Granted, compiler John Armstrong didn't get that much space in the liner notes to expound upon the thrust of this compilation. But its central pillars could well remain murky to those not immersed in early-21st century Brazilian music. That's what this 18-track compilation CD consists of; well, at least it seems like a reasonably likely guess that the songs were cut shortly before its 2004 release date, though no dates are given for individual tracks. In quite a mouthful, Armstrong writes in the notes that he "wanted to examine what was happening among those players who were committed to bridging the gap between 'serious' music and pop, but without over-resorting to Euro-American influences and always drawing on Brazil's particular musical heritage....music where Afro-Bahian and North-Eastern rhythms sit alongside roots samba, pagode and partido alto, where choro takes on the cloak of jazz and funk -- but doesn't stop being choro -- and where bossa nova takes its rightful place as just one more samba-influenced development." In layperson's terms, the CD contents might be fairly described as a cross section of contemporary Brazilian sounds drawing from numerous past and present traditions, many of the tracks having first been released locally in Rio by the Rob Digital label. It's pleasant and varied, but not too exciting or innovative. It sounds like accomplished, mature Brazilian pop music, sometimes verging on the mellow, not too bothered about keeping up with the Joneses of international electronic production gadgetry, but not too stuck in convention either. The jazz and funk influences are there, but not as upfront as the packaging might suggest. None of the tracks stand out as something worth shouting about, but the better ones include Trio Calafrio's "Partido Em Tres," which has earthier vocals than most; a live recording of Paulo Moura e Os Batutuas' "Um a Zero," which has a bouncy carnival feel that many listeners might associate with older styles of Brazilian music; Chico Buarque's smooth "Ela Desatinou"; and Carlos Malta e Pife Muderno's "O Canto da Ema," which is indeed built around vibrant fife playing.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
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