Trio Madeira Brasil

Trio Madeira Brasil and Convidados: Ao Vivo

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Even in Brazilian music, you don't need percussion to be danceable. Trio Madeira Brasil are an all-acoustic group consisting of a mandolin player, a guitarist, and a third member playing a seven-string guitar that serves a function similar to the guitarron in Mexican music or the bass in a rock & roll band. The three members interweave their parts with such casual fluidity that even their most languid pieces have an implacable forward momentum, and faster tunes like the opening "Paulista" are breathtaking in their rhythmic complexity. On a few tracks, they're joined by percussionists who do little more than amplify the beat with claves and other subtle bits. On the driving "Assanhado," this creates a hypnotic effect akin to a great samba band, but on more subtle material like the ballad "Loro," the percussion just gets in the way of the string players' mastery. It's as if Ringo Starr had added a hi-hat to "Yesterday": intrusive, unnecessary, and slightly irritating. Overall, however, this live album -- recorded in front of a seemingly rapt audience -- is an excellent showcase of Trio Madeira Brasil's skills.

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