Naná Vasconcelos

Music icon
A jazz icon since the late 1960s, Naná Vasconcelos contributed Latin percussion to some of the world’s most cerebral, soulful music.

Why you should listen

Growing up absorbing a range of music, from classical Brazilian Villa-Lobos to Jimi Hendrix,  Naná Vasconcelos became an innovative percussionist who could pick up a beat on almost any instrument. He came to specialize in the berimbau, the single-stringed Brazillian percussion instrument, and in the polyrhythms typical of his home in northern Brazil.
Starting his career with a young Milton Nascimiento, he became a frequent collaborator with what came to be called (deeply over-simply, of course) jazz intellectuals -- bandleaders like Don Cherry and Pat Metheny and crossover artists like saxophonist and composer Jan Garbarek who play with silence, improv and a broad palette of sound. He released a slew of his own records as a bandleader, and throughout his life he sought fresh sounds with new collaborators. For a taste, try his 2009 collaboration with Joyce and Mauricio Maestro, Visions of Dawn: The Paris 1976 Project.

What others say

“Since 1975 Nana has recorded with everyone from B.B. King to Jean-Luc Ponty to the Talking Heads, but has never allowed himself to become a studio musician. His contributions to each project are special and go beyond the usual role allotted a percussionist.” — Saudades Tourneen,

Naná Vasconcelos’ TED talk

More news and ideas from Naná Vasconcelos

Live from TEDGlobal

Through the looking glass: A recap of session 8 of TEDGlobal 2014

October 9, 2014

In this session, “Lenses,” speakers look through cameras and new lenses — at subjects from the very, very big to the very, very small to the very, very far away. Wendy Freedman talks about a remote location in the Andes, far from the lights of civilization, where the stars can be seen clearly with the naked eye. In that location, […]

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Live from TEDGlobal

Lenses: A sneak peek of session 8 at TEDGlobal 2014

October 9, 2014

Lenses allow us to look at far away worlds and to examine our own more closely. In this session hidden social and scientific fabrics will be amplified by several orders of magnitude, bringing us a richer and more vibrant experience than the naked eye can see on its own. The speakers who’ll appear in this […]

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