Without a doubt, Airto put a new face on Brazilian music in the wake of the bossa nova movement, bringing back the frantic complexity of the samba translated into his own frenzied yet controlled electronic/multi-percussion idiom. Here we truly have some of the best of his early work in the U.S. as a leader for the CTI label, where Airto proves that he couldn't be suppressed even by the guiding hand of Creed Taylor. The set kicks off with a pair of great, sizzling tracks from the Free album, with Airto feverishly driving bands manned by Chick Corea on electric piano, Keith Jarrett on acoustic piano, and other American all-stars. From there, we move to the Fingers album, which features Airto's own band yet maintains virtually the same level of excitement with a deeper Brazilian streak. The rare Virgin Land, released on the CTI subsidiary Salvation, sports a different cast of characters (notably Stanley Clarke and George Duke) but again is dominated by the ebullient percussionist's propulsive drumming and scatting. Finally, we hear the two Airto tracks from the old jerry-built Deodato/Airto In Concert LP in vastly superior sound, with Airto and Flora Purim whipping up the crowd at New York's Felt Forum with a primal display of wild native vocals and pushing rhythm. Of this music, only the two tracks from Free are otherwise available on CD, so Brazilian jazz addicts ought to be running to the stores for this one.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell