Carlos Núñez

Alborada do Brasil

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If the mega-umbrella term "world music" makes any generic sense at all, it may just be to describe projects such as Carlos Núñez's Alborada do Brasil, a musical encounter between different folk traditions. There have been plenty of records of this kind since the mid-'80s (Paul Simon's Graceland is often deemed a pivotal moment, as it demonstrated that such efforts could also reach a massive audience), and they range from the opportunistic to the fascinating. Unquestionably, Alborada do Brasil falls into the latter category. Núñez, the world's most famous Galician gaita (bagpipe) player, spent more than a decade researching the influence of medieval Celtic music in Brazilian folklore, as it came to Brazil via the itinerant Portuguese bagpipe musicians and troubadours and -- much like every music tradition in the world -- was assimilated into the bewitching melting pot that is Brazilian music. However, such early influence was later obscured by the predominance of African music, which gave birth to Brazil's most recognizable exports, such as samba and bossa nova. Núñez concentrated his research instead on Brazilian rural, rather than urban, music, and soon discovered that the gaita fit seamlessly with genres such as forró and baiao, taking the place of the accordion or sanfona. Not content with retracing the medieval roots of rural Brazilian music, Núñez also came full circle as he incorporated into his project urban contemporary trends of Brazilian music such as electronica, funk, and hip-hop. To be sure, this is an ambitious project, but the fact that it is also and most obviously a labor of love sweeps away any traces of stilted academicism. The ultimate result is a joyful musical journey through centuries and continents, rather than a museum piece or an ethnologist's thesis. Collaboration is at the heart of this album, and Núñez could not have hoped for a better international cast, including some of the finest names in today's Brazilian musical scene such as Adriana Calcanhotto, Lenine, Carlinhos Brown, and Jaques Morelenbaum, as well as legendary escola do samba Beija-Flor, not to mention Núñez's own extraordinary musicians Niamh ní Charra, Xurxo Núñez, and Pancho Álvarez, and a special appearance by the Chieftains.