Moyses Dos Santos

“With regards to the UK jazz scene I believe it’s getting better and better, you’ve got the Love Supreme Jazz Festival…You’ve got the London Jazz Festival, 606 Club, Ronnie Scott’s etc. But musicians they need to start believing in and doing their own thing and just get out there. Success will come if you work hard enough.” – Moyses Dos Santos

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Moyses Dos Santos is a Brazilian born musician who since converting to the bass guitar has made an indelible mark on the global gig circuit. His vibrant, effervescent Jazz, Rock and Funk filled grooves have entertained audiences the world over. oyses was in town to play a one-off gig at Pizza Express Jazz Bar, Soho, alongside a select group of talented musicians, collectively known as Moyses Dos Santos and Friends. Michael J Edwards sat down with an ebullient Moyses prior to his taking to the stage to get an insight into the man, his music and future projects.

Michael J Edwards: Where did it all start for you back in sunny Brazil, parental wise etc?

Moyses Dos Santos: My Dad is a businessman, but he’s very musical, he plays keys just by ear. My two sisters started singing in church, and my brother he plays drums as well, but he’s also a businessman, because in Brazil it’s hard to make money in music. Since I was a kid I started playing in church. I was born in São Paulo, it has about 20 million people, and it’s very cosmopolitan; it’s a crazy place! When I was eighteen I started playing secular music, I was playing outside church. I started playing with big names over there and when I turned twenty-one I travelled to the UK with a gospel band, and we played throughout Europe.

Michael J Edwards: How old were you when you gravitated towards the bass guitar?

Moyses Dos Santos: I started playing the guitar when I was fifteen and I switched to the bass when I was seventeen, as I needed to replace a band member who had to leave. When I got the bass I thought, “Oh my God! This is amazing! You can play slap, you can play chords, you can do basically everything that you can’t do on the guitar, and I love the groove.

Michael J Edwards: So while we’re there what other musical influences do you have?

Moyses Dos Santos: I listen to Jaco Pastorius and Michael Jackson.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Michael J Edwards: So when and why did you move to the UK?

Moyses Dos Santos: I had been travelling a bit, hanging out and playing with a few musicians. Then I came to the Birmingham conservator to study Jazz, about seven years ago. And then the first week when I was supposed to start, I got offered a tour with a band called’ Saravasoul. It was a three-month tour all around, in all the places I wanted to go. So I cancelled with the Birmingham conservatoire and I went on the tour. Probably today, I would be a better musician, but I was glad I did that tour because I learned a lot from the other musicians; and then I moved to London.

Michael J Edwards: What year did you make the move to London?

Moyses Dos Santos: I came to London four years ago, in 2011. I went to Brazil for three months and MD’d with a few bands over there, but I’ve been based in London for four years, and I want to stay here for a long time.

Michael J Edwards: You’re known on the circuit for playing many venues across London, especially the 606 Club, which has culminated in your latest album release. Please expand?

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Moyses Dos Santos: I was doing various sessions, and playing all the festivals with Pop artists, but I started doing my own thing, such as ‘Moyses Dos Santos and Friends’ and called musicians that I liked to play alongside me… And I’ve started recording my album right now; I’m going to have big names on it.

Michael J Edwards: What genre of music are you focusing on with this album?

Moyses Dos Santos: I think it’s just ‘good music,’ because anything can be Jazz man; Brazilian music can be Jazz. It’s going to be good music; I’m going to get singers as well. I’m going to get funk musicians; and drummer Pete Ray Biggin is going to be on the album as well. I also want to have musicians that you wouldn’t expect to hear on the Jazz album; I want to get big names for this album – all my favourite musicians.

Michael J Edwards: With all this mention of bass players and bass guitars, can you tell us about Peter Scott who built a few of your guitars?

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Moyses Dos Santos: Three months ago Pete Ray Beggin asked me to support his band, because he’s launching his album, with an amazing band as well! The album is just out in Japan right now and has vibes like Jamiroquai, and is going to be amazing! So I support him and then I met Peter Scott who made a bass guitar for Mark King and Pete also, so I’m very pleased that he built me a couple personally. I also use Sadowsky and Devon bass guitars.

Michael J Edwards: Please describe the dynamics of your band?

Moyses Dos Santos: I would say the drummer Pete and myself are the drivers, the lead guitarist and everyone else having fun, and we’ve got it locked together. You’re going to see Pete later tonight and he’s going to be keeping that rhythm and then sometimes he goes off! (Laughs)

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Michael J Edwards: So the new album where do you intend to record it?

