is one of the cluster of endlessly inventive Brazilian percussionists who were changing the direction and sounds of Brazilian jazz in the post-bossa nova 1970s.
is an especially inventive virtuoso of the berimbau, the weird yet expressive instrument shaped like an archer's bow, and he is also adept at the odd-numbered meters (5/4, 7/4) that were used frequently in the north but not the south of Brazil.
As the son of a guitarist, Vasconcelos
got his start in his father's band at age 12 playing bongos and maracas. Taking on a drum kit as part of his arsenal, he moved to Rio de Janeiro in the mid-'60s and caught on with the young Milton Nascimento
, picking up several other Brazilian percussion instruments in the process. Gato Barbieri
heard him and snatched him up for tours in Argentina, Europe, and a U.S. jaunt in 1971; Vasconcelos
can be heard on a number of Barbieri
's Flying Dutchman albums. Following the tour, he lived in Paris for two years, occasionally gigging with Don Cherry
in Sweden. In 1976, he made a remarkable duo album with Brazilian guitarist/wood flute player Egberto Gismonti
, Dança Das Cabeças
, the first of several dates as a leader or sideman on the ECM label. He reunited with Cherry
in 1978 and, with Collin Walcott
, formed Codona
, a trio that played a fusion of music from four continents until Walcott
's death in 1984.
In the meantime, Vasconcelos
joined the Pat Metheny Group
from 1980 to 1983 as a "special guest," one who had the effect of rerouting Metheny
's music in the general direction of Brazil. Since then, Vasconcelos
has played on and off with Cherry
, toured and recorded with Jan Garbarek
, played on many recording sessions, and, in 1995, formed an unusual duo with the Scottish classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie
at the Bath International Music Festival.