Claudio and Daniel Slon, 1982.


Mic.JPG Interviews:   Slon ImpressionsPaper.JPG

Some of the musicians involved in recording "In a Brazilian Mood":
Top left corner: Vohn Regensburger; bottom left corner, Claudio Slon.


Interview with Vohn Regensburger

Vohn is a producer, composer, arranger, guitarist and recording artist who lives in Colorado.

This interview obtained via email on August 20, 2002.

Q.  Vohn, I'd like to begin by asking you how you first came to know Claudio Slon and what were the circumstances surrounding that meeting?

A.  I first met Claudio through my friend and former musical partner, Waldyr Menezes. He heard Claudio playing at a local jazz club here in Denver one night with a Brazilian trio including Aloisio Aguiar on piano and Octavio Bailly on bass. Waldyr, bursting with excitement, called me from the club and held the phone up so I could hear what all the fuss was about. "This is the real thing", he exclaimed, "this is how Brazilian music was meant to be played!" Even over the phone I could hear the intensity, the driving rhythms, and the chordal textures that peaked his enthusiasm. It was intoxicating to say the least.

I came down the next night to hear the trio perform, marveling at their musicianship and how natural the bossa nova emanated from them &endash; it was in their blood. I talked to Claudio between sets and found him to be so generous, easy-going, and full of stories. We brazenly asked the trio if they would be interested in performing on our upcoming recording. To my surprise they agreed, explaining that they had a return engagement here in Denver in the spring. We were so excited at the prospect of recording with these veritable giants of the Brazilian music scene. Not too far in the distant future, Claudio would surprise us all by making Denver his permanent home. He felt a kinship to Denver and the surrounding community. He truly liked living here even though the music scene wasn't a hot spot as he had grown so accustomed to in the past. We were all blessed when he decided to make Denver his home and fully embraced his arrival in the musical community.


Q.  Did you get to work with Claudio often?

A.  I had the good fortune of working with Claudio on two recordings, In a Brazilian Mood (my own CD), and a project by the singer Suzanne Morales, Vivir Con Amor. Claudio and I were slated to do another disc together, Gems in the Rough with vocalist Lynn Skinner, but Claudio passed away a month or so before the recording date. I knew he was really looking forward to recording with us on this project. Of course, he remains forever attached to this work in spirit and influence, a gentle guide and reminder connecting the past to the future.

Claudio was so much fun to work with on those projects, always one to poke fun in jest, smiling all the while. We had such a good camaraderie in the studio together as far as expectations and results. With Claudio as the anchor, I always knew we were destined for success while he was on board. His presence allowed me the freedom to experiment with the rhythms on guitar knowing he would always field the perfect compliment to my playing.


Q. You recorded a beautiful album in 1996 where Claudio is the drummer, called "In a Brazilian Mood." Is that album still in print? How was Claudio selected to be the drummer for that album?

A.  In a Brazilian Mood was such an important project for me on so many levels both personally and artistically. Our aforementioned all-star rhythm section also included Airto on percussion, with both Waldyr and I alternating on guitar each playing on our original pieces, and a twenty-piece string section. Wow! It's hard to imagine that this grandiose idea took shape so fast kick-started by Claudio and his friends agreeing to come aboard. He really gave this project the momentum it needed in the beginning. The CD is still in print, albeit harder and harder to locate as the distribution on an independent release becomes less and less of a priority. We'd all love to see it gain momentum one day again.


Q.  What is your favorite album on which Claudio plays (other than "In a Brazilian Mood") and what makes it your favorite?

A.  Wave, Wave, Wave ! I grew up listening to that record which surreptitiously helped form my style as a guitarist, composer and as an arranger. Jobim on guitar and as a composer, Claudio on drums, and Claus Ogerman as arranger. What an indelible mark these three would permanently leave on the music world. Claudio's rhythms were so fresh, innovative, and driving, such a perfect compliment to the music. Not unlike the craft of good acting, performing great music is all about listening and responding to those cues. That was Claudio's unmistakable gift.


Q.  I've heard that Claudio had a terrific sense of humor. Do you have any interesting stories to share with our readers about that side of him?

