Airto Moreira - Homeless

2006-03-29 20:38

It's safe to say that Airto Moreira is a legend in music circles. His genius - a diffuse, organic and utterly irresistible style of percussion - has led him to work with some of the greatest musicians and performers of the 20th century including the likes of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Paul Simon, Carlos Santana and Tina Turner. During his 50-year music career, this eclectic Brazilian has mastered over 120 different percussion instruments, and has influenced percussionists in genres as diverse as hard rock and deep house.

With all that said, you'd imagine that Homeless would have to be excellent. The man is widely accepted as a genius, after all. What's more he's accepted by people who know a lot more about music than this lowly music critic. And yet "Homeless" really isn't an excellent album - it's not even very good.

The problem isn't Airto's playing (which is, predictably, amazing) - it is his choice of compositions. They are all brilliant showcases of his own percussion, as well as the talents of his hordes of eclectic collaborators (Flora Purim, Meia Noite, Amen Santos and many others). And yet they remain just that - showcases.

Immersed in his avant-garde world of clicks, whirrs, thumps and rustles, Airto cuts himself off from the casual listener. His pieces are experiments, trifles, the products of messing around with the music he loves and knows so well. Even the uninitiated can appreciate his talents, but only true fans and starry-eyed young percussionists will be able to really engage with them.

Of course Airto isn't interested in trying to reach the pop market anymore (if he ever was). He is doing what he loves - making interesting and unusual rhythms. Whether you buy the album or not probably won't bother him much. For my money though, his previous album, Killer Bees, is a whole lot more focussed and a much more enjoyable.

- Alistair Fairweather


"...cuts emphasize atmosphere over melody, meaning you won't be whistling these songs on your morning commute. But the hard-edged polyrhythms and mile-deep percussive textures will definitely rev your engine."
- Bob Tarte,

"... what is most impressive - a trademark of Moreira - is the collective spontaneity that prevails throughout."
- John Davis, LatinJazzClub Magazine

Unless you're a percussionist fan of his work, Airto's avant guard Homeless will probably seem fairly self indulgent.

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