taught at UCLA and the California Brazil Camp.

In 1996, Moreira and his wife Flora Purim collaborated with P.M. Dawn on the song "Non-Fiction Burning" for the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Rio, produced by the Red Hot Organization.

In 2022 it was announced via the Flora Purim & Airto Moreira Facebook page that Airto was suffering severe health problems and that wife Flora was now his full-time caregiver. A GoFundMe page was set up by their daughter Niura with the aim of raising funds to move Airto to a more suitable care facility. As of July 2023, almost $45,000 has been raised.


  • Moreira was voted the number one percussionist in "Down Beat Magazine's Critics Poll" for the years 1975 through 1982 and most recently in 1993.[7]
  • In September 2002, Brazil's President Fernando Henrique Cardoso added Moreira and Purim to the "Order of Rio Branco", one of Brazil's highest honors.


As leader[edit]

  • Natural Feelings (Buddah, 1970)
  • Seeds On the Ground (Buddah, 1971)
  • Free (CTI, 1972)
  • Fingers (CTI, 1973)
  • Virgin Land (Salvation, 1974)
  • In Concert with Eumir Deodato (CTI, 1974)
  • Identity (Arista, 1975)
  • Promises of the Sun (Arista, 1976)
  • I'm Fine, How Are You? (Warner Bros., 1977)
  • Touching You...Touching Me (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • Däfos with Mickey Hart (Reference, 1983)
  • Misa Espiritual (Harmonia Mundi, 1983)
  • Latino/Aqui Se Puede (Sobocode, 1984)
  • Three-Way Mirror (Reference, 1985)
  • Humble People with Flora Purim (Concord Jazz, 1985)
  • The Magicians with Flora Purim (Crossover, 1986)
  • The Colours of Life with Flora Purim (In+Out, 1988)
  • Samba de Flora (Montuno, 1989)
  • The Sun Is Out with Flora Purim (Crossover, 1987)
  • Struck by Lightning (Venture, 1989)
  • The Other Side of This (Rykodisc, 1992)
  • Killer Bees (B&W Music, 1993)
  • Homeless (M.E.L.T., 2000)
  • Revenge of the Killer Bees (M.E.L.T., 2000)
  • Life After That (Narada, 2003)
  • The Boston Three Party with Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez (Stretch, 2007)
  • Aluê (Selo, 2017)
  • Eu canto assim (NoRPM, 2021)

With Sambalanço Trio

With Fourth World

  • Recorded Live At Ronnie Scott's Club (Ronnie Scotts Jazz House 1992)
  • Fourth World (B and W Music 1993)
  • Encounters of the Fourth World (B and W Music 1995)
  • Live in South Africa 1993 ( 1996)
  • Last Journey (M.E.L.T. 2000)
  • Return Journey (Electro M.E.L.T. 2000)

As sideman[edit]

With Cannonball Adderley

With Gato Barbieri

With Stanley Clarke

  • Stanley Clarke (Nemperor, 1974)
  • I Wanna Play for You (Nemperor, 1979)
  • Shieldstone (Bellaphon, 1987)

With Chick Corea

With Miles Davis

With Paul Desmond

With George Duke

With David Friesen

  • Amber Skies (Palo Alto, 1984)
  • Other Times Other Places (Global Pacific, 1989)
  • Departure (Global Pacific, 1990)
  • Ancient Kings (Shamrock, 1994)

With Stan Getz

With Astrud Gilberto

With Johnny Hammond

With Mickey Hart

With Freddie Hubbard

With Bob James

  • H (Tappan Zee, 1980)
  • Snowbird (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1980)
  • Sign of the Times (Tappan Zee/Columbia, 1981)

With Antonio Carlos Jobim

With Hubert Laws

With Duke Pearson

With Flora Purim

  • Butterfly Dreams (Milestone, 1973)
  • Stories to Tell (Milestone, 1974)
  • 500 Miles High (Milestone, 1976)
  • Open Your Eyes You Can Fly (Milestone, 1976)
  • Encounter (Milestone, 1977)
  • Nothing Will Be As It Was...Tomorrow (Warner Bros., 1977)
  • That's What She Said (Milestone, 1978)
  • Everyday Everynight (Warner Bros., 1978)
  • Carry On (Warner Bros., 1979)
  • The Midnight Sun (Venture, 1988)
  • Speed of Light (B&W Music, 1995)
  • Welcome Back '95 (B&W Music, 1995)
  • Perpetual Emotion (Narada, 2001)
  • If You Will (Strut, 2022)

With Wayne Shorter

With Paul Simon

With Stanley Turrentine

With Grover Washington Jr.

With others


  • 2006: Airto & Flora Purim: The Latin Jazz All-Stars[8]

See also[edit]


  • Mei, Giancarlo (2017). Spiriti Liberi. L'Avventura Brasiliana Di Flora Purim & Airto Moreira (official biography) (in Italian). Rome, Italy: Arcana Jazz. ISBN 978-8862319546.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1749. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e Yanow, Scott. "Airto Moreira". AllMusic. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  3. ^ Feather, Leonard (1987). The encyclopedia of jazz in the seventies. New York: Da Capo Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-306-80290-4.
  4. ^ "M.E.L.T. 2000 artist's bio". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  5. ^ "Europe Jazz Network Bio". September 30, 2003. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  6. ^ Seachrist, Denise A. (2003). The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh. Kent, Ohio, United States: Kent State University Press 296 pp ISBN 0-87338-752-X
  7. ^ "Archives: Down Beat Critics Poll". Down Beat. Archived from the original on January 22, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2011. (see individual years linked from that page)
  8. ^ "Airto & Flora Purim: The Latin Jazz All-Stars". Archived from the original on February 23, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2011.

External links[edit]