Hermeto Pascoal is a prolific musician and composer who transcends category. Hermeto often uses unconventional instruments such as teapots, children's toys, found objects, and—sometimes, without harming them—live animals. He uses nature as a basis for his compositions, as in his Música da Lagoa, where the musicians burble water and play flutes while immersed in a lagoon. He is an energetic and virtuosic soloist who can play proficiently on almost any instrument: keyboards, button accordion, saxophone, guitar, flute, voice, various brass instruments, and various folkloric instruments. A Brazilian television broadcast from 1999 showed him soloing at one point by singing into a cup with his mouth partially submerged in water.
Hermeto's career began in 1964 with appearances on several Brazilian recordings with relatively small groups. These now-classic albums and the musicians involved (Edu Lobo, Airto Moreira, Elis Regina, César Camargo Mariano and others) established widely influential new directions in post-bossa Brazilian Jazz.
He initially came to the international public's attention through an appearance on Miles Davis' 1971 album Live/Evil, which featured Pascoal on several studio pieces (which he also composed). Davis has said that Pascoal was the most impressive musician in the world. Later collaborations involved fellow Brazilian musicians Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. From the late 1970s on he has mostly led his own groups, playing at many prestigious venues, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1979.