Accomplished musician Cyro Baptista has played the complete range of percussion instruments from his native Brazil, as well as many other world music instruments. Based out of New York, he showed up on a Paquito d'Rivera release, on John Zorn's film works in the mid-'80s, and he continued to appear on the occasional Zorn release throughout the '90s. Other artists Baptista worked with through both decades demonstrate his versatility: Laurie Anderson and Herbie Mann. He has backed Brazilian artists Caetano Veloso, Tom Ze, and Marisa Monte (on her 1991 N.Y.C. who's-who-studded Mais), and appears on several '90s releases from jazz singers Cassandra Wilson and Holly Cole. Baptista's excellent and varied résumé speaks of a strength of percussion that works in international, pop, and jazz musics. Zorn, bassist Greg Cohen, Marc Ribot, and Nana Vasconcelos perform on his first album as leader, Vira Loucos. Released by Zorn's Avant label in 1997, the recording captures his wild interpretations of the music of Brazilian classical composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. Sticking with Zorn, he joined the composer's Dreamers ensemble and as a solo artist moved to the Tzadik label; Baptista released Beat the Donkey and its mirror image Love the Donkey in 2002 and 2005, respectively. Banquet of the Spirits followed in 2008. Infinito appeared in 2009. That year, Baptista played on no less than eight albums, including titles by Sting, Tim Sparks, Luciana Souza and Duck Baker. He also won a USA Fellowship award from Chicago's United States Artists organization. Baptista released his Solos: The Jazz Sessions DVD in 2010, played on half a dozen Zorn dates, as well as recordings by Jacky Terrasson, Jamie Saft, and Janis Ian. Banquet of the Spirits delivered their own volume to Zorn's second Masada composition project with Caym: Book of Angels, Vol. 17 in 2011 and played on records with Dreamers, Zorn, and Todd Clouser. Over the next four years, Baptista toured with Banquet of the Spirits and Beat the Donkey, and continued his prolific work as a sideman -- mostly with Zorn. In 2016, he issued BlueFly, featuring his quartet and a large cast of collaborators. He was also co-headliner with New Zion Trio on Sunshine Seas for RareNoise. ~ Joslyn Layne
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