Brian Rice

Brian Rice, one of the most versatile percussionists in the Bay Area, has devoted much of his musical career to playing Brazilian music, choro in particular. Though best known as a specialist in Brazilian and Cuban music, he excels in numerous other musical styles ranging from classical and jazz, to Latin, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian, to contemporary and experimental music. His expertise on the pandeiro (“Brazilian tambourine”) has led to performances with numerous award-winning Brazilian artists, including mandolin virtuoso Danilo Brito, jazz pianist Jovino Santos Neto, clarinetist Paulo Sergio Santos, and guitarist Rogerio Souza. Rice performed on a vast array of hand drums in over seventy shows of The Lion King In 2004, and was invited to perform John Luther Adams’ monumental percussion work Inuksuit in 2012 and 2015. In 2017 Brian toured with the Danilo Brito Quintet, performing at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Savannah Music Festival and for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Rice earned a Bachelors in Music in Percussion Performance and Ethnomusicology at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and has since traveled to both Cuba and Brazil for musical studies. After Oberlin, he moved to Oregon and played with numerous salsa, reggae, and world beat bands, notably Balafon Marimba Ensemble, a Zimbabwean marimba group, and Tiempo Caribe, a folkloric drum and dance troupe specializing in South American and Caribbean music and dance. In 1994 Rice moved to Seattle to join Bochinche, performing for about 120 schools across Washington each year in the acclaimed production, “A Musical Tour of the Americas.”  He founded and directed the percussion and dance troupe Samba Seattle, and created and directed the Afro-Cuban Folkloric Collective, a drum and dance troupe specializing in Afro-Cuban folkloric traditions. Rice currently performs with GRAMMY Award-winning mandolin player Mike Marshall and Choro Famoso, Claudia Villela, Jorge Alabe and Samba Rio, Cascada de Flores, the Berkeley Choro Ensemble, of which he is co-founder and director, and Wake the Dead. He teaches Brazilian percussion at UC Davis, where he directs the Samba Bateria and the Afro-Cuban Ensemble, and teaches Brazilian music at UC Berkeley and the California Jazz Conservatory.