Meet Rique Pantoja, a multi-talented composer, arranger, songwriter, singer and jazz pianist hailing from Rio de Janeiro. With over two decades of experience based in Los Angeles, Rique is in great demand worldwide for his outstanding work in concerts, recordings, TV and film, and advertising projects. Rique’s journey began when he moved to Boston at the young age of 19 to study at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. He then traveled to Paris to work with legendary American jazz trumpeter Chet Baker before returning to Brazil, where he quickly gained acceptance among notable artists in the Brazilian music scene such as Djavan, Milton Nascimento, Ivan Lins, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Chico Buarque, Gonzaguinha and Tim Maia. He was one of the founding members of the highly successful Cama de Gato (“Cat’s Cradle”), bestseller instrumental group 1986/87, remaining one of the outstanding Brazilian jazz groups to date. Rique has worked with many heavyweights in the international musical scene, including Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz, Yasuko Agawa, classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, Abraham Laboriel, Ernie Watts, Lee Ritenour, Frank Gambale, Alex Acuña, Kirk Whalum, Don Grusin, Brandon Fields, Justo Almario, Luis Conte, Steps Ahead – Mike Mainieri, Sadao Watanabe, and Israel Houghton to name a few. His work spans across a wide range of musical styles, including jazz, modern classical, pop, and gospel music.
Regardless of the genre, Rique’s distinctive stylings are recognizable for their cool beats, unmistakable passion, sophisticated harmonic voicings, and highly original melodic lines. In addition to his diverse portfolio, Rique has made his mark on the worldwide music scene. His tune “I Believed It” co-written with Zoë Theodorou won the prestigious Covenant Awards in Canada as “Jazz/Blues Song of the Year” in 2008. He has also composed and arranged themes and underscoring for hit TV shows, including “Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous” and “Santa Barbara,” as well as for major brands like Coca Cola, Nissan, and Pepsi Cola. The music of Rique has been featured on the soundtracks of various movies, such as Disney’s “Jungle 2 Jungle” and the biographical documentary “Let’s Get Lost,” which chronicles the life of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker. He was also part of the musical soundtrack of the animation “Rio” with Sergio Mendes and film composer John Powell.
Apart from his successful music career, Rique is also a respected music educator. He has taught for years at Southern California’s Biola University and offered workshops and master classes at various schools, including UCLA, CBU Riverside, Pepperdine University, and at NAMM for Yamaha keyboards. His involvement with different universities and training programs highlights his passion for teaching and nurturing the next generation of musicians. Rique’s remarkable talent has earned him endorsement deals with Yamaha, M-Audio, Celemony (Melodyne), and his Salseada appears on the Yamaha Drum module DTXtreme instrument line. Rique Pantoja’s diverse musical output have established him as a major figure in the music industry, both in his native Brazil and around the world.