A.  Claudio could always sense the appropriate timing when humor needed to be interjected, especially when recording. He loved to trade barbs with Aloisio (the pianist) during the recording sessions of In a Brazilian Mood. Generally, these humorous jabs were centered around their birth rite. Aloisio was a Carioca (from Rio de Janeiro) and Claudio a Paulista (from São Paulo), creating a natural rivalry much like New Yorkers feel about Californians here in the states. These "friendly insults" would carry on long into the night. This all came to a head when Claudio began playing some strange type of polyrhythm on his kit during one of Aloisio's gorgeous solos causing the whole piece to come to a crashing halt. The end result had all of us bursting into laughter, including Aloisio, who agreed he had been one-upped.


Q.  Were you always a fan of Brazilian music and Brazilian rhythms?

A.  Brazilian music has been a first love of mine as far back as I can remember. The melodies were so beautifully constructed against a backdrop of exotic-sounding arrangements and romantic lyrics, sometimes melancholy, sometimes upbeat, yet always sublime. The chord progressions were so fresh, unlike anything I'd previously heard even in jazz, and all the while driven by the guitar. As a nylon-string guitarist myself, I was immediately drawn in, fully submerged in the music's trance. It was a perfect fit for me and what I longed to feel and hear. Such a rich litany of guitarists arose from this music: Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Djavan, Oscar Castro-Neves, Barbosa-Lima, Bellinati, Baden Powell, and Rafael Rabello to name but a few. To this very day I remain mesmerized by the music and deeply indebted to them all.

While attending music school, I began to compose original pieces in the bossa nova form. A classmate of mine once told me that this was only a phase for me and that I would eventually grow out of it. Some twenty years have passed since he issued that comment and I've never looked back in my love for Brazilian music.


Q.  Do you have any interesting stories to relate here about Claudio's life and/or your own personal experiences with him?

A.  Claudio loved opera and, in particular, Berg's Wozzeck. As a gesture of friendship I always had in my mind I would get him a recording of it, but somehow, I let it slip through the cracks. I'll always lament the idea that I let it slide…

I confided in Claudio one day that I deeply admired his drumming on the album Wave. I noticed that the liner notes included two or three other drummers on the record, so I asked him which cuts in particular he had performed on. He said, "Funny story. It was me on all the tracks. The producers hired a few percussionists as well, but somehow the information got confused when it went to print and they were credited along with me as co-drummers. What do you do?" He was so matter-of-fact about this mix-up, but had the sensibility to laugh about it as something that made a good story to tell along the way.

After I found out about Claudio's car accident, I immediately left to visit him in the hospital. I heard he had been in intensive care and close to death. I arrived unannounced and found him sitting in a chair in his hospital room reading an article that had been written about him in Modern Drummer that had just come out. He was intrigued about the press and seemed in good humor despite the dire circumstances surrounding him. He felt that he was healing up quite well and wanted to begin playing again in short order. One thing I'll never forget was the fact that he was so pleased with the outpouring of friendship he received in cards, letters, and phone calls regarding his accident. He was so well-loved, admired, and respected.

In my younger days I listened to Claudio's playing on records more than I'd ever care to admit, truly admiring and loving the music he had helped to create. It is quite remarkable that years later I would find myself working with such an innovator in the business. Even more remarkable was the idea that he would phone me on occasion to discuss ideas about the production of an upcoming project he was interested in embarking upon, both musical and otherwise, or sometimes just to shoot the breeze. I've come to understand many of us here in the music community have had similar experiences in dealing with Claudio. It is astounding to me that this man I'd admired so much in my past by happenstance would travel halfway around the world to end up in Denver, of all places. Life is truly amazing.


Q.  What would you like most for people to remember about Claudio - not only as a musician but also as a person?

A.  Claudio had the most unassuming air about him for a man of such depth, experience, and renown. Even through his certitude, he was so humble and generous to those of us trying to make great music. He was always flawless in the studio; one could tell he was a quiet perfectionist, bent on hearing what the music called for by adding his unique touch and sensibility. His greatest legacy is the mountain of recorded material he left behind for all of us to enjoy, ponder, and grow from. For those of us who had the distinct honor and pleasure of knowing him on a personal level, his beauty lives on in the music and spirit he bequeathed to us along the way.


