Photo: Javi Rojo
Though best known for her work as a flamenco singer, Palma de Mallorca-born Concha Buika has broadened the genre through her very personal interpretation and also by taking the music in unusual directions. In 2011, she collaborated with Anoushka Shankar on the sitarist’s genre-bending “Traveller” (Deutsche Grammophon), an album that mixed influences both from Indian and Flamenco into one package.
On her new release, “La Noche Mas Larga” (Warner Latina), Buika offers a collection of self-penned songs and a handful of covers—including a great update of Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away” that features a rollicking electric bass line by Alain Pérez that serves as a backdrop for the percussion and piano. Read the rest of this entry »
When the Beatles, the Stones and The Beach Boys started to spread the seeds of drug-addled psychedelics in the music scene in the late sixties, their influence reached musicians in South America, who reshaped and repurposed the music they heard to make it their own. One of the best-known examples of this is “Tropicalia,” a 1968 album that featured Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, Os Mutantes, Tom Ze and Nara Leao. That disc launched a groundbreaking multimedia movement that resonates to this day. Sadly, there are no tracks from that album on this interesting compilation that brings together both well-known and obscure Brazilian musicians who took on the genre and mixed it with various other sounds. Many of the tracks are rare, like “Sorriso Selvagem,” a 1966 track from The Gentlemen, a northeastern Brazilian band that disappeared without a trace but that included Ze Ramalho, a highly respected artist from that country. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Bob Wolfenson
Late trumpeter Chet Baker may have lived a troubled life all the way to his tragic death in 1988, but he left a legacy of great recordings that influenced countless musicians and fans throughout the years—his approach to singing and playing clearly informed the Bossa Nova movement in Brazil, and many standards today are immediately identified with him.
In recognition to Baker’s talent, Brazilian-born pianist Eliane Elias looks back at his storied career by giving a fresh interpretation to many tunes identified with him, mixing “cool” West Coast jazz grooves, with Brazilian-flavored tunes and some straight-ahead jazz. The album opens with the title track played in a bare-bones arrangement featuring Elias on piano and vocals, bassist (and husband) Marc Johnson and guitarist Steve Cardenas. She is joined by legendary bossa-era guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves on “There Will Never Be Another You,” which appears here as an acoustic samba. Read the rest of this entry »
Those who expected this compilation to feature the likes of Marisa Monte, Gal Costa or even newer names like Bebel Gilberto or Cibelle will be disappointed at first—this release contains none of their songs. Instead, we are presented with few names ever heard Stateside save for Luisa Maita or Mart’nalia, who have regularly toured in the US. The disc opens with Italy-based Nossa Alma Canta’s “Bossanova,” a tune that remembers the Brazilian movement that swept the world with the help of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd. The tune name recalls many familiar hits like “Wave,” “Desafinado” while playing snippets of familiar tunes via instrumental interludes. Read the rest of this entry »
Colombian pop music is well known in alternative circles thanks to the efforts of bands like Aterciopelados or individual performers like Juanes or Shakira, but the country’s traditional sounds are not as widespread, and are often confused with the ubiquitous Andean music that is played on the streets of many major American cities.
This new release from Son de Pueblo is a great document of the various musical styles played around the country, and they run the gamut from cumbias, salsas and charangas (to name a few). Their arrangements are not at all dated; for instance, “La Cumbia Cienaguera” blends traditional percussive instruments with a very funky electric bass and electric piano, and “Moliendo Café” showcases the classical and jazz influences among the band members—the track begins with a Villa-Lobos-inflected flute intro that is followed by an intricate piano solo. Read the rest of this entry »
Brooklyn-based Chicha Libre started out playing covers of obscure psychedelic songs from Peru, and on this four-song EP they come full circle with a collection of inventive takes on pop tunes reimagined into the chichi format, starting with a very personal take on the “Simpsons” that expands on the TV version by adding some improvisation and a more danceable beat. They recreate Love’s classically inspired “Alone Again Or,” as a song innovated by featuring a mariachi band in the middle section, something quite uncommon in the late sixties. They also pay tribute with “Guns of Brixton” and also include “Chicha Rica,” a song that I could not trace but I am sure comes from bandleader Olivier Conan’s treasure trove. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Sven Creutzmann
The descendants of Haitian immigrants that settled in Cuba until the late fifties, The Creole Choir of Cuba is a ten-piece ensemble of voices and percussion who sing the music of their ancestors in a highly personal manner. Singing in Creole (Haiti’s second language), their lyrics speak about their history and heritage. Some songs were written centuries ago, while others, like “Tande,” were composed to talk about the cruel years of the Duvalier regime. Read the rest of this entry »
Marcos Valle is probably best known Stateside as the writer of “Summer Samba” via its various recordings by the likes of Astrud Gilberto, Connie Francis and the Walter Wanderley Trio back in the sixties, but the fact is that he has had a very prolific (if rather erratic) career in which he has experimented with various musical genres, especially in his most creative phase in the early seventies, which has recently been rediscovered via new recordings by younger Brazilian artists like Curumin and Bebel Gilberto.
This renewed interest in Valle’s seventies output has prompted a rerelease of four of his albums, all originally released between 1970 and 1974 before he relocated to the U.S., where he lived and worked until the early eighties. These discs show his evolution both as a songwriter and a performer. Back then he took many musical risks, experimenting with sounds that were unheard of in Brazil.
The first of these is the self-titled “Marcos Valle” (1970), which was made after he returned from a brief stay in the United States. Here he still seems tied to the sounds of bossa nova-era Brazil (after all, he scored his first, and still best-known, hit in the genre), but willing to look beyond that by employing electric instruments. On “Garra” (1971), on the other hand, he seems willing to break free from the older wave with hippie anthems like “Mais de 30,” where he sings that you can’t trust “anyone over 30” while sending a heartfelt bossa-like message to his mentor Antonio Carlos Jobim with “Ao Amigo Tom.” Read the rest of this entry »
Though many new Brazilian artists have recently had a lot of attention in the international market, few actually represent samba, the country’s best-known musical genre. On this compilation from Rough Guides, we have a comprehensive sample of contemporary singers and songwriters alongside legends like Alcione and Martinho da Vila, who open the disc with a live take on “Duas Faces,” a classic song from Rio de Janeiro.
Da Vila’s daughter Mart’nalia (who has toured the US in recent years) appears on her hit “Cabide,” an uptempo tune that has a classic feel thanks to its simple organic approach. Pop singer Marisa Monte leads the “old guard” of Rio’s Portela Samba School on “Volta Meu Amor,” a heartfelt chorinho whose lyrics talk about the end of a love affair. Read the rest of this entry »
Canada-based Cuban Alex Cuba has been building a strong following in the Latin alternative and indie crowd with his mix of funk, soul and Cuban beats. The fact that he is a gifted performer with great charisma doesn’t hurt, either. Early on, he participated in showcases like the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar, and he was able to engage audiences and get them to sing along with him almost immediately—even if that was the first time anyone in the room had heard the song. Read the rest of this entry »