Finally Blue Note issues a Latin collection from its Italian (Italiana SPA) and Brazilian (EMI-Odeon) vaults that reveals the true diversity of its catalog and exploits some of the serious sensuous grooves that DJs have been spinning for over a decade. This is the first of three volumes, all of which feature the rarest most representative tracks from the various trends in jazz that grew out of Brazilian pop in the '60s, '70s, and even '80s. For starters, there's the mean brass swagger of Luis Amuda Perez on "Upa Neguinho," which was written by Edu Lobo. Besides being a popular dance tune (you can hear that in the opening measures), it is a masterpiece of Brazilian big band arrangement. Also featured is the stellar "Noa Noa," a trademark of Sergio Mendez. This is a tough bossa nova trio jam, with arpeggiated piano figures cutting right through the rhythms in the tune. In addition, Mandrake Som's "Beriambu" was the first to utilize in a swinging pop jazz context the use of the one string percussion instrument -- there's also a very soul-jazzy sax solo in the break. This set's full of warm, frighteningly good examples of bossa, samba, and even the MPB and Joven Guarda rhythms as they inform folk and jazz melodies and modal figures. Edu Lobo's own "Viola for a De Moda," with its sensual vocal reminiscent of Gilberto Gil at his most strident, and the Bossa 3's steaming samba "Nao Me Diga Adeus," with Luiz Carlos Vinitas' stabbing piano solo over Batacuda drums hopping and skipping over the entire track. And there is so much more, over 70 minutes in all, and this is just the first volume! Blue Brazil is the first collection for serious Brazilian jazz lovers compiled by Brazilian jazz lovers. Just get it.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek