Brazilian master percussionist and teacher Jorge Alabê was born in Rio de Janeiro and grew up immersed in the rich musical culture of Brazil. He developed from a young age as a master drummer in the Afro-Brazilian tradition of Candomblé, and his title “Alabê” signifies the highest level of skill, deep knowledge, and authority in the rhythms, songs, and leading of rituals in Candomblé. Jorge also grew as a samba percussionist, playing with the highest-level escolas de samba in Rio—especially as a member of the bateria of Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel—and achieved recognition as one of the top repinique players of his time. He served as rhythm director of the Minas Gerais Samba School in Belo Horizonte and participated in recordings with Milton Nascimento and Martinho da Vila.
Jorge became known internationally while he was percussion director and a featured performer with the legendary Brazilian performing group Oba Oba. During his 15 years with Oba Oba, he toured through Europe, Asia, and South America, as well as the United States. Jorge moved to the U.S. in 1996, first residing in New Orleans, where he mentored and performed with the cultural group Casa Samba. He has been teaching workshops in samba and folkloric percussion as well as Candomblé rhythm, song, and dance forms throughout the U.S. since then and has been an inspiration to numerous musicians and community groups across the country.
Alabê moved to the Bay Area in 2004, where he leads his Samba group, Grupo Samba Rio, and he continues to perform, teach, and inspire students. He has also been the Samba Director at California Brazil Camp since its inception in 1997. Jorge Alabê became well known to students of traditional music as a featured singer on the CD Bata-Ketu: A Musical Interplay of Cuba and Brazil and has more recently released a recording of Candomblé music, Cantigas e Ritmos dos Orixas: The Music of Candomblé. Together with musician Michael Spiro, he has developed a program of online Brazilian percussion lessons, at SambaMasterClass.com, where video lessons are offered in a variety of percussion styles, featuring Jorge as master performer and teacher.