A native of São Paulo, Brazil, Felipe Salles has been an active musician in the US since 1995, where he has worked and recorded with prominent jazz artists, including Randy Brecker, Paquito D’Rivera, David Liebman, Melissa Aldana, Lionel Loueke, Jerry Bergonzi, Chico Pinheiro, Magos Herrera, Sofia Rei, Yosvany Terry, Jovino Santos Neto, Oscar Stagnaro, Luciana Souza, and Bob Moses. He has toured extensively in Europe, North and South America, India and Australia, as a sideman and as a leader of his own group.
Salles is a 2018 Guggenheim Foundation Composition Fellow, a 2021 South Arts Jazz Road Creative Residency Grant Fellowship recipient, a 2015 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant winner, a 2009-2010 winner of the French American Jazz Exchange Grant, and a 2005-2006 winner of the Chamber Music America New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant Program, grants sponsored by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He was awarded First Place in the 2001 Concurso SGAE de Jazz "TETE MONTOLIU", 2001, with his composition The Return of The Chromo Sapiens.
His arrangements and compositions have been performed by some of the top groups in the world including The Metropole Orchestra, UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Amazonas Band, Helsinki Philharmonic Violas, Meta4 String Quartet, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra, New England Conservatory Jazz Orchestra, and New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, among others.
Salles has released nine critically acclaimed recordings as a leader.
Departure (Tapestry, 2012) received 4-stars from DownBeat Magazine and a place on their best albums of the year list in 2013. They noted that Salles is adept at “crafting pieces that juggle intriguing complexity with buoyant rhythms and lush colors.” JazzTimes Magazine noted that “Felipe Salles blends the visceral and the cerebral on his fascinating fifth album, infusing classical modernist strains with the buoyant rhythms of his Brazilian homeland.” Ugandan Suite (Tapestry, 2014) also earned a place on DownBeat Magazine’s best albums of the year list in 2014 and was praised by jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke: “This is one of the best progressive works I have heard in a long time. What a great blend of classical, African and Jazz music.” Varanda (Tapestry, 2017) with the Brazilian jazz collective titled The Reunion Project, also earned critical acclaim including 4.5 stars in DownBeat Magazine.
The Lullaby Project and Other Works for Large Jazz Ensemble (Tapestry, 2018) is Salles’ first large jazz ensemble recording, and was composed for and recorded by his own Interconnections Ensemble, to critical acclaim (DownBeat Magazine’s best albums of the year list in 2019).
His second large ensemble recording, the ambitious The New Immigrant Experience (Tapestry, 2020), was released as a CD/DVD set, to critical acclaim, including a 4.5 stars review from DownBeat Magazine, making the magazine’s list of best albums of 2020. He has recently released a quartet album, Tiyo’s Songs of Life (Tapestry, 2022), featuring Avery Sharpe, Zaccai Curtis and Jonathan Barber, and his third large ensemble recording, Home is Here (Tapestry, 2023). Continuing Salles' musical explorations of immigration and its challenges, Home is Here features an array of guest artists who are also immigrants: legendary saxophonist/clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera (Cuba); vocalist Sofia Rei (Argentina); saxophonist Jacques Schwarz-Bart (Guadeloupe); flugelhornist Nadje Noordhuis (Australia); vocalist Magos Herrera (Mexico); saxophonist/percussionist Yosvany Terry (Cuba); guitarist Chico Pinheiro (Brazil); and saxophonist Melissa Aldana (Chile).
Felipe Salles is a D’Addario Woodwinds Select Reeds and Conn-Selmer Saxophones Artist/Clinician. He currently leads both The Felipe Salles Group and The Felipe Salles’ Interconnections Ensemble, and works as a member of the New World Jazz Composers Octet, Kyle Saulnier's Awakening Orchestra, Alex Alvear's Mango Blue, and Gonzalo Grau's (Grammy Nominated) La Clave Secreta.
Salles has a Masters and a Graduate Diploma in Jazz Performance from New England Conservatory, and a Doctorate in Jazz Arts Advancement from Manhattan School of Music. He is a Professor of Jazz and African-American Music Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he has taught since 2010.