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Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Rafael Barata started playing drums at age of 5. His whole childhood was surrounded by music. The Samba and especially the Bossa Nova were his playground, always having fun with his dad Roberto Mendes and his brother Roberto Barata both musicians.  This great culture genuine from RJ, Brazil, made his drumming a reference around the world. He started his studio career at the age of 14. He has won two International Brazilian Drums contests: 1st Batuka - At the age of 15, and the Batuka Masters 2000 at the age of 20. In the same time, he started to play with greatest Samba Jazz legends from 60’s that introduced to him the Jazz world. This experience enhanced his jazz approach so much and years later he went to NY, where he started to play with the Jazz masters.


Since then, Rafael has recorded and performed with several internationally acclaimed artists including Emilio Santiago, Rosa Passos, Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson, Kenny Barron, Edu Lobo, Leny Andrade, Lisa Ono, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Werner, Toots Thielemans, Antonia Bennett, Esperanza Spalding, Christian McBride, Ivan Lins, Milton Nascimento, Romero Lubambo, Zezé Motta, Liz Rosa, Angela Ro Ro, Nana Caymmi, Boca livre group, Paula Morelenbaum, Carol Saboya, Amanda Brecker, Maúcha and Muiza Adnet, Andréa Dutra, Mônica Salmaso, Joyce, Alcione, Luís Melodia, Zizi Possi, Flávio Venturini, Leila Pinheiro, João Bosco, Roberto Menescal, Antonio Adolfo, João Donato, JT Meirelles, Jaques Morelenbaum, Lula Galvão, Maurício Einhorn, Mario Adnet, Moacir Santos, Hélio Celso, Idriss Boudrioua, Osmar Milito, Durval Ferreira, Marcos Amorim, Daniel Garcia, Jeff Gardner, Mika Mori, Nelson Faria, Paulo Moura, Mike Moreno, Root System L.A. Group, Klaus Mueller, Dave Liebman, Ricardo Vogt, Leo Gandelman, Marcos Nimrichter, Cliff Korman, Augusto Mattoso, Leonardo Amuedo, Claudio Roditi, Guilherme Dias Gomes, Turi Collura, Spok Frevo, Hamilton de Hollanda, Gabriel Grossi, Hermeto Pascoal, Marcos Valle, Raul de Souza, Oscar Castro Neves, Dario Galante,  Zé Renato, Roberta Sá, Paula Santoro, Ney Matogrosso, the Singer/drummer Wilson das Neves, Alma Thomas, Chiara Civello, Jenny Robson, Gastão and Antônio Villeroy and many many others. 

He was the house drummer at Mistura Fina - Rio de Janeiro's Jazz headquarters - for many years with the piano legend Osmar Milito and the bassist Augusto Mattoso. At this venue, he had the opportunity to play with several great artists including Russell Ferrante, Mike Shapiro, John Pizzarelli, Jane Monheit, Karrin Allison, Kevin Lethau, Mike Stern and many others American jazz artists. 


Since early 2000’s he has been touring around the world, performing in the most expressive Jazz festivals and Theaters with these main projects: The "Cello Samba Trio" (with Jaques Morelenbaum and Lula Galvão), spreading the Bossa Nova culture, the Grammy winner Eliane Elias (including, Marc Johnson and Rubens De La Corte) and lately with the multi Grammy winner, Dianne Reeves. You can also find Rafael at Dave Zinno’s quintet Unisphere besides top players such as Mike Tucker, Benny Bloom and Leo Genovese and at his new group, i Trio, with André Vasconcellos on bass and Eduardo Farias on piano. He is also a Multi-Nominated Grammy Winning Drummer, Eliane’s “Made in Brazil” and several nominations including the Brazilian legend, composer, piano player, arranger, publisher and educator, Antonio Adolfo.

As an educator, he has presented clinics and master classes in the most important universities and music schools in the world, such as Berklee School of music, University of Southern California, University of Rhode Island, Brown University, Sibelius Academy, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Escola de música de Brasília, Escola de música Villa Lobos, Conservatório de música de Tatuí and several others drum schools. 

He also created the "Core of Research and Development of Art and Music", which is a project designed to help with the internal issues that every musician carries emotionally, and how this can affect their music in the end.


Dubbing himself 'The Traveler', Rafael travels around the world and inside the music to bring happiness to audiences far and wide. Due to the Covid-19, he has been focusing in keeping this flame as high as possible, through online live performances, remote audio/video music productions, as well as drum classes and music consulting.


Rafael Barata is sponsored by top global brands Tama Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, Vic Firth Drumsticks, Remo Drumheads, Latin Percussion, QSC Speakers and Stageworks UK.



Last update, July 21

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