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Zuzo Moussawer - January 2006

In October 2005, Brazilian Zuzo Moussawer demonstrated his innovative solo electric bass skills as one of four finalists that were selected amongst hundreds of contestants to perform at the first Bass Extremes International Contemporary Solo Bass Competition in South Carolina. As a result of his inspiring proficiency, Moussawer was awarded second prize by a legendary panel of judges including Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey, Anthony Jackson, Will Lee, and drummer Gregg Bissonette.

On projects under his own name, Moussawer fuses the sounds of jazz, funk, blues, rock, country, Latin, Arabic, and Brazilian genres together employing two-handed tapping, percussive-laden slapping, sophisticated chordal work, and harmonic techniques. Along with performing on an assorted collection of basses including standard 4-string bass, double-neck bass, piccolo bass, and acoustic bass guitar, Moussawer is a multi-instrumentalist who also plays drums, guitar, percussion, and keyboard on many of his recordings.

In this interview, Moussawer discusses his experience as a finalist in the Bass Extremes International Contemporary Solo Bass Competition, his recordings as a solo artist, the material contained within his instructional videos, and utilizing advanced performance techniques within the context of his music.

Zuzo Moussawer Could you tell us about your background?

I started playing bass in 1985 as a member of a rock band. After that, I played in a blues band and soon later was playing in an instrumental band called Mr. Green. Before I picked up bass, I played a bit of drums and guitar.

Have you studied music formally or do you consider yourself self-taught?

I'm absolutely self-taught as a bassist. Since 2004, I've been studying music formally in a Brazilian school called Souza Lima. It's a fantastic school, and I also teach bass there. The main reason behind pursuing formal studies is so that I can acquire the skills necessary to compose music for orchestras and movies which are two things that I really love.

Which bassists have had the biggest influence on your playing?

The biggest influences on my groove playing have been bassists such as Rocco Prestia, Larry Graham, and Brazilian bassist Luizao Maia. In terms of solo concepts, Michael Manring and Victor Wooten have definitely been significant influences. Even though I don't use most of their techniques, they are great influences on me musically. And, of course, Jaco Pastorius is a huge influence.

In October 2005, you were a finalist in the first Bass Extremes International Contemporary Solo Bass Competition. Can you tell us about your experience?

For me, it was a great opportunity to demonstrate a few of my arrangements and hopefully spread the word about my recordings that feature my compositions performed within an ensemble.

What kind of material did you perform?

I really wanted to play some of my own compositions. I have three solo projects which are all very different from each other, but I decided to play only arrangements of well-known American music such as "A Night In Tunisia", "The Chicken", and "Donna Lee" with the idea of providing some kind of musical reference to the audience and the judges.

Do you perform primarily as the leader of your own band or do play mostly as a sideman in other groups?

Right now, I just perform with my own band, but I would also like to play with other musicians, especially drummers because my latest recording features arrangements for just bass and drums.

Zuzo Moussawer Can you tell us about the material on your projects as a solo artist?

On my first CD, Express, which was released in 1997, I worked with a band in an electric guitar environment and composed the music primarily on a double-neck bass (one fretless neck, one fretted neck). My second recording, Raizes & Influencias (Roots & Influences), was released in 2000. It's an acoustic recording in which I play acoustic bass guitar, piccolo bass, and 4-string bass. The concept behind this project was to combine my roots (Brazilian music) and my influences (American music). My third CD, Prato Da Casa (no English translation), was released in 2005, and it is a recording with one-half of the music being arrangements of Brazilian and classic jazz standards, and the other half features my own compositions with me singing. The idea here was to develop new challenges of playing standards using advanced techniques while singing simultaneously.

Are you currently working on any new projects?

I'm working with music arranged for just bass and drums. One CD will contain my own compositions with me singing, and another project will feature standards. Both recordings will contain just one bass and drums with no overdubs.

Throughout many of your compositions, you demonstrate an array of advanced tapping and slapping techniques. Can you briefly explain how you incorporate these techniques into your music?

The concept for me has always been an attempt to produce more than one voice simultaneously. I combine chord melodies with slapping as if I was playing banjo. I draw a lot of inspiration from Bela Fleck's playing with this approach. I also incorporate a lot of chordal tapping and slapping into my compositions, but before any techniques are considered, I always try to compose musical ideas within a very musical context.

As an instructor, you have released a number of instructional videos. What aspects of bass playing do you address in your methods?

I have three videos. The first video was released in 1995. It is titled Slap & Two Hands Rock, and it addresses slapping and two-handed tapping techniques. I also play four songs from my recording, Express, on it. The second video is about grooving fundamentals, and the third is about soloing fundamentals. Both of these videos really address the basics and are designed for beginning to intermediate-level players. I also play five songs from Raizes & Influencias on both of these videos. All of my videos are in Portuguese, but as soon as my English improves, I'd like to record them in English.

How can a person purchase your recordings and videos?

You can buy Raizes & Influencias on and The videos and other CD's are available from my web site,

Selected Discography

Zuzo Moussawer
Solo Recordings
Prato Da Casa
Raizes & Influencias


D'Alegria 4-String (Brazilian)

Meteoro (Brazilian)


For more information on Zuzo Moussawer, visit:

© 2006 The IIB