Jorge Ben / Jorge Ben Jor

Reactivus Amor Est (Turba Philosophorum)

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Jorge Ben Jor is the master of samba-funk, and he sticks to what he knows best on this release. But there can still be a lot of variety within that genre as he more than capably shows here. The opener, "Mexe Mexe," for instance, is simply irresistible with its catchy, uplifting chorus (even if it does make you think of "Do the Hustle"), while "O Rei e Rosa Cruz" could almost have come out of the vintage Talking Heads songbook (indeed at times Jor sounds uncannily like David Byrne). "Sao e Slavos" is distinguished by a keyboard lines that meanders through the verses, and "Ze Blueman" mixes neo-techno and heavy brass. But there's a bit of everything here, from the updated- '50s ballad style on "Historia do Homem" to the slow burn of "Tupinambas." "Maria Helena" is a great workout, strong on the percussion, while the curious title track, packed with lyrics in its one-minute-and-twelve seconds, makes for an odd ending. If you like you funk leavened with air, this is definitely the place to come. You might not understand a word he sings (in Portuguese), but when the music is this eloquent, who cares?

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