Capoeira, Samba, Candomblé: Afro-Brazilian Music in Bahia is a collection of remarkable field recordings made in Reconcavo Baiano, a 60-mile long strip of fertile land that wraps around the Brazilian Bay of Todos Os Santos. The hinterland of Salvador, the capital of Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia, Reconcavo Baiano bustled with productive sugar and tobacco plantations between the 17th and 19th centuries. Reconcavo Baiano's agricultural blossoming, which was due to the labor of African slaves, led to economic prosperity for the plantation owners and their minority class of European settlers. Another, less anticipated result of the forced relocation of African slaves to Reconcavo Baiano was the creation of new and vibrant musical styles. On Capoeira, Samba, Candomblé, Afro-Brazilian music from the martial art of Capoeira, the religion of Candomblé, and the preeminent musical and dance form of samba are brought together. The CD begins with the combative and lively sounds of Capoeira. A kind of dancing marital art, the Capoeira game consist of two Capoeiristas fighting to the tune of berimbau musical bows and a variety of other percussion instruments. Next on the disc are samples of traditional sambas from Reconcavo Baiano. These roots-music sambas, which are full of singing, percussion, and string instruments, gave birth to the more stylized and popularized forms of the music found in such urban centers as Rio de Janeiro. The CD ends with a number of recordings of publicly held Candomblé ceremonies in which spiritual beings, known as Orixás, are celebrated through song and the accompaniment of spiritually significant drumbeats. All tracks on Capoeira, Samba, Candomblé were collected by Tiago de Olveira Pinto between 1983 and 1988 in Reconcavo Baiano. Released by the Berlin Phonogramm-Archive, an organization founded in 1900, the CD includes 23 pages of liner notes written by Tiago de Olveira Pinto and edited by Artur Simon. Detailed descriptions of each recording and a historical overview of the region and its musical styles are presented in the booklet, though more mention of individual performers would have been appreciated. As with all other releases from the Berlin Phonogramm-Archive, Capoeira, Samba, Candomblé: Afro-Brazilian Music in Bahia is a magnificent CD. Its presentation of music from Reconcavo Baiano demonstrates that despite the gross injustices inflicted upon slaves in such regions, African ideals proved to persevere by giving birth to new spiritual, cultural, and musical realities.
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AllMusic Review by John Vallier