Catch Richard Peixoto Group’s Brand of Brazilian Jazz

The Rio de Janeiro-reared guitarist and composer introduces a body of new material at the California Jazz Conservatory.


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Richard Peixoto introduces new music.

Photo courtesy Richard Peixoto

Rio de Janeiro-reared guitarist Richard Peixoto has spent most of his adult life in the Bay Area, but the Oakland musician has never stopped exploring the verdant music of Brazil. For jazz fans who’ve been around for a minute, Peixoto is inextricably linked to vocalist Claudia Villela, with whom he created the critically hailed 2003 masterpiece Inverse/Universe (Adventure Music).

But their partnership ended not long after that, and he’s been stretching out in various directions ever since. He’s a founding member of the Berkeley Choro Ensemble, which released The View From Here . . . an impressive 2018 debut album. As a composer, Peixoto draws on jazz, European classical music, and various Brazilian currents, and he’s introducing a body of new material Saturday, Feb. 16, at the California Jazz Conservatory’s Rendon Hall.

Celebrating the release of his new CD Scary Beautiful, Peixoto’s diverse cast of well-traveled players includes Supertramp bassist Cliff Hugo, pianist Ken Cook, drummer Kendrick Freeman, and flutist Bob Afifi. Part of what makes Peixoto such an interesting bandleader is that he’s integrated influences from an array of creative heavyweights.

A product of the Berklee College of Music, he arrived in Boston in the mid-1970s along with a wave of future guitar stars such as Bill Frisell and Mike Stern. The Bay Area’s Brazilian music scene was already thriving when he moved here in the early 1980s, but he provided another jolt of energy and earned widespread respect with his popular band Terra Sul. He’s also toured widely with Brazilian jazz legends Flora Purim and Airto and recorded the 1989 Contemporary album Tomorrow’s Rainbow with Marcos Silva and alto saxophonist/flutist Bud Shank, who started exploring Brazilian music years before Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd helped turn bossa nova into an international sensation. For the new music he’s got plenty of beauty to draw on. The scary part remains to be seen.

Richard Peixoto Group, 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 16, Rendon Hall, Fiddler Annex, 2040 Addison St., Berkeley, $20, 510-845-5373, www.CJC.edu.

This report was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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