Twenty-six years between albums is no small gap, but Brazil's Trio Mocotó is no regular band. Since their split in 1975, all three have remained active in music, often at the contemporary end, and their experiences show on Samba Rock, whose first track, "Voltei Amor," is almost a manifesto for the album, mixing some very swinging samba with electronica touches and even a bit of funky vocoder singing. But, as all things old are new again, their original sound from the '60s and '70s comes across as fresh as it did originally, with plenty of Fender Rhodes piano in the mix. As well as exploring Brazilian music, old and new, there's also a nod to North America on "Kibe Cru," with its boogie-woogie piano bass, that makes you think it's about to break into a Leon Russell song, and its semi-spoken vocals a tip of the hat to rap. Still, the heart is the subtle delicacy of the samba with all three members (João Parahyba, Nereu Gargalo, and Luiz Carlos Fritz) contributing vocals, either alone or in unison. While most of the material is original, a cover of Jorge Ben's "Adelita" is driven by Fritz's jazzy guitar, with some kicking horns punctuating the percussion. "Não Sei Porque" brings in miniMoogs for a infectious '70s Brazil feel, while the instrumental "Mocotó Beat" has a smoky, blues-y groove. After so long away, most bands would be working hard to recapture a fraction of what they once had; Trio Mocotó move ahead with grace, funk, and style, as if there'd never been a break at all.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson