José Pires de Almeida Neto has a sophisticated fan base, those who understand the power of his music and the spirit it carries. He came to the United States in 1978 at the age of 24 without speaking much English and to follow his music passion. Soon after his arrival in 1979, Neto auditioned for the legendary Harry Belafonte who then invited Neto to join his band. For thirty years Neto toured and performed with Belafonte and then became his music director as well for ten years.
José is a founding member of the band Fourth World with the legendary master percussionist Airto Moreira and Brazil’s Queen of Jazz Flora Purim who started José’s journey at Ronnie’s Scotts Jazz Club in 1990. Neto is still composing and recording with Airto Moreira today.
In 1995, Jim Capaldi, the great drummer and songwriter of Traffic, came to Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club in London one the afternoon and jammed with José Neto and Airto Moreira. After Capaldi saw their band Fourth World perform that night, he brought master musician Steve Winwood the very next day to hear the band and Neto’s “apocalyptic sounds” as his music has been described in The London Times. That introduction to Steve led them to a musical friendship with multiple jams with Neto’s own band, The Netoband. A few years later Winwood asked Neto to join him in an Organ Trio, Winwood’s new project (more Traffic style) and they recorded About Time. Neto has been Winwood’s guitarist for the last 16 years and has collaborated with Winwood on several songs for the CDs About Time and Nine Lives.
Neto has been leading his own band The Netoband for over 25 years. Those members are Gary Brown, Frank Martin, Celso Alberti and Café. They’ve toured internationally and each member is a highly respected musician in his own right.
Despite all of Neto’s contributions to international world music, filmmaker Barbara McVeigh was incredibly surprised to learn how little the mainstream knows about Neto. He didn’t even have a Wikipedia entry up until last year. Yet, she discovered there was a select group of international fans who were highly devoted to Neto’s music and how well he was respected by legendary musicians and producers.
As Barbara got to know Neto, she began to understand him. He’s very soft spoken and self effacing. There is no ego involved and he always looks to shine the spotlight on someone else. As music journalist Paul Liberatore says about Neto, “He is in service to music and not to fame.”
This film will cast the light on this man behind the white guitar as we follow him to Brazil, New York, England and California to learn about his past and those who have taught and inspired him to be the man and musician he is today. Neto’s diverse musical journey and deep life challenges have taught him the values of loyalty, devotion and positive vision that speak through his sounds and performing spirit. He has touched the lives of the most unsuspecting fans worldwide.
To date we have captured footage from California, New York and Brazil. Here are some teasers.