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SMJ Faculty

Samba Meets Jazz Workshops has developed a reputation for attracting a diverse, all-star faculty -- a who’s who of Brazilian, Afro-Cuban and Jazz.

Current Faculty

Brazilian Singers / Composers

Over the years, in our programs in Rio de Janeiro and the U.S., we have been honored to have these iconic Brazilian singer/composers as guest faculty.

Master Teaching Artists

Each year, it is with excitement that SMJ sculpts its faculty line-up.   Along with their artistry, our teaching artists bring their expertise and joy in teaching.  

music director

SMJ Artistic / Music Director


Multi-Grammy nominee / virtuoso bassist Nilson Matta has been a creative force in the evolution and popularity of Brazilian Jazz in the United States. Not long after he came to New York in 1985, he was performing and recording with Grammy-winning jazz greats Joe Henderson, Don  Pullen, Kenny Barron, Paul Winter, Sadao Watanabi, Paquito D’Rivera and Randy Brecker, as well as Herbie Mann, Lee Konitz and Mark Murphy.

Drawing from these collaborations, and from his work with Brazilian luminaries such as João Bosco, Oscar Castro Neves, Hermeto Pascoal, Chico Buarque, MPB4, João Gilberto, Luis Bonfa, Leny Andrade and Johnny Alf in Brazil to name a few, Matta has developed his own musical signature making him a first-call bass player of Brazilian music and jazz musicians.

Nilson Matta

It’s not surprising therefore, that when Yo Yo Ma sought band members for his Brazilian project, Nilson was the obvious choice for bass. Their recording of two Grammy CDs (Obrigado Brazil and Brazil – Live in Concert) prompted a two-year worldwide tour touching every corner of the globe.

A founding member of two internationally acclaimed Grammy-nominated groups – Trio Da Paz (Romero Lubambo, Duduka de Fonseca, drums) and Brazilian Trio (Helio  Alves, piano; Duduka de Fonseca, drums) – Matta has emerged as bandleader (Brazilian Voyage) composer, arranger and producer.  Most recently, his CD “East Side Rio Drive was nominated for a Grammy (2017). One of Matta’s current projects is a CD collaboration with Brazilian pianist Alfredo Cardim. 


Matta is committed to passing on his talents and experiences to the next generation.  He is a member of the International Society of Bassists, making frequent appearances as a featured guest and performer at the ISB Convention.  He taught at NYC’s famed Bass Collective for many yeaers, and has conducted master classes worldwide.  Throughout his longstanding career, Matta has shared his passion for, and experise in Brazilian music – not only with audiences but with aspiring musicians and hobbyists.

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