Airto Moreira,
Life After That
(Narada, 2003)

Although I have a definite affinity for Brazilian music, and though I've admired the talents of percussionist Airto Moreira and his wife, singer Flora Purim, ever since first encountering them on Chick Corea's Return to Forever album Light as a Feather (1973), I can't say that I've ever bought or listened to an Airto record until Life After That. One of the great things about writing for Rambles.NET, is the opportunity it provides to check out new music such as this.

Moreira includes some well-written liner notes in the CD booklet, offering good background on each song. Everything on this record is highly rhythmic, which should come as no surprise considering that drums and percussion are Moreira's stock and trade: the Brazilian musical tradition is also highly rhythmic. The title of the first track, "Ritmo Do Mundo," translates as "rhythm of the world." There are chorus-style vocals and some spoken parts, but the percussion takes lead on this track which was co-written by Moreira.

"O Tunel" is a new version of a song Moreira originally recorded on his first U.S. album back in the '70s. The new version has lyrics by Purim, sung by Moreira, who describes this as one of his favorite songs on the record. "Baba & Malonga Went Home" is so totally rhythmic that you'll feel like you are right there in the Brazilian rainforest. "Fica Mal Com Deus" was written by and is a tribute to Geraldo Vandre, described by Moreira as a "great singer, composer and political activist." Moreira says that this is one of Vandre's strongest songs and carries a beautiful message; however, that message will have to remain unknown except to those who understand the Portuguese lyrics.

"Live Solo" is something that Moreira has developed in his live sets, playing a pandeiro, which Moreira describes as a Brazilian tambourine. This could be somewhat heavy going for the casual listener, but it should have strong appeal for percussion or Brazilian culture aficionados. "Hala, Tumba & Timbal" is another triumph of rhythm, offering everything you ever wanted to know about Brazilian percussion. The pulsating groove continues on "Redland," which features Stephen Kent on didgeridoo; fans of world music or Brazilian percussion will love it.

"Mulata & Futebol" refers to the game of soccer and offers a more traditional taste of Brazilian jazz-pop. Moreira concludes the record with "Let It Out Let It In," which consists of just voices and beat boxes -- sounding sort of like Bobby McFerrin gone reggae.

Moreira produced this record, which is clearly a labor of love. He describes Life After That as "a combination of primitive tribal celebration, spiritual depth and modern beats that will make you feel the creative energy of the universe." I wouldn't disagree at all with that assessment, but I'll add that this recording has the capacity to instantly transport you to the streets of Brazil without having to actually travel any further than your nearest CD player.

- Rambles
written by William Kates
published 27 November 2004

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