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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2011
To me, this has all the pros and cons of the typical Soul Jazz way of compiling and presenting music...

Pros:
- The music itself is consistently excellent, a great mix of familiar and little-known, incredibly well chosen and well sequenced.
- The notes (in a thick, separate booklet) are genuinely enlightening, tying together a lot of threads and posing questions that the music answers. Also, tons of amazing photos.
- The whole thing is super-stylish, of course.

Cons:
- No discography/credits. Really? You include a huge booklet and you can't be bothered to spare two pages to tell us what albums these tracks came from, who produced them, when they came out, and who played on them? It's typical Soul Jazz, and typically infuriating.
- Soul Jazz's urge to assign a grand movement to these tracks (in this case "Bossa Nova"), some of which are quite disparate, is somewhat forced and inaccurate. If anything, these tracks document the transition from Bossa Nova to MPB, rather than straight-up Bossa...

So, what we have here is a really entertaining collection of early MPB cuts, very well documented, with some troubling inconsistencies in the title and a very annoying lack of information about the specific tracks. All in all, it's definitely a win, and well worth the time and money. The petty annoyances seem to dissipate when I put the disks on...
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 8, 2011
Soul Jazz Records is a label out of London, not to be confused with other great labels, Far Out Records or Mr. Bongo. Soul Jazz Records also has a sister store - "Sounds of the Universe" - that is certainly worth checking out if record shopping is your thing and you happen to be in London (I will always plug the small record stores... at least the ones that still exist). They have focused on different genres through the years and have an acute interest in the evolution of Brazilian music. Some of their earlier compilations were targetted at Tropicalia and Brazilian music in the 70's. Since then they have actually gone back in time with their last couple of compilations. It is a welcome approach, though as the previous reviewer notes there are some in-accuracies and details that are a little annoying about their releases.

What this is however, is a double-disc set of Brazilian music dominated from the time-frame of the mid/late sixties to the seventies. It really is a fantastic compilation of Brazilian music. I cannot go into each song, but will highlight some of them and the artists. CD one starts out impressively with Elis Regina's interpretation of "Roda", and you have additional staples and interpretations like Joao Gilberto with "O Sapo", Sergio Mendes & Bossa Rio's "Primitivo", Nara Leao with "Birimbau" (Berimbau is also available here, done by Dorival Caymmi), Elizete Cardoso's "Vida Bela", Baden Powel, and Wanda Sa. Disc two is equally impressive with more songs by Edu Lobo, Tamba 4, Pery Ribeiro, Milton nascimento and more. Many of the artists, all legends in this era of Brazilian music, have at least two titles. There is a flow to the CD and the care at which the songs were put together is really top class. Edu Lobo, one of my favorite artists, also "Aguaverde" is one of my favorite songs - incredibly moody and it captures an essence within Brazilian music that is impossible to duplicate. Finding a way to include the song here is to me, genius. These are not the standard Bossa Nova songs at all with the exception of onyl a handful of the 34 titles on display, including a wonderful version of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "O Morro Nao Tem Vez" and Tamba Trio's version of "Mas Que Nada" is also here.

There is very little downside to this. The album is more than a great collection of songs, it also has an interesting booklet that goes with many of the songs and tells a small story of the evolution and changes within the genre; helping to paint a brief picture of how intertwined music is within Brazilian culture and how the music itself can tell the story of a countries challenges, triumphs and defeats. There are also some very good pictures of the artists and moments in Brazilian history. Though there is some information left out, perhaps it is better to assume that there was not enough time for a more in-depth philosophical look at the reasons for Bossa Nova's end including what Nara Leao was going through personally at the time she declared the genre 'over' (an affair). Also, I think it is a stretch to call most of the titles "Bossa Nova" as it fits into MPB and the evolution into Tropicalia as well. And the one pager in the CD jewel case has the dates of the songs, but little else which is a massive disappointment considering how important I think it is to be aware of the various artists that contributed to the songs and how fascinating it is to see who worked with whom, and what they went on to do in their careers.

None of that is enough to truly knock the sheer quality of the music and overall product. This is the truest transitional piece in Brazilian music that I have come across and it was done extremely well. I would definitely recommend this. Certain labels, producers and artists love what they do and have an appreciation of the music and history, which is why I really like this label. I would also recommend that any potential buyers be aware that there is a full book (in addition to this) that features album covers of many of the titles featured here and additional information with one of the individuals involved in compiling it being Gilles Peterson. While it may not be completely Bossa Nova (no Astrud Gilberto, Getz, Bonfa, Almeida, etc.), the artists featured are stunning. Also, if you have this and want something similar, be sure to check out Nicola Conte's "Viagem" series released on Far Out Records. You may also like Mr. Bongo's "Brazilian Beat" series and the aforementioned Gilles Peterson's "In Brazil" series. Also, be sure to check out Soul Jazz's "Brazil Bossa Beat"! But with all of these recommendations, do be wary of any duplication of songs.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2011
Wow! I've never fallen so hard, so fast for any kinda of music. But Bossa Nova has something so deceptively cool, so ultra-romantic about it, it's irresistible. Years from now, I'll point to this album and Astrud Gilberto's Beach Samba and say "That's where I got hooked." As another reviewer says, the liner notes are not your garden variety - they are not exhaustive or particularly fact-laden. But they give you a good FEEL for the music. Bossa Nova is so emotionally charged that any analysis at all feels a bit alien, so I like Soul Jazz's basically-hands-off approach.

What about the music? The big names and the big songs are all represented, but not matched in the usual way. So Berimbau is a signature piece for Baden Powell, but is sung here by Dorival Caymmi. I don't think that was deliberate, but Soul Jazz seems obsessive about getting the most original takes, the most interesting archetypes for each class of Bossa Nova. They don't care about chronology either. They just care about presentation of the music as a whole. It feels very tight. The 34 cuts almost sound like a symphony. The core - claves, piano, acoustic guitar - holds it all together in a primordial feast.

And more than that ... just as Anthology of American Folk Music inspired dozens of genre-hopping musicians, I think this set has the potential to inspire a whole new class of musician. And who couldn't use the sunny, optimistic, yet down-to-earth romanticism of Bossa Nova these days?
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2012
I was looking for something more instrumental, and less vocal. The beat also dates the material, though it is authentic and therefore appropriate to sound like early Brazilian jazz/fusion/ bossa. It is great at what it is, but I was pulling for more guitar and ensemble.
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