Various Artists

Mondo Samba

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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson

Samba is a wonderfully Brazilian form, but it's a remarkably amorphous music. Everything on this compilation is samba, but none of the tracks resemble each other, which is a testament to the artists but especially to the music. Some of the pieces are sublime, like Guinga's "Mi Menor," which is almost like chamber music in its exquisite construction. Others skip out of the speakers, such as Gal Costa's "Bahia de Todas as Contas," with its synthesized '80s blare. Mostly, however, there's subtlety afoot, as with Márcio Faraco's track, "Na Casa Do Seu Humberto," or Caetano Veloso's swaying "Onde o Rio É Mais Baiano." The plethora of styles and the artistry of the performers are staggering. Maria Bethania, for instance, is one of nature's great song interpreters, with tiny inflections and shadings in her voice, as is Gilberto Gil, who's not only a gifted writer but a wonderful singer. Brazil already has a reputation as one of the world's most musical countries; samba, it seems, is one of the most malleable of the world's music forms.

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