A wide variety of Brazilian-oriented compilations came out in the '90s, when labels turned their attention to everything from Rio bossa nova to the tropicalismo, Afro-Bahian music and accordion-driven forro of Northeastern Brazil. Spanning 1916-1945, Musique du Nordeste, Vol. 1 is a French release focusing on music that was recorded in Northeastern Brazil during the 78 Era. This compilation is as fascinating as it is diverse, and the label spotlights frevo, choro, embolada and other styles with consistently appealing results. The singers and instrumentalists heard on Musique du Nordeste are some of the most important of their time and place, including Luis Gonzaga (a seminal figure who is considered the grandfather of forro), Luperce Miranda, Adelmar Tavares, guitarist Joao Pernambuco, Jararaca & Ratinho and band leaders Nelson and Levino Ferreira. The oldest recording in the collection, Armando and Alfredo Gama's "Os Que Sofrem," goes all the way back to 1916, while the most recent is Gonzaga's infectious "O Xamengo da Guiomar," from 1945. Highly unpredictable, Musique du Nordeste ranges from fast, exuberant numbers like Miranda's "Pinao," Jararaca & Ratinho's "Accende a Luz" and Joao Frazao's "Bataiao Nava," to dramatic ballads such as Capiba's "Maria Betania" and Tavares' "Historia Triste de uma Praieira." Overall, Buda's digital remastering is impressive; the Paris-based label has done a lot to clean up these classic recordings and make them much less scratchy and noisy than they could have been. If you've enjoyed Brazilian sounds of recent decades but haven't heard anything recorded in Brazil before the '50s, check out this compilation -- it's quite a revelation.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson