Airto at USF

By Barbara Melendez


TAMPA, Fla. (March 23, 2010) – His name went viral long before there was an Internet. Disc jockeys and fans spread the news of his arrival on the music scene by word of mouth. His playing caused listeners to turn over album covers to find out who was making those amazing sounds on jazz albums by Chick Corea, Miles Davis, Weather Report and so many others.


To this day, his first name is all that is needed to identify him to his fans. Airto Moreira, drummer and percussionist extraordinaire makes a rare appearance at the University of South Florida March 24 and 25 at free events that are open to the public, plus a concert at very affordable prices.


“For USF to have such a legendary performer, artist and historic figure on campus is outstanding,” said USF Jazz Studies Professor Jack Wilkins. “For our students to be exposed to the teachings, history and performances of Airto Moriera is a rare and important educational opportunity which they will remember for a lifetime.”


Jazz lovers, fans and anyone who wants a career as a drummer or percussionist will have ample opportunity to make the most of his visit. Airto will offer an Introduction to Hand Drumming at 11 a.m. in Theatre 2 on Wednesday and later in the day at 3 p.m. a session on Jazz and Brazilian Percussion. On Thursday, at noon he will deliver a lecture: Reflections on a Musical Past in FAH 101. Thursday evening at 8, he will appear in concert in Theatre 2. Advance tickets are $8 for students and seniors, $12 for adults.  Tickets purchased the day of the event will cost $10 for students and seniors and $15 for adults.


Wilkins explains Airto’s place in the jazz history.


"Airto Moriera is a legendary performer in the Jazz and Brazilian music world,” he said. “He has performed with many of the most important and well-known performers in Jazz, and is considered to be one of with the most important Brazilian jazz musicians in history. 


“Airto brought his Brazilian percussion training and skills to American jazz in the 1960's, especially the jazz fusion movement of the late 1960's and 1970's. Airto was an important part of such ground breaking recordings as Mile Davis' "Bitches Brew," Chick Corea's "Light as  Feather," and the first Weather Report recordings, each considered to be one of the most important jazz recordings of the 20th century. Airto was ‘the’ percussionist of choice during this period, because of his energy, versatility and impeccable musicianship. His recordings and concert appearances with his own group, with singer Flora Purim, are also considered to be very important, contributing to the history of jazz and Brazilian music.”


Airto and his wife, the singer Flora Purim were named to the “Order of Rio Branco,” one of Brazil’s highest honors, in 2002. His scholarly activities have included teaching at UCLA and these days he can be found providing workshops and clinics in addition to spending time in the recording studio and on the road performing throughout Europe, South America, Asia and the United States.


These events are made possible by the Talk of the Arts Visiting Artist and Scholar Spring 2010 Lecture Series presented by the USF College of The Arts School of Music. For more information, visit:



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.