A musical rollercoaster from start to finish, Ritual Beating System jolts us with its abrupt mood changes, yet never really strays from a percussive Brazilian-oriented theme. After opening with the soft Brazilian pop-jazz of "Retrato Calado," Bahia Black dives into hard-edged Portuguese-language rap ("Capitao Do Asfalto") before embracing post-bop jazz on "The Seven Powers." Bahia's "all-star" lineup isn't exactly conventional -- percussionist Olodum (a highly regarded figure in Northeastern Brazil's Afro-Brazilian culture) and other Brazilian players are joined by fusion/post-bop greats Wayne Shorter (soprano sax) and Herbie Hancock (piano), as well as avant-garde explorer Henry Threadgill (flute) and George Clinton associate Bernie Worrell (organ). It takes an open-minded bunch to play something as pretty as "Guia Pro Congal" one minute and something as dissonant and abstract as the "outside" jazz number "Gwagwa O De" the next. And similarly, it will take open-minded listeners to fully appreciate this unpredictable CD.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson