There is some debate regarding the origins of feijoada, the Brazilian national dish. Many assert that it was introduced by African slaves, while others claim that it has ancestral roots in Portugal. Either way, the pork and beans dish is a favorite among all types of Brazilians and served in all types of restaurants. The same thing might be said about samba, although its African origins are more than certain. However, as samba became popular in Brazil, more and more white musicians started playing it, oftentimes adding their own European or American influences. Planet Rhythm decided to put together a compilation of mainly white samba players, releasing Pure Brazil: Feijoada in 2004, with the follow-up, Pure Brazil 2: Feijoada coming out in 2006. Generally, the album is a kind of "samba lite" (basically bossa nova), but that's not to say that there's not some stirring music here. Elis Regina's version of "Bala com Bala" by João Bosco is fantastic, her rough voice gliding over quick syllables, and Jorge Ben's "Bebete Vãobora" (which has a '60s British rock feel) is a simpler song utilizing just an acoustic guitar, horns, and percussion, but has equally emotional vocals, and is very good. Toquinho e Vinicius offer a softer samba, featuring two-part harmonies, saxophones, and violins, without sacrificing the beat and feel of the song, and Chico Buarque also isn't afraid to include Western musical influences in his two songs on the album, allowing space for jazz trumpet solos and classical modes within Brazilian rhythms. Pure Brazil 2: Feijoada doesn't have some of the excitement found in other samba compilations, but it does have nice arrangements, jazzy instrumental and vocal solos, and a smooth samba sound, perfect for a Saturday afternoon spent around a bowl of feijoada and rice.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown