various artists,
The Pulse of Brazil
(ARC, 2003)

This sampler from ARC music covers a lot of ground. In general, these are Brazilian pop songs, including a variety of types: choro, samba, forro/nordestina, axe and bossa.

"Aquele um" is a jazzy bossa by pianist Luiz Avelar, with a tight backup of drums and standup bass. "Caxanga" sounds traditional, with only Jorjao Carvalho's guitar for background. He also provides harmony to Andrea Montezuma on this beautiful song.

Both "O do borogodo" and "Pe do lajeiro," by Baiao De Corda, give a light, jazzy feel to traditional music. The first is played with guitars (and related instruments), flute and percussion, while the latter uses keyboards and electric bass.

"Beleza mano" is a nice presentation by Chico Cesar, who accompanies himself on guitar. There is top-notch production, including female backup vocals, percussion, and horns, without losing energy or uniqueness. "Murmurando" is performed by Conjunto Epoca de Ouro, a string and percussion group fronted by the mandolin.

"Mexe Mexe" by Banda Mapsom is a dance called a forro, more or less Brazilian polka led by an accordion. "Severina xique-xique" was a hit in 1964 for Genival Lacerda, and it still sounds very danceable with a large Latin orchestra including horns and percussion.

Some of the cuts are the type of music that you ignore when you listen to a Latin radio station in the U.S. -- or a non-Latin station, for that matter. They just do not sound that much different from everything else. The inclusion of so many different types does not make for a consistent listening experience, even though there are some good individual cuts.

This CD works best as a general introduction to Brazilian music. The accompanying booklet is very good, with short biographies of the performers and an explanation of the various types of music and dances.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 8 May 2004