Airto Moreira made an immediate impact on the American jazz scene by being the first Brazilian percussionist to be playing a lot of different instruments at the same time. He brought them all together with an avant-garde, progressive sensibility, and revolutionized the role of percussion, both in jazz and popular music. After him it was a wave, and he was at the forefront with his work with Miles, Weather Report, and Return to Forever.
Airto Moreira was born in 1941 in the small village of Itaiopolis - south Brasil, and was raised in Curitiba. Even before he could walk he would start shaking and banging on the floor every time the radio played a hot song. By the time he was six years old he had won many music contests by singing and playing percussion. The city gave him his own radio program every Saturday afternoon. At thirteen he 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.
In 1965 he met the singer Flora Purim in Rio de Janeiro. Flora moved to the USA in 1967 and Airto followed her shortly after. When in New York Airto began playing with musicians such as Reggie Workman, JJ Johnson, Cedar Walton and bassist Walter Booker. It was through Booker that Airto began playing with the greats - Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Paul Desmond and Joe Zawinul who recommended Airto to Miles Davis for a recording session in 1970 for the “Bitches Brew” sessions. He remained with Miles for two years, and appears on such releases as “Live/Evil,” “Live at the Fillmore,” “On the Corner,” “The Isle of Wight”, “Bitches Brew” and later releases including the “Fillmore Sessions”.