Thank you, Vohn for the interview!




Gregg Karukas


Interview with Gregg Karukas

Gregg is an accomplished pianist, synthesizer programmer and recording artist.

This interview obtained via email on October 1, 2002.

Q.  Gregg, I'd like to begin by asking you when and how you first got acquainted with Claudio Slon.

A.  Through playing with Dori Caymmi starting about 1990.


Q.  Did you get to work with Claudio often during the time you knew him?

A.  For a few years, we played every 2 months in LA and went to Montreux.


Q.  What is your favorite recording on which Claudio plays, and what makes it your favorite?

A.  That's a hard one, any one of Dori's CDs.


Q.  Were you always a fan of Brazilian music and Brazilian rhythms?

A.  Since I grew up listening to Jobim's Wave, I heard Claudio without knowing it. Then in 1975 I heard Wayne Shorter's Native Dancer, and a chef at the jazz club I played at in DC, Harold's Rogue and Jar, lent me his Brazilian LP collection to tape. I've collected the LPs and CDs ever since.

I own all of Milton's records and much of Jobim, Airto, Hermeto, Egberto Gismonti since the 70's....Simone, Edu, Chico Buarque...I had played with Ricardo Silveira, Sergio Mendes and Dori in LA and worked with a few Brazilian drummers: Carlos Bala Gomez, and Teo Lima...but Claudio was the first Brazilian drummer who had a laid back, relaxed feel...and the slow, samba ballad, killer.


Q.  What albums have you recorded with Claudio? Are they still in print?

A.  Yes: Summerhouse (1993), and Dori's Brasilian Serenata and Kicking Cans.


Q.  Do you have any interesting stories to relate here to our readers about Claudio's life and/or your own personal experiences with him?

A.  Playing and recording with Dori Caymmi with Claudio on drums with his loose, but deep, groove will always be a major highlight of my musical life. I learned a lot just by listening to Claudio. His jokes and many stories of his ride on the Brazilian "Wave" to the top and the Creed Taylor/Van Gelder sessions were amazing.

......At Montreux JAZZ 1991 / it was "Brazil Night", I was one of only 2 Americans on the stage that night. It was evident that even in the company of Milton, Gal Costa, Quincy Jones, Chico Buarque and the entire Caymmi and Silva Families, Claudio was revered and respected by all. He and Dori introduced me to ALL of my heroes that day at sound check and I was floating on air for weeks after that.

Just thinking about those few days in Montreux.....after our soundcheck, I walked back to the hotel and right into the room where Miles Davis, Quincy and the Gil Evans Orchestra were rehearsing for the next night's about floating!! Every musician in the room had a grin on their face. That night, after our set, we watched part of Milton's final show on HDTV backstage and then I went out and sat right under him at the front edge of the stage......what luck!

Claudio liked to tell the story of his first trip to the States w/The Wanderley Trio...I think you may have heard it.....

"Summer Samba (So Nice)" spent a month on the Billboard Top-40 chart in 1966 so they came to NY to do some shows and maybe record more... They were going to meet with the label owner and had decided they needed an advance--some money for expenses.... they had all figured out ahead of time that they would ask for a certain amount of money and settle for whatever he offered and divide it up 3 ways. Claudio was to be the spokeman since he spoke the best English.

He said, "how much do you need....?", so Claudio named the figure they agreed upon. Well, the label guy said "Ok, just go downstairs to the bank this afternoon and I'll have them pay you".  So, they wait, and Evangelina [Claudio's wife] goes out on a walk window shopping. They get to the bank and the teller asks them how they want it. They say, "cash" and she counts out the entire sum agreed upon....EACH! [This was] in 1966!!!!

Claudio gets back to the hotel room before Evangelina and surprises her by laying all the money all over the bed and dresser....everywhere. They were RICH!!!!


