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Claudio Celso is a Brazilian guitarist, composer and arranger. His work includes jazz, fusion, bossa nova and Brazilian popular music.

Because he developed some unique and original styles of composing and playing bossa nova and Brazilian popular music, his contribution to the Brazilian instrumental music heritage is well documented in both Dicionário Cravo Albin da Música Popular Brasileira (Cravo Albin Dictionary of Brazilian Pop Music) and Músicos do Brasil: Uma Enciclopédia Instrumental (Brazilian Musicians: An Instrumental Encyclopedia).

While living in South Florida in 2000, he was considered by local "New Times" newspaper one of the finest contemporary jazz guitarists, and in 2006, he was listed in the world´s top 100 guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine in Brazil.

 

Early years

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Claudio started playing the guitar at the age of four. He studied classical guitar and then learned bossa nova and jazz with guitarist/composer Paulinho Nogueira and also with his father Nilson M. Celso - one of the first electric guitarists in Brazil.

At 17, Claudio joined Brazilian instrumental ensemble Zimbo Trio, touring with them throughout Brazil for over two years. The trio's discography spans more than 40 albums, often in combination with other celebrated Brazilian performers. He also accompanied major popular artists with Tupi Television Orchestra and had the chance to play with musicians such as multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal while in his hometown São Paulo.


Career
In 1978 he moved to New York City and was immediately and enthusiastically welcomed by jazz icons Chet Baker, Dexter Gordon, Billy Hart, Charlie Rouse and Walter Booker. Later on, he met Jaco Pastorius, Kenny Kirkland, Randy Brecker, Roberta Flack, Larry Willis, Cecil McBee, Alex Blake, Steve Thorton, Payton Crossley, Shunzo Ono, Terumasa Hino, Lester Chambers, Calvin Hill, Buddy Williams, Paquito d'Rivera, Clifford Adams, Laudir de Oliveira, Dom Um Romão and recorded for producers Creed Taylor, Teo Macero and Roy Cicala.

Also in New York, he learned composition and arranging with Don Sebesky.

He played at a number of jazz festivals around the world, including the Newport Jazz Festival, the Cool Jazz Festival, the Earth Day Concert in New York City, the Hollywood Jazz Festival in Florida, the Monterey Jazz Festival in California, and the Joinville Jazz Festival in Brazil.

In addition to his career as a performer, Claudio does guitar clinics and writes articles for Guitar Player Magazine. He has taught extensively in his own country and internationally, published a Jazz Guitar instructional video, and was the mentor of a number of Brazilian guitar stars. Some of his past Jazz clinics includes the City of Miami Public Libraries, the GIT Institute and the Joinville Jazz Festival in Brazil.

He frequently gives newspaper, magazine, radio and TV interviews. In 2007, his appearance at the most popular TV Talk Show in Brazil (Programa do Jô) averaged 4,6 million viewers.

In 2010, he created “The Alpha Solaris Project”, a blend of musical elements ranging from jazz to Brazilian and World music, with keyboardist, record producer and arranger Eumir Deodato (theme for “2001 – A Space Odissey”) as his partner on stage. Claudio says... "When I decided to move back to the US after being away in Brazil for seven years I thought... why not call my good old friends from New York, Los Angeles and Florida whom I miss so much, and my all-time idol Eumir Deodato, and put together a killer band?" And, like magic, his dream came true instantly! The Alpha Solaris Project was born... and the repertoire is part of Celso´s CDs and Deodato´s greatest hits. The band counts with drummer Gerry Brown, who has been playing and recording with Stanley Clarke, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross, Frank Colon, known as one of the top three percussionists in the world and who has played with Manhattan Transfer and Brazilian superstar Milton Nascimento, bassist Pepe Aparicio, former musical director for legendary conga player Mongo Santamaria, pianist Felix Gomez, who has accompanied and recorded with Arturo Sandoval for many years, and trumpeter Stuart King, a must in the performances of Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaria, Ira Sullivan, Jaco Pastorius, Gloria Estefan and KC and the Sunshine Band.

In 2013, under the "Rouanet Law", which allows tax payers (both persons and corporations) to make donations or sponsorships to cultural projects and get tax exemption, he received a grant from the Brazilian Ministry of Culture for a project which includes concerts and worskshops throughout Brazil, and the recording of two new CDs – Noroeste and Terral (live).

Presently, Claudio is rehearsing a brand-new composition - Suite “Axis Mundi” - with Municipal Symphony Orchestra of Santos – a concerto designed for electric guitar and orchestra. This project unites both classical and contemporary music in an effort to revitalize passion and interest for symphonic instruments in young audiences all around the world.