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Planeta Azul: A Brazilian Entertainment Group: about us

Planeta Azul Samba Band

Planeta Azul, led by Luciano Antonio, is a fusion of uniquely gifted artists who bring forth a consistent, robust & full sound. Whether performing original works or interpreting Brazilian classics, the blend of grooving harmonies & soul leaves audiences wanting more.

Made up of some of the most highly regarded musicians in the Chicago music scene, each musician is a master of their respective craft, possessing the innate sense needed to achieve the passion of this compelling music and beat. This young and dynamic group heats up the Brazilian and Latin music scene throughout Chicago and the Midwest. Individually and together they are among the most commissioned artists for collaborative works, which include professional recordings, concerts, and other social and private events. Past engagements include the Jakarta International Jazz Festival, opening performances for Caetano Veloso, Vinicius Cantuaria, Virginia Rodrigues, Howard Levy, Roberto Assad, Bobby Broom, Bob Lizik, Yolanda Adams and Joe Vasconcelos, the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events, The Democratic Convention of 2004.

Passistas Samba Dance Troupe - Rachel Montiel, Founder & Group Director

The Passistas Samba dance group is the Midwest's premier samba dance company. Passistas strives to evoke the essence of the rainhas and musas of carnaval, the queens and muses, whose official role is to be the inspiration of the bateria (percussion section), to embody the spirit of their samba school, gracing all with their elegance, charm and passion for samba.

Though a young group, Passistas Samba dancers have transformed the Chicago Samba dance scene, from their costuming, to their performance style, and even their trademark samba poses! According to the founder, Rachel Montiel: "We strive for excellence: every performance, every client experience, every event!"

My Style Me .5

Passistas regularly makes national appearances, both on-stage and television, with appearances on WGN America, Fox32, Univision, Telemundo, TLC, and most recently, The Science Channel's "Through the Wormhole." Passistas was also chosen as the official dancers for Rio2's Summer Party Tour, and were also guest performers with the internationally acclaimed band, String Cheese Incident, the headliners at this year's Electric Forest Festival. We have also been chosen five times out of the past seven years as the dance troupe of choice for the City of Chicago's SummerDance series for showcasing Brazilian dance. Our roster of beautiful, talented dancers, couture samba costumes, and innovative, yet authentic dance performances have helped Passistas Samba to become one of the nation's most sought-after Brazilian dance companies.

 

Passistas Summerdance 2013_resized

Honors & Awards

Best Brazilian Dance Group, Chicago

Chicagoano Blog - All things Brazilian with a Chicago Accent

Passistas Samba Dance Troupe voted Best Brazilian Dance Group by Chicagoano's Best of Brazil in Chicago readers' choice poll.

Best Album by a Local Musician

Chicagoano - All things Brazilian with a Chicago accent

Bandleader, Luciano Antonio's "Vida de Artista" received top honors by Chicagoano's Best of Brazil in Chicago readers' choice poll for best album by a local musician.

Best Artist Performing Solo or with Multiple Groups

ChicagoAno - All things Brazilian with a Chicago accent

Bandleader, Luciano Antonio recognized as Best Artist Solo or with Multiple Groups by Chicagoano's Best of Brazil in Chicago readers' choice poll.

2014 National Nominees for Danca Folklore

Brazilian International Press Awards

February 2014

Passistas Samba Dance Troupe nominated for 2014 Brazilian International Press Awards in top national dance group category.

2014 National Nominee for Cantores

Brazilian International Press Awards

February 2014

Bandleader, Luciano Antonio nominated for 2014 Brazilian International Press awards in top national male vocalists category.

2013 Nominee for Cantores

Brazilian International Press Awards

February 2013

Bandleader, Luciano Antonio nominated for 2013 Brazilian International Press awards in top male vocalists category.

2012 National Nominee for Cantores

Brazilian International Press Awards

February 2012

Bandleader, Luciano Antonio nominated for 2012 Brazilian International Press awards in top male vocalists category.

Luciano Antonio, 'Brazilian Jazz Guy' - Guitar, Vocals, Percussion

A force in the Brazilian Music Scene...

Luciano transcends all borders and time through his soulful renditions of some of Brazil's greatest compositions and his own original works and collaborations. Co-founder of Planeta Azul and founder of the Luciano Antonio Trio.

Luciano was born into a musical family in rural Iretama, Parana, Brazil’s southern region. From this melodiously rich environment, he learned first how to sing with his mom, Luiza Maria. By age 14, he took the violão (acoustic guitar) as a self taught instrument, focusing his repertoire on Brazilian Folk and Bossa Nova (Brazilian Jazz) and continued his pursuit through the study of classical guitar at the age of 17. Luciano’s music journey next led him to the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) where he received a bachelor’s degree in music performance. After successfully completing his education at UMKC, he relocated to Chicago where he has since established himself as a popular Brazilian Jazz Artist, having recently performed at the Jakarta International Jazz Festival and completed a mini-tour of Japan. Luciano collaborates with many great fellow artists and through his own project, continues to invigorate the Chicago Latin and Jazz scene. Make no mistake; Luciano has placed his stamp on the Brazilian music scene in Chicago. He also performs with Al Sur, A Cor Do Brasil, Evanston Orquestra de Samba, Som Brasil and as a soloist. Other recent engagements include opening performances for Caetano Veloso, Vinicius Cantuaria, Virginia Rodrigues, performances for the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events, The Democratic Convention of 2004, the Taste of Chicago, Chicago Summerdance and several commercial releases. Luciano also plays classical guitar for weddings, social events and private functions.

Yaasha Abraham - Director of Education & Youth Outreach, Choreographer, Artist Coordinator

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Yaasha is charged with coordinating after school dance and music programs for Planeta Azul Band and Passistas Samba Dance Group. She also works as a samba dance instructor in collaboration with Brazil in Chicago Brazilian Cultural Center(www.brazilchicago.com)and Quilombo Cultural Center (www.quilombocenter.org), where she is the dance director. Years of dance, years of choreographing for Passistas Samba Dance Group, and years of teaching within the high risk youth sector have given Yaasha the tools necessary to run a successful program. She doesn't just teach her students, she reaches them, helping provide needed skills to achieve both inside and outside of her classroom:

- confidence in self

- self respect

- discipline

- focus

- cultural awareness

- reward

Yaasha is also the Artist Coordinator for Planeta Azul & Passistas Samba and helps to manage our large events by assisting Event Coordinators and acting as the liaison between artists and event directors, directing/coordinating the Passistas Samba dancers, and directing/coordinating the Planeta Azul band. No event is ever too large or too complex with Yaasha at hand!

Felipe Fraga - Percussion, Vocals, Drums, Cavaquinho

Felipe Fraga Brazilian percussionist, drummer and vocalist. Felipe, originally from Curitiba in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, has been playing percussion since age 9. At age 13, he began studies at the Fine Arts and Music School of Paraná (EMBAP), where he performed with local orchestras, big bands and marching bands, the MPB Orchestra of Curitiba and with artists such as Arthur Moreira Lima, Altamiro Carrilho, Joel Nascimento, José Canuto and Roberto Gnatalli. Since relocating to Chicago in 2001, he has performed and/or recorded with Howard Levy, Robert Irving III, Wallace Roney, Farred Haque, Miles Evans, Yolanda Adams, Nick Colionne and Joe Vasconcelos and opened for Vinicius Cantuária, Daniela Mercury and Bajofondo. Most recently, Felipe was a featured percussionist for Robert Irving III’s “Sketches of Brazil” project that debuted at Millennium Park.

Heitor Garcia - Percussion, Drums

Heitor was born in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he started his music education in 1983 at “Milton Nascimento’s Musica de Minas” and at the Music Conservatory of MG. In 1984, he traveled throughout Brazil, recording and performing on live T.V., concerts, radio shows, and theaters. Heitor moved to Chicago in 1991, and has been working as a drummer and percussionist ever since, participating in various Brazilian, Latin Jazz, and world music groups: Paulinho Garcia’s Jazzmineiro, Ensemble Kalinda, Chicago Immigrant Orchestra; and for the past 3 years as an invited musician of the Joe Vasconcellos US/Canada tours (one of Chile's best known singers/composers in South America). His recent achievements with the band Hijazz (Hijaz) incorporates Brazilian and Latin jazz into Arabic Jazz.

Geraldo de Oliveira - Percussionist

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Yuri Hevia - Percussion

coming soon...

Neusa Sauer - Vocalist, Legend

Luciano Antonio & Neusa Sauer informal rehearsal (Verde by Eduardo Gudin/Costa Netto)

Luciano Antonio & Neusa Sauer informal rehearsal (Pierrot by Flavio venturini & Murilo Antunes)