Q.  I've heard that Claudio had a tremendous sense of humor - what is your own experience with that, if any?

A.  Always with the new joke.....emails too, once he moved to Colorado.


Q.  What would you like people to remember most about Claudio--as a person and as a musician?

A.  Claudio's musical contributions can never be overestimated. He was there!!!.... at all the critical turning points in the Worldwide explosion of Brazilian Music (not counting Carmen Miranda).  Claudio had a very broad knowlege of music from the World over. His incredible record collection included pristine copies of jazz, classical and Brazilian treasures. He was unassuming and generous and we'll miss him.


Thank you, Gregg, for doing this interview!


[Webmaster's note: be sure to visit Greg's website at]




Suzanne Morales


Interview with Suzanne Morales

Suzanne is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and recording artist.

This interview obtained via email on October 2, 2002.

Q.  Suzanne, I'd like to begin by asking you how you first came to know Claudio Slon and what were the circumstances surrounding that meeting?

A.  I had not met Claudio as yet, but some musicians who knew me well kept saying that he was the perfect drummer for my music. I went to hear him play at Vartan Jazz when I got closer to recording, fell in love with his playing, and it was then that I asked him if he was going to be in town when I was planning to record, and also if he was willing to play on my project.  He quoted me his price and I said "Of course!!!" I was so excited to have a Bossa Nova era survivor who had played the music that moves me so much; the music that inspires me to compose regardless of popular demand, playing on my CD.


Q.  Did you get to work with Claudio often?

A.  I regret that I never got to play with Claudio on a gig. I called him for a couple, but he was always booked elsewhere. Imagine that!


Q.  You were involved as a background vocalist for the album "In a Brazilian Mood" where Claudio is the drummer; what other projects did you and he work on together?

A.   "In a Brazilian Mood" and my CD "Vivir Con Amor" are the only two recordings we both worked on.


Q.  What is your favorite album on which Claudio plays and what makes it your favorite?

A.   Musically I adore all of the Jobim/Stan Getz recordings, but I love the album "Pais Tropical" by Sergio Mendes and Brazil '77. The reason why is because a friend of mine, Perry Martin, whose CD I sang on (San Fran Feelin') gave me an album he found once he found out that I was a Bossa Nova freak. I looked at it as I was thanking him and suddenly recognized one of the faces on the cover, Claudio Slon! So darling!


Q.  I've heard that Claudio had a terrific sense of humor. Do you have any interesting stories to share with our readers about that side of him?

A.  On my project we recorded the rhythm section live, which took two full days. When we finally finished I pulled out some Don Julio Tequila to celebrate with a shot. Claudio said, "My doctor says I shouldn't drink...make it a double." He cracked me up the entire weekend, but I just can't remember specifics. He was so spontaneously funny.


Q.  Were you always a fan of Brazilian music and Brazilian rhythms?

A.   I was raised in Central and South America and there we didn't have phones, stereos or television, so I really didn't listen to recorded music. When I began composing at age eighteen, I was amazed that everything came out either Bossa Nova or Samba. My family did live in Uruguay for a few years, and during that time we camped out on the beach in Brazil. I suppose that is the closest thing that might be held responsible for the musical style that I emulated.


Q.  Do you have any interesting stories to relate here about Claudio's life and/or your own personal experiences with him?

A.  Claudio embraced my music and me, which made me feel so comfortable, as if we had been friends for a longer time than a weekend. I love his count with that adorable accent, "wan, tu, tri" on the unmastered recordings. I tried to keep them in the mix, but was talked into excluding them. I refused to erase them though. I also have a recording of him singing the chorus of one of my songs, "Porque". That is something that just has to be heard in order for it to be fully appreciated.


Q.  What would you like most for people to remember about Claudio - not only as a musician but also as a person?

A.   I supposed that one could easily have been intimidated simply by setting eyes on his massive stature, but for no reason other than that, because he was so kind. I'm not going to assume anything about Claudio's purpose in any of our lives, but from the regretfully limited amount of time I spent with him, I will say that he contributed to a memorable, enjoyable and harmonious recording experience. My eyes pool up as I write this, I am so proud to have had the privilege of being a part, however small, of Claudio Slon's recorded history.


Thank you, Suzanne, for doing this interview!



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