Airto: Brazilian percussionist who commanded jazz fusion

19th September 2016

Title: Free

Label: Speakers Corner

A big name percussionist during the 70s (he was quite a collector too: he gathered 120 percussive instruments before he moved to the USA from his home in Brazil, in 1968), who broke ground in the jazz field by making percussion (and I also mean instruments such as the tambourine, when I refer to that) a very important part of the jazz idiom and who still retains his reputation today. Airto Moreira (although many refer to him simply by his first name, as you will see on the sleeve of this LP) began his musical life as a guitarist with a smattering of piano thrown in.


Airto hooked up with Miles Davis from 1969-1970, appearing on a range of recordings including Live Evil, became an original member of Weather Report and, later, Chick Corea’s Return To Forever.


This debut leader album was initially released on CTi in 1972 and saw Airto hold enough clout to form his own group. It’s his most famous album release and featured Chick Corea on keys, Hubert Laws on flute, Joe Farrell on reeds and, just to add to the celebrity feel of the album, Keith Jarrett on piano and George Benson on guitar. Airto’s wife, Flora Purim, appears on Free while Return to Forever makes an early appearance here.


In mastering terms, with percussion being such an important part of the Airto presentation, it was important that there was plenty of air and space to illuminate this area without spotlighting too much, producing harsh edges. I’m happy to report that this has been successfully achieved. There is plenty of air within the soundstage that gives each instrument space to fully present itself. In fact, the mastering is good enough to give you a good idea of relative position in the studio. The brass, for example, is obviously emerging from the rear of the 3D soundstage in Return to Forever, for example, behind the more delicate percussion.


Mixing music from is homeland with jazz, the ultimate fusion is full of energy and craft.