One of Brazil's most influential drummers/percussionists, Nene has participated in a variety of projects. In addition to leading his own group, Nene has collaborated with jazz musicians from around the globe. A member of Hermeto Pascoal's band from 1978 to 1980 and Egberto Gismonti's band in 1980, Nene has performed and/or recorded with a lengthy list of artists, including Milton Nascimento, Cesar Camargo Mariano, Elis Regina, Edu Lobo, Claude Nougaro, Charlie Haden, Bob Moses, Steve Lacy, and Richard Galiano. His book, Brazilian Rhythms, published by Zurfluh Editions in Paris in 1988, remains the authoritative source on the subject.
A native of the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, Nene showed musical talent at a very young age. Although he began playing the accordion at the age of 12, he soon turned his attention to the drums. By his 15th birthday, he had launched his musical career. Within four years, he had advanced to a spot in Pascoal's band. After continuing his apprenticeship with Gismonti, Nene formed his own band in 1980, releasing his debut album, Bugre, two years later.
Moving temporarily to France in 1983, Nenes found himself in demand as a session player. In addition to performing with Claude Naugaro, he formed the Nene Band with three Brazilians and two Danes. Over the next decade, he divided his time between his homes in France and Brazil. He remained in neither place for long, touring with a superband featuring Gismonti, Kenny Wheeler, and Bob Moses in 1985. Although he returned to Brazil in 1986, touring and recording with Pau Brazil, he returned to France the following year and became the resident composer for the Danish National Jazz Orchestra. A tour with Gismonti, Charlie Haden, and Michel Portal in 1989 was followed by a tour of Japan with Takashi Kako, performances with the Steve Lacy Group, and a tour of Brazil with Pau Brazil the following year. Nene's skills as a composer were demonstrated by a full-length production, Opera Dos Quinhentos Anos, featuring the libretto of Naum Alves de Souza, that was presented at the Teatro Municiple in Sao Paulo in 1992. He continued to periodically renew his collaboration with Pascoal. In 1993, he performed 45 concerts in Europe with a trio that also featured Pascoal and Arismar Do Espirito Santo. The following year, he toured Europe with Pascoal and accordion player Richard Galliano. As a teacher and guest lecturer, Nenes has shared his knowledge at the Festival de Musica de Campos de Jordao and the 27th Festival de Inverno de Ouro Preto. In 1997, he performed during a second seminar of Brazilian rhythms in Belo Horizonte.