The Story Behind "Flight 962"

One of the charts we have recently recorded for our upcoming CD is called “Flight 962,” an upbeat samba tune with a memorable melody and an intro that features a “busy little line”-- in the words of our pianist David Joyner. I wrote the basic version of this tune (lead sheet) sometime around 2019, and I performed it for the first time at the Jazz Under the Stars Series at PLU with my group Vianna Bergeron Brazilian Jazz, which I co-lead with my friend, saxophonist Tom Bergeron.

Dialeto Brasileiro at Pátio Havana, Buzios. Claudio Felix (drums), Wagner Trindade (bass) and Cassio Vianna (piano)

Back in 2006, while still living in Rio de Janeiro, I was teaching music, recording and performing with bossa nova and pop singers, in addition to my own Brazilian jazz group called Dialeto Brasileiro (co-led with bassist Wagner Trindade). But I wanted to further my music studies and career, and I was especially interested in writing for large ensembles, particularly jazz big bands. Unfortunately, jazz big bands are rare in Brazil. The path to come to the U.S. felt impossible: it was costly to fly to the U.S. to audition for graduate schools, and remote auditions were way more complicated than they are now. 

We had just recorded Dialeto Brasileiro's first CD in 2008 when, one night, we met Tom and Rosi Bergeron at an upscale jazz club called Patio Havana, where Wagner and I played 2-4 nights a week, in the resort town of Armação dos Búzios. 

That encounter deserves its own blog post, so I'll skip that story for now. The important thing is that both Wagner and I ended up receiving teaching assistantships to attend Western Oregon University -- where Tom was a Music faculty -- as graduate students in the Masters program.

This takes us to the American Airlines flight 962, which flies from São Paulo to Dallas-Fort Worth - the longest of our three flights from Rio de Janeiro to Portland, OR, in August of 2009. I did not write this tune on that flight. In fact, I wrote it in 2019, as a personal celebration of my 10th anniversary living in the U.S.. I think the tune captures the excitement, curiosity, and open possibilities of that pivotal moment in my life.


During the COVID pandemic, I saw the potential to expand the tune into a big band arrangement, which I did in 2021 - and boy, did I expand it! The 224-measure chart is filled with syncopation madness: both challenging and fun! My ensemble -- Cassio Vianna Jazz Orchestra – premiered the new arrangement at the 2022 Jazz Education Network Annual Conference. Fun fact: that conference took place in Dallas, TX - of all places!

Here's a picture from that performance at the JEN Conference - with David Joyner on piano!

Cassio Vianna Jazz Orchestra at the 2022 JEN Conference in Dallas, TX.

So much to be said about life's paths, "coincidences," connections, encounters, and abundant grace along the way.  




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