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The Next Generation: Samba Explorations
on May 29, 2013
Putumayo's Brazilian anthologies [the excellent Samba Bossa Nova; Acoustic Brazil; Brazilian Café; and the so-so Brazilian Beat] has a new member of the group, Women of Brazil, which features the younger generation of vocalists based in Brazil, Italy, Canada, and Sweden, the debut albums of several earning awards. Samba and contemporary arrangements dominate the selections. Two of the 11 singers stand out of the pack. Taking them in order, Nossa Alma Canta, who now resides in Venice, Italy, joins other Brazilians in Italy where their music has become popular. Her track includes strings, which create a slight dissonance. Graça Cunha's somewhat husky alto voice backed by a solid samba band with bandolim and surdo bass drum is followed by breathy Clara Moreno and a trombone soloist. From the Northeast to Rio and now Paris, Flavia Coelho introduces a touch of African mbira and beat. Reggae is popular in Brazil and this track fuses diverse influences, including a Parisian accordion. Magda Machado/Maquinha is one of the unusual artists here. From the inner region of Brazil, Goiàs, near Brasilia, she sings a song of Caetano Veloso; her voice is strong, crystal clear, and joyous. A trombone here also is the solo instrument. [See my review of her album Earth & Sky.] While Northeastern forró and folk tunes are among her folio, the track here of Aline Morales is a sad samba from her pen. Luísa Maita is another breathy singer; her arrangements are contemporary and urban, and marries acoustic instruments with electronica. A more traditional sound from bandolim, violão de sete chordas, surdo, and flugelhorn accompanies Julian Kehi's samba. The second star of this album, Mart'nália, the daughter of esteemed samba performers Martinho de Vila and Anália Mendoça, has in her corner Caetano Veloso and Maria Bethânia, producers of her albums. Her unusual soulful track with a jazzy electric bass will be remembered. The Scandinavian connection is Miriam Aïda, who sings a jazz-influenced tune by Jorge Ben. The final track belongs to Miriam Maria, which incorporates fado, Afro-Brazilian beats, brass and mandolin in a neotropicalism style. I like this novel direction. Thus, this pleasing compilation of women singers will introduce the listener to modern samba styles.