Nancy Perry

Scott Feiner & Pandeiro Jazz featuring Mike Moreno

Mike Moreno (guitar)
Vitor Gonçalves (keyboards)

Scott Feiner's musical story is not a common one. Not only is he an American pandeiro player, but he has also introduced this Brazilian hand drum to the world of jazz in a highly personal way.

A native of New York City, Feiner received a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies/Guitar at the Hartt School of Music, where he learned about jazz history from the legendary saxophonist Jackie McLean. In 1990 he returned to New York City and immersed himself in the jazz scene, gaining a reputation for his sense of swing and lyrical phrasing. During the early '90s Feiner led bands two nights a week at Augie's (now Smoke), the world-renown club in Manhattan known as a meeting place for New York City's best young jazz musicians. He made two recordings as a leader during that period, one of them featuring organist Larry Goldings.

In 1999, during his first trip to Brazil, Feiner discovered the pandeiro and it quickly pulled him back into playing music. He moved to Rio de Janeiro in 2001 to be closer to the instrument and Brazilian music in general. As he evolved as a player, he began to play with some of Rio's finest musicians in the samba and choro scene. Just a few years after his arrival in Rio, Feiner had become a respected pandeirista.

It is Feiner's innovative project "Pandeiro Jazz" however, that has truly set him apart. The idea was born organically during an informal performance back in New York City and was first documented on the CD Pandeiro Jazz, released in 2006 by the Delira Música label. It was recorded in New York City with guitarist Freddie Bryant, saxophonist Joel Frahm, and bassist Joe Martin. Besides being bandleaders in their own right, all three of these musicians are some of the most respected and in-demand sidemen on the global jazz scene. This CD is possibly the first jazz recording ever made with a pandeiro as the exclusive percussive instrument, in place of a drumset. The world-renowned pianist Brad Mehldau described Pandeiro Jazz as "a unique sonic world … full of subtley and surprise".

After the success of Pandeiro Jazz, Feiner released Dois Mundos in 2008 on the highly respected Brazilian label Biscoito Fino. It was recorded in Rio de Janeiro with trumpeter Jessé Sadoc, saxophonist Marcelo Martins, pianist David Feldman, and bassist Alberto Continentino. It showcased more of Feiner's talents as a composer; with more than half the tracks being original compositions. Dois Mundos was nominated for a 2009 Latin Grammy Award and was called "one of the best CDs of the year" by Playboy Magazine in Brazil.

Feiner's third CD, Accents was released in 2010 on the Zoho Music label. It reunited the same great group of NYC-based musicians as his first CD, Pandeiro Jazz, and documented the growth of the project. In a review of Accents, JazzTimes magazine wrote, "Feiner couldn't have made better picks, as the quartet is fully in sync from the get-go".

A View From Below, Feiner's fourth recording (to be released worldwide in March, 2014), highlights his compositional skills, as he penned all nine tracks on the album. It features an exciting new trio format with keyboardist Rafael Vernet and guitarist Guilherme Monteiro. Upon early release in Brazil in October, 2013 the respected Brazilian music critic Carlos Calado wrote in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, "The creative freedom this trio displays while shifting between jazz and Brazilian music is amazing."

Scott Feiner & Pandeiro Jazz has performed at festivals and clubs in the United States, Brazil and Europe in a variety of formats from duo to quintet. Besides the musicians from his regular working groups, Feiner has also featured many other stellar instrumentalists from New York and Brazil such as: Mark Turner, Seamus Blake, Chico Pinheiro, Hamilton de Holanda, Gabriel Grossi and Helio Alves. He has also performed alongside the legendary Brazilian singer/composer Joyce.

Feiner is also known for being an ambassador of the pandeiro, introducing people to the instrument around the world. A respected educator, he has given pandeiro workshops in the USA, Finland, Sweden, Austria and Slovenia. In the USA, he has also given presentations on the pandeiro and Brazilian music at the Manhattan School of Music (New York, NY), Williams College (Williamstown, MA), Uarts (Philadelphia, PA) and at the Percussion Arts Society International Convention (PASIC) 2008 in Austin, Texas. He also toured Mexico as a Jazz Ambassador for the US Department of State in 2009.