Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos was a steady figure in the world of experimental/improvised/"ethnic" jazz for decades. His work with Codona, Don Cherry, Egberto Gismonti, Milton Nascimento and others show a great contribution, especially in bringing the berimbau into a progressive jazz context.
Born in Recife, he came from a musical family and participated in samba bands as a teenager and started playing in professional groups in his early 20s. Early appearances included recordings and performances with Os Mutantes, Gato Barbieri, Nascimento and Herb Alpert.
In the mid-'70s, he made a great trio album with Perry Robinson and Badal Roy (Kundalini) and started working with Gismonti and with Cherry and Colin Wolcott in Codona, who released three incredible classics for the ECM label. The '80s brought fruitful collaborations with Jan Garbarek, Jon Hassell/Brian Eno, Pat Metheny and a tour with a break-dance troup.
Through the years he has appeared with a wide variety of artists and styles: Cyro Baptista, Arto Lindsay, BB King, Talking Heads, Paul Simon, Chaka Khan, Sergio Mendes, Jim Pepper, John Zorn, Caetano Veloso, Jean-Luc Ponty, Debbie Harry and many, many more. Samba schools, rock bands, tropicalistas, symphonies, avant-jazz, new age, film music, pop...he has brought the berimbau into many contexts. Sometimes he would play his own body as percussion and played bongos, maracas, congas, drum kit, electronic drum machines, Indian percussion, and various other Brazilian percussion instruments. He was also an activist, working with disadvantaged children worldwide.