Because Brazil is so vast, there are numerous options when you're assembling a collection of modern Brazilian music. Do you go with the jazz-influenced pop and caressing bossa nova of Rio de Janeiro? The axé and Afro-Brazilian music of Bahia? Exuberant, accordion-driven forró? Choro? Or how about serteneja, a melancholic style that has been compared to American country music and Mexican mariachi? The options are numerous. On this decent-to-excellent collection, France's RYM Musique doesn't focus on any one style of Brazilian music exclusively. O Melhor do Brasil (which is Portuguese for "The Best of Brazil") ranges from lively Afro-Bahian sounds to lighter, more introspective bossa nova recordings -- some of which aren't by Brazilian artists. Antonio Carlos Jobim's songs are a high priority, and you'll hear his well-known standards being performed by Alaide Costa ("Insensatez"), Wanda ("Desafinado"), Joyce ("Corcovado"), Maysa ("Aqua de Beber"), and Jobim himself ("Chega de Saudade"). Recordings by Elis Regina ("A Banga do Distinto"), Chico Buarque ("Voce Não Ouviou"), and Toquinho ("1969 Aeroporto do Galeo") show how caressing Brazilian pop can be, but the CD takes a very exuberant turn with selections by Almir Guineto (whose "Caxambu" is a fine example of the African influence in Brazil), Fafa ("Fazendo Fumaca" and "Rei No Bagaco Coisas Da Vida"), and Bloco de Globo ("Festa Para Um Rei Negro Ole Le Ola La"). It would have been nice if RYM Musique had provided some liner notes and some recording dates, but even so, O Melhor do Brasil is among the many Brazilian collections that's worth obtaining.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson