Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1955, Lubambo was first introduced to jazz and classical music by his guitarist uncle. He initially started out on piano, but eventually adopted the guitar as his main instrument around age 13. During the '70s he honed his skills studying at Villa-Lobos School of Music, but also earned a degree in engineering. In 1985 Lubambo relocated to the United States, where he worked with legendary vocalist Astrud Gilberto and formed a lasting partnership with flutist Herbie Mann. Since moving to the U.S., Lubambo has toured and or/recorded with a long and enviable list of artists, including Claudia Acuña, Gato Barbieri, Michael Brecker, Regina Carter, Dave Douglas, Paquito D'Rivera, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, and many others.
As a leader, Lubambo is quite prolific, having debuted in the '90s with a handful of collaborations, including 1990's Autonomia with harmonica player Rildo Hora, 1993's Face to Face with pianist Weber Drummond, and 1994's Coisa Fina with vocalist Leny Andrade, among others. He also recorded several albums with his Trio da Paz featuring bassist Nilson Matta and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca, including 1992's Brazil from the Inside and 1994's Black Orpheus. He topped off the decade with a superb live solo album, 1999's Lubambo.
He stayed active during the early 2000s, releasing a handful of well-received efforts including 2002's Duo with César Camargo Mariano and 2003's Rio de Janeiro Underground. In 2005 he returned to Trio da Paz for Somewhere. A year later he paired with longtime associate flutist Mann for Softly. He then delivered the romantic Love Dance in 2007, followed by the Trio da Paz concert album Live at JazzBaltica in 2008. In 2011 he joined trumpeter Claudio Roditi for Bons Amigos, followed in 2014 by his Sunnyside debut, Só: Brazilian Essence, a collection of Brazilian standards and originals played solo. A year later he delivered Setembro: A Brazilian Under the Jazz Influence for the label. Lubambo collaborated with guitarist, composer, and singer Edú Lobo and saxophonist Mauro Senise on a pair of trio albums for Brazil's Biscoito Fino label, 2017's Dos Navegantes and 2019's Quase Memória were both warmly received by critics across the globe. In between, the guitarist and Maucha Adnet served as co-featured guests with the Jovino Santos Neto Quinteto on Por Causa de Voce for Adventure Music.
In 2021, Lubambo fulfilled a career long dream to work live with a jazz chamber group. The Sunnyside album Live at Dizzy's was recorded over four nights in 2019 at the Jazz at Lincoln Center club. The ten-track set featured the guitarist and his Brazilian rhythm section -- accordionist Victor Gonçalves, pianist Helio Alves, electric bassist Itaiguara Brandão, and drummer Mauricio Zottarelli, alongside the Rafael Piccolotto Chamber Orchestra that included winds, reeds, brass, and a string quartet. In addition to nine Lubambo originals, the set included a samba cover of Bobby Troup's "Route 66," with vocalist Pamela Driggs. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi
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