Geovane Santos, guitarist, composer, arranger and vocalist, was born in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Santos started playing guitar at age 11 and began studying music seriously at 15. A first generation musician in his family, Santos was motivated by his parents to pursue music as a profession. His passion for jazz music brought him to New Orleans in 2015, where he studied at UNO and was awarded the 2017 Louis Armstrong Jazz Composition Award through the ASCAP Foundation.
Santos studied classical guitar, harmony and counterpoint, choir conducting, and jazz history, at CEFAR (Centro de Formação Artística), though he strongly relied on his parents’ musical taste to build his own stylistic preferences. Santos grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Dire Straights, James Brown in addition to MPB (Musica Popular Brasileira) and samba artists. Santos received Bachelor’s Degrees in Music Performance/Classical Guitar and Music Education from Minas Gerais State University (UEMG), where he played in the University’s Jazz Orchestra, and in the BH Gypsy Jazz and Caffeine Trio, and the Orquestra Minas Barroca.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance/Classical Guitar and Music Education from Minas Gerais State University (UEMG), Santos first flirted with jazz in 2007 playing the style of Django Reinhardt, musical style of which he eventually became a reference in the city of Belo Horizonte for the following 7 years. Working consistently as a free-lancer, session musician, assistant researcher in ethnomusicology for Minas Gerais State University (UEMG), and educator in his hometown, before moving from Brazil to the U.S. on May 2015, Santos was the guitarist of the Minas Gerais State University’s Jazz Orchestra, the lead guitarist and musical director for the groups BH Gypsy Jazz and Caffeine Trio, and he also played baroque guitar for the chamber orchestra Orquestra Minas Barroca.
In 2012, Santos met master guitarist Carl LeBlanc during a visit to New Orleans. This encounter influenced Santos to transition from the flat pick gypsy jazz to a modern jazz finger style technique, and to incorporate the electric guitar. In 2016, Santos’ musical experiences in New Orleans led him to adopt the 7-string guitar.
As a local New Orleans musician, Santos utilizes his guitar and his voice to bring Brazilian music to American audiences, concentrating on Bossa Nova and MPB repertoires. Santos takes a new approach to Brazilian music because although this music is well-known and appreciated all over the world, Santos creates his own arrangements, fusing it with New Orleans funk, West African rhythms and Caribbean beats. Santos’ intention is to de-mystify Brazilian music in the U.S. by exposing the varieties within samba, baião, marcha rancho, maracatú and other regional genres.
Currently, Santos is focusing on his GPS Brazilian Jazz project, which includes a solo act, duets, Brazilian Jazz Trio, Brazilian Jazz Quartet and Quintet, and a Traditional Brazilian Music Ensemble. Santos also works as a Louisiana State Certified teacher for the New Orleans public school music programs. Santos received a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies, under the advisement of Brian Seeger and Steve Masakowski in 2018. His research addresses the socio-political context surrounding samba music in the 1940-60s, and the implications of globalization and the process of “Americanizing” the Brazilian music industry through an ethnomusicological lens.