A native of Bahia, Brazil, versatile multi-instrumentalist Almir Côrtes is equally at home on mandolin, acoustic and electric guitars, Viola Caipira (Brazilian ten-string guitar) and the rarely-seen Bahian guitar. His repertoire of styles is equally broad and includes Choro, Frevo, Samba, Baião, Bossa Nova and Brazilian jazz. Equally in demand as a teacher and scholar, Almir is currently a professor at the University of Rio de Janeiro’s Villa-Lobos Institute – where he conducts the Orchestra of Plucked Strings and the web series Villa de Sons.
Almir holds a B.A. in classical guitar from the Federal University of Bahia, and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in popular music performance from the University of Campinas-São Paulo. He was on the faculty of the 2012 Mandolin Symposium, was a visiting artist/scholar at the Jazz Studies Department at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, and at the College of Liberal & Creative Arts at San Francisco State University, and at the Latin Music and Culture Celebration, organized by Berklee College of Music.
As a leader of his own groups, which feature many of his original compositions, he seeks to expand the boundaries of traditional Brazilian musical styles through experimentation and improvisation. He has performed throughout Brazil as well as the United States, Europe and Cuba with David Grisman, Mike Marshall, Nailor Proveta, Howard Alden, Jovino Santos Neto, Armandinho Macêdo, Alessandro Penezzi and Izaías Bueno. In 2018, his Quartet appeared at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz, California and featured Harvey Wainapel, Scott Thompson and Brian Rice.
Presently, he is releasing his sixth CD, the album “Três Baías” (Three Bays), a Choro trio with Nando Duarte (7-string guitar) and Brian Rice (pandeiro). It is is inspired by the three bays from where each of us come; Bahia de Todos Santos in Bahia Brazil, Guanabara in Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco Bay. Três Baías celebrates the release of their first CD featuring several musical guests: Silvério Pontes (trompet and fluguel), Nicolas Krassik (violin), Mike Marshall (mandolin), Daniela Spielmann (soprano sax) and Marcelo Caldi (accordion).
“It has been my great pleasure of working with Almir here in the U.S.A. He has taught at my mandolin camp, The Mandolin Symposium in Santa Cruz, California. An event that I created with fellow mandolinists David Grisman and Chris Thile in 2006. Almir is a virtuoso instrumentalist who swings like mad in a variety of musical styles and improvises with great energy and creativity. But most importantly he is a delight to be around personally and presents himself with humility and a beautiful open heart. He is a world class teacher and performer on mandolin and guitar. I look forward to more collaborations with Almir and wish him and his students all the best at his new position at UNIRIO.” ~Mike Marshall