Moyses Dos Santos: Most probably I’ll use Pete’s studio, especially when recording the drums. Then I’ll send the album over to the other musicians so that they record their parts in their own studios and so on. So it’s going to be collaboration from everybody, but not necessarily with all of us in the same studio at the same time. So hopefully I can do that with some musicians that I have in mind.

Michael J Edwards: What are your thoughts on the current UK Jazz scene, looking from the inside out?

Moyses Dos Santos: Everyone says they can’t make money with Jazz, blah, blah, blah, but if you believe, you can make things happen. With regards to the UK jazz scene I believe it’s getting better and better, you’ve got the Love Supreme Jazz Festival; I played there with Omar this year, it was beautiful. You’ve got the London Jazz Festival, 606 Club, Ronnie Scott’s etc. But musicians they need to start believing in and doing their own thing and just get out there. Success will come if you work hard enough.

Michael J Edwards: What other projects do you have on the go?

Moyses Dos Santos: Pete Ray Beggins and I have a band we put together called ‘Lola’s Day Off’, it’s best described as Robert Glasper with the UK sound. And we’ve got some amazing musicians in that band; for instance we’ve got Carl Hudson on the keys, James Gardiner-Batemans (sax), Soweto Kinch (sax) is on the album as well as other musicians, and Emma Smith on lead vocals. We plan to have other vocalists on the album but they’re still talking to their managers at the moment. We’re going to launch the album on 24th September at The Forge in Camden Town.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

So I wanted to create something similar to what Robert Glasper was doing in America. But when you hear what we’re doing, it’s got the UK sound. We did a version of ‘Parklife’; we were just chilling in the studio and I said, “Shall we do a version of ‘Parklife’?” And it sounds bad! With UK sound, you guys just check that out, ‘Lola’s Day Off’ – ‘Parklife’. I’m doing my thing, and Pete’s doing his thing, but that is something you should check out. Also Lala Hathaway and Robert Glasper have been Tweeting it – they love it!

Michael J Edwards: Are there any musicians alive or since departed that you would love or have loved to play alongside?

Moyses Dos Santos: Lee Ritenour. I went to see him perform and we became really close…There’s also a guy called Ethan Farmer he’s an exceptional bass player. I wrote this track where one bass plays the groove and the other bass plays the melody, and then they both crash at the end. It’s crazy man trust me!

Michael J Edwards: So we’re here tonight at Pizza Express Jazz Bar, please give us the lowdown on the consummate musicians playing alongside you?

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Moyses Dos Santos: I met Tomasz Bura (piano) in the Troy Bar, and I saw him play and I was like, “Man! This guy is special!” And we played Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’, and when he started soloing I was amazed!. And we just started talking, and I said, “Man, I’ve got to take your number!” From then on we started playing together, and for me he’s one of the best; Him and Carl Hudson. This guy, Tomasz is going to be massive. I met Pete Ray Biggins (drums) because he’s best friends with Rick James the bass player. Then they had an argument and they didn’t speak for six months! (Laughs) So we did a swap and we’ve been friends since then. We didn’t actually play together talked about music for a year, but we kept in touch. Then he called me to play in his band… We understand each other so well, and we talk about relationships, we talk about life and places that we’ve been, but never about music.

I’ve known Jay Phelps (trumpet) for years and years because he used to play with Soweto Kinch, but I never played with Jay apart from in a jam session. Then I said to myself, “I’ve got to call him to come and play with me.” I’ve got a couple of guys who play sax that I can call on, but I wanted Jay my band. He’s like ‘next level!’ On guitar, there’s a young guy called Lekiya, whose twenty-one years old. But it’s funny because when we started playing together, he wasn’t in the band yet. Then I saw him playing a few times, and that was it.

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

Michael J Edwards: Do you have a preference, with regard to studio recordings or playing live?

Moyses Dos Santos: I love being in the studio just because I can be more creative. Sometimes I’ve got to play live more for the money, but I also do a bit of teaching. But for me personally I love the studio because I can write the music, record it and go back and listen and see what’s wrong. So hopefully my album will be released next year in March 2016, that’s the plan. Actually it’s not an album, it’s an EP; It will have four or five tracks. So look out for that.

Michael J Edwards: Thank you for the time Moyses, we’re looking forward to a funky gig this evening.

Michael J Edwards

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Photo: Courtesy of David S. James

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