Alongside Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Jorge Ben Jor (AKA Jorge Ben) is one of key innovators in modern Brazilian pop. Ben Jor's music has been distinguished by its soulful, fusion-oriented take on Brazil's musical forms (most notably samba), and after the 1980s, a particular emphasis on club-friendly dance tracks. As the title of this album suggests, THE UNRELEASED SESSIONS features previously unissued versions of 12 Ben Jor compositions, all of which seem tailored to the international club scene.
While traces of high-octane samba are readily apparent ("Filho Maravilha"), the melodies here are transformed by layered synthesizers and disco-inflected drumming. Ben Jor reaches further into the idiom of contemporary electronica by flirting with trip-hop ("Dzarm") and techno ("Taj Mahal"), while the ready-made party anthem "W/Brasil" takes its cue from old-school Parliament/Funkadelic jams, complete with hand claps, burbling bass, tasty keys, and call-and-response sections. These tracks remind listeners just how far Ben Jor has traveled from his stomping ground, and how much fun he's having along the way.