So the DJ Gilles Peterson, known recently for his distinctive programmes on BBC Radio, has gathered a group of musicians together to celebrate his love of the music of Brasil. This group provides the backing tracks for singers who are famous names in Brasil - like Nana Vasconcelos, Seu Jorge, Marcos Valle, Elza Soares etc. -but who may not be so well-known over here.
Brasil is of course a massive country and the diversity of music reflects this - but we do get the distinctive batucada of the street samba style in Sambaio and Brasil Pandeiro - with percussion to the fore on many tracks - no shortage of cuica, surdo and all the instruments associated with Brasil. But several tracks are quiet and understated with gentle acoustic guitar or simple percussion patterns that offer space for the sometimes melancholic vocals. Of course many tracks are incredibly upbeat and joyous celebrations of life - but Peterson has opted for a mixture with light and shade, although it is the percussion heavy tracks that catch the ear and set your toes tapping.
The oddities are a very slow rendition of Aquarela Do Brasil, sung by Elza Soares, who only just about seems to get the words out and a version of the 80s Jazz Funk track "Southern Freeez". City of Saints is also slow, with minimal acoustic guitar background, but morphs into a bossa groove that is the kind of music people expect from Brasil. Most of this however sound fresh and bright - thanks to the energy of the percussionists and the enthusiasm of the vocalists - but the odd moment of shade just highlights this fact.
If anybody wants an introduction to the music of Brazil over the last few decades - this is it - highly recommended!