Master drummer Jorge Alabê grew up in Rio de Janeiro immersed in the rich musical culture of Brazil, becoming a master in samba percussion as well as in the Afro-Brazilian religious tradition of candomblé. He is an “Alabê” connected with the oldest candomblé house established in Brazil, Casa Branca; the title of “Alabê” means that he has obtained the highest level in drumming and leading of rituals in the candomblé religion and signifies deep experience and authority. Jorge played percussion with the highest level samba groups in Rio and was the rhythm director of Minas Gerais Samba School in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He has performed in recordings with Brazilian stars Milton Nascimento and Martinho da Vila and appeared on Globo TV in Brazil during 1978–1980 on the entertainment program Brasil Pandeiro.
He went on to become percussion director of the internationally known Brazilian performing group Oba Oba in 1980. During 15 years working with Oba Oba, Jorge toured with the group through Europe, Asia, South America, and the United States, including three runs at the Marquis Theater on Broadway in New York. Since 1993, Jorge has conducted workshops on samba and candomblé in the U.S.
Jorge moved to New Orleans in 1996, where he presented a series of workshops on traditional Afro-Brazilian religious drumming and dance, gave workshops in Brazilian rhythms at local universities (Tulane, Loyola, Southern universities, and various elementary schools), and worked with community organizations during Black History month. During his time in New Orleans, he worked closely with the cultural group Casa Samba, under the direction of Curtis Pierre, and built the musical and performance skills of the group, including artistic direction of their yearly participation in Mardi Gras and the New Orleans Jazz Festival and their performances throughout the year. In addition, he worked on the development of an after-school cultural arts program at Eden Park Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and for four years, 1995–1999, taught Afro-Brazilian culture for the New Orleans Recreation Department’s Teen Camp summer program, with Young Audiences, and was honored by the mayor of New Orleans for his contributions.
Since moving to the U.S., Jorge has given frequent workshops at schools and universities, and with student groups around the country, including New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Seattle, Austin, and San Antonio. In 2005, he taught for the fall semester as a visiting artist in the Department of Music at the University of Richmond. He has been the samba director of California Brazil Camp since 1997. Currently, Jorge is based in the San Francisco area and directs the samba group Grupo Samba Rio. He is developing musical and educational projects locally, while continuing to travel throughout the U.S. to perform and conduct workshops.