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Cyro Baptista(Profile/Biography)

United States
Since arriving in the U.S. in 1980 from his native country Brazil, Cyro Baptista has emerged as one of the premier percussionists in the country. Coinciding with the rise in the public’s interest of world music, Cyro has managed to record and tour with some of music’s most popular names. His mastery of Brazilian percussion and the many instruments he creates himself, have catapulted him into world renown.

With his own project, the percussion and dance ensemble known as ’Beat the Donkey’ Cyro gives free reign to his imagination, mixing his tremendous musical skills, his natural humor and theatrical ways with instruments from Brazil, Middle East, Indonesia, Africa and US.

Cyro’s credits read like a “Who’s Who” of modern music. He toured extensively with Yo-Yo Ma’s Brazil Project, Trey Anastasio's Band (of Phish), John Zorn's Electric Masada, Herbie Hancock's Grammy award winning “Gershwin’s World” , Sting and Paul Simon's "Rhythm of the Saints".

The wide range of artists Cyro Baptista has performed and recorded with include: David Byrne, Kathleen Battle, Gato Barbieri, Dr. John, Brian Eno, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Robert Palmer, Melissa Etheridge, Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Michael Tilson Thomas, Daniel Barenboin, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, Yo-Yo-Ma, Medeski Martin & Wood, Spyro Gyra, Trey Anastasio from Phish, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Santana and Sting. He has also played with many respected Brazilian artists such as Milton Nascimento, Caetano Veloso, Ivan Lins, Marisa Monte, and Nana Vasconcelos.

Cyro has performed on five Grammy award winning albums: Yo-Yo-Ma’s “Obrigado Brasil”, Cassandra Wilson’s “Blue Light ’Til Dawn”, The Chieftains' "Santiago", Ivan Lins' "A Love Affair", and Herbie Hancockæs highly-acclaimed "Gershwin's World". A documentary on Cyro's main project, Beat the Donkey, was recorded for the prestigious WGBH-TV Boston program 'La Plaza' won 3 New England EMMY Awards in 2002, and continues to air on PBS stations nationwide. Cyro collaborated with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for a Brazilian Carnaval modern jazz concert.

The first Beat the Donkey album, (TZADIK) was picked by The New York Times as one of the ten best alternative albums of 2002. Readers of JAZZIZ and DRUM magazine voted it as “Best Brazilian CD of the Year” and named Cyro “Best Percussionist of 2002.” Downbeat Magazine’s 51st annual critics’ poll selected Cyro as "Rising Star" in percussion.

Cyro’ first solo recording, Villa Lobos/Vira Loucos, a heady mix of his own compositions with the work of the brilliant Brazilian composer Heitor Villa Lobos, has been acclaimed as “the most courageous, bright, funny, dramatic, and imaginative work in recent memory.”

Blue Note Records released Supergenerous, a duo CD recorded with guitarist Kevin Breit (KD Lang, Cassandra Wilson). Billboard called Supergenerous “pure aural pleasure” and the Washington Post noted it “a marvelous debut that manages to feel outside and intimate at the same time.”

Cyro has also been composing music for the children’s television Nickelodeon.
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