Various Artists

Pure Brazil: Samba Social Club

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Pure Brazil: Samba Social Club Review

by Chris Nickson

The title, of course, brings echoes of Buena Vista Social Club. But instead of showcasing veteran performers who've been left in the shadows, this disc focuses on the continuing Brazilian tradition of samba with tracks culled mostly from the '70s and '90s. The performers aren't those who've made the big international marquees, and for the most part there's a reason -- Zeca Pagodinho simply isn't world-class, as his tracks here illustrate, although Jorge Aragão has plenty of good qualities. However, too many here need lots of vocal backing to sound good. Much of the music will be unfamiliar to non-Brazilian ears, but good samba is always worth hearing, even the stuff that falls close to its heir, bossa nova, such as Beth Carvalho's "Tive Sim/Pranto de Poeta." This is a case where more information on the singers would have been especially welcome, and perhaps a little history of the samba from the favelas of Rio and its development from Carnaval into Brazil's dominant musical form. So Samba 101 it's not; but there's plenty to enjoy here.

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