New School Brazilian Jazz Ensemble

New School Brazilian Jazz Ensemble live at Silvana performing "Viva Hermeto!" program.


Richard Boukas founded the Brazilian Jazz Ensemble at New School Jazz in 1995, the first among all New York City area jazz studies programs.

In contrast with the Brazilian Choro Ensemble (which features a 140-year panorama of the genre's repertoire in a chamber ensemble setting)the group's music is contemporary Brazilian instrumental (known generally in Brazil as música instrumental) which leans more in the jazz direction and blends acoustic solo instruments with a more intense electric rhythm section.

Selecting pieces which cut across all primary Brazilian genres including samba, choro, baião, maracatu, marcha and frevo, the featured composer is the prolific genius Hermeto Pascoal and his lineage (known in Brazil as the "árvore" or tree) who are past and current members of Pascoal's legendary group: Jovino Santos Neto, Itiberê Zwarg. Other brilliant contemporary composers featured include Guinga and Sérgio Santos

Boukas's distinctive arrangements are based on authoritative scores donated by the composers and/or his meticulous transcriptions of landmark recordings. With Boukas as educator-mentor, the players assimilate fundamental vocabularies for each core genre: melodic phrasing and articulation, rhythm section foundations, dynamic soloist/rhythm section interaction and improvisational vocabulary. The result is an ensemble of the highest professional level, acting as ambassador for a brilliant musical repertoire that receives far less exposure outside of Brazil than it merits.

The instrumentation is: two or three woodwinds, vocals, guitar, piano, bass, drums.
To date the ensemble has over seventy pieces in its diverse repertoire.   


In spring 2016, Boukas prepared a special new program to commemorate Hermeto Pascoal's 80th birthdayVIVA HERMETO!

The program consists of fourteen new arrangements including premieres of several pieces by Pascoal written between 2006-11, works by former pianist Jovino Santos Neto and perennial Pascoal bassist Itiberê Zwarg. The concert was streamed live from Silvana by Livamp and performed again at New School Glass Box Theater Live audio tracks from both concerts will be up on this page shortly, so check back on this page for updates. Boukas plans to formally record and release a CD of this landmark program in the fall.




Jovino Santos Neto and Hermeto Pascoal at the Blue Note, c. 1990

Current Brazilian Jazz Ensemble members are:

Jasper Dutz, woodwinds  
Joel Steinke woodwinds
Kana Miyamoto guest flutist

Arta Jekabsone, vocals                        
Gabriel Chakarji, piano                 
Omer Berger, guitar  

Alex Talarico, bass             
Ben Silashi, drums

Joel Steinke and Jasper Dutz performing Pascoal's "Azulinhada"

Arta Jekabsone

Alex Talarico

Gabriel Chakarji

Drummer Ben Silashi