Percussionist Naná Vasconcelos dies

Nana Vasconcelos

One of Brazil’s greatest music exponents, percussionist Naná Vasconcelos has died aged 71.

One of Brazil’s greatest music exponents, percussionist Naná Vasconcelos has died aged 71 at a private hospital in Sao Paulo. He was diagnosed with lung cancer seven months ago.

Vasconcelos was born in Recifé in the State of Pernambuco, where the Governor has decreed three days of mourning as politicians, artists and friends lament his death. He released over 25 albums as a leader since 1973 as well as acclaimed work with Pat Metheny, Don Cherry, Egberto Gismonti, and Gato Barbieri. He is credited for inspiring generations of musicians.

Pat Metheny’s Facebook page states, “It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of percussion great Nana Vasconcelos. Nana played a significant role in Pat’s music over the course of a few important records and a lot of touring in the early 1980’s. Says Pat “In addition to being one of the best percussionists in this music, Nana was also an amazing, wonderful person. Everywhere he went (berimbau always nestled on his shoulder) he made friends and brought an infectious joy to the people around him. His laugh was contagious and his ability to bring happiness to any situation spilled over to the bandstand. And what an incredible musician. As I moved towards using more and more electricity in the music, I really felt it was important to balance that with natural sound and Nana was able to offer that in a perfect way; including the way he used his voice. We will all really miss Nana!”

London audiences will remember his appearances with great fondness especially his ability to conjure the sounds of nature, in particular the Amazon rain forests, with audience participation. He was a master percussionist known especially for his ability to play the unique Brazilian instrument the Berimbau.

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