Brazilian Music – A Starter Kit
The Brazilian Sound – Chris McGowan and Ricardo Pessanha. A fine introduction to the music of Brazil.
Downbeat Magazine – Frequent features on Latin American music.
Jazz Times – Ditto.
One reasonable place to start would be the three first discs of David Byrne’s compilation Brazil Classics. The first one is Beleza Tropical. Number two is the volume O Samba (which strangely features a number of songs that although good, are not samba), and the third, Forrï¿½, etc., is a highly danceable romp through the backland grooves of Northeast. These CDs are readily available in the States. The availability of the remaining discs may vary from place to place.
The following listing of artists is alphabetical – according to first name, in keeping with the tradition in Brazil (remember this when you’re looking for your favorite artist at the CD store!). At present the Brazilian record industry is in a pitiable state. Very little new music of quality is being produced. A lot of older music is being recycled on greatest hits-style collections. These can often be had for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, they usually come with very little in the way of liner notes. They can be, however, a good way to get familiar with a particular artist’s work. Many of the following artists are available on these collections.
Adriana Calcanhoto — A Fï¿½brica do Poema. Carioca pop.
Alcione — A soulful singer of samba and ballads.
Antï¿½nio Carlos Jobim — The master composer of bossa nova. Try Elis e Tom, a classic collaboration between two of Brazil’s finest, A.C. Jobim and Elis Regina.
Baden Powell — A legendary bossa nova guitarist with an African twist.
Cartola — Perhaps the greatest samba composer ever; two eponymous CDs available.
Chico Buarque — MPB.
Chico Science e Naï¿½ï¿½o Zumbi — Mangue beat music from Recife, a mix of rock and maracatu.
Clara Nunes — Among the greatest samba singers ever. A powerful voice and many references to Afro-Brazilian religion.
Djavan — MPB.
Dorival Caymmi — The Bahian legend of sea songs and sambas.
Ed Motta — Mï¿½sica para Festas, Bailes e Afins – Brazilian soul/funk.
Edu Lobo — MPB.
Egberto Gismonti — Danï¿½a das Cabeï¿½as, Sol do Meio Dia. Instrumental.
Elis Regina — Essa Mulher — To many, Brazil’s all time greatest singer.
Elizete Cardoso — A legendary singer of sambas and ballads.
The Endangered Music Project — A pair of discs remastered from Library of Congress Recordings provides a rare look at some of the sounds at the roots of Brazilian music. Recorded in the 30’s and 40’s, it isn’t easy listening, but for those with an interest in digging a little deeper, this is a gold mine. Painstakingly produced by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and Alan Jabbour, it comes with fascinating liner notes in both English and Portuguese. A labor of love.
Ernesto Nazareth — Composer of choro and maxixe.
Fï¿½tima Guedes — MPB singer and composer.
Getz/Gilberto — The Girl from Ipanema — simply a classic.
Gilson Peranzzetta — Instrumental music.
Hermeto Pascoal — Known as the “Wizard,” the father of Brazilian instrumental music.
Ilï¿½ Aiyï¿½ — 25 Anos — Bahian drum music.
Jackson do Pandeiro — Music from the Northeast of Brazil.
Jacob do Bandolim — Choro music. David Grisman produced an excellent pair of CDs by this master of the bandolim, a kind of mandolin.
Joï¿½o Bosco — MPB.
Joï¿½o Donato — Mainly instrumental. A master of simplicity.
Joï¿½o Gilberto — The man who invented the bossa nova guitar style.
Joï¿½o Nogueira — Samba.
Joe Henderson — Double Rainbow. The American jazz saxophonist interprets Jobim. Features a Brazilian and an American rhythm section. A gem.
Johnny Alf — Olhos Negros. A sophisticated pianist, singer and composer of jazz-influenced music that heavily influenced the bossa nova.
Leila Pinheiro — Catavento e Girassol. MPB.
Leny Andrade — Luz Negra (songs of Nelson Cavaquinho), Cartola. This jazz-influenced singer offers definitive interpretations of these samba giants.
Luiz Bonfï¿½ — The Bonfï¿½ Magic. Simply beautiful Brazilian guitar, Luiz’ music was a precursor to the bossa nova sound.
Marina — Registros ï¿½ Meia-Voz. Carioca pop.
Marisa Monte — Mais, Cor de Rosa e Carvï¿½o (Rose and Charcoal). MPB.
Martinho da Vila — Samba.
Mestre Ambrï¿½sio — Mangue Beat.
Milton Nascimento — MPB from Minas Gerais.
Nana Caymmi — Resposta ao Tempo. MPB.
Nelson Cavaquinho — A legendary samba composer.
Paulinho da Viola — Samba.
Paulo Moura — Instrumental music, largely choro-based.
Pixinguinha — A choro legend.
Renato Borghetti — A brilliant accordionist from the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.
Rita Lee — A pop/rock singer and composer from Sï¿½o Paulo.
Sï¿½rgio Mendes — Brasileiro, Oceano.
Tï¿½nia Maria — Taurus. Pianist and singer with a jazz influence.
Tom Zï¿½ — Brazil Classics 4. Distinctly avant-garde.
Toninho Horta — Diamond Land, Moonstone. Smooth, mainly instrumental guitar music.
Velha Guarda da Mangueira — Eponymous. Samba.
Velha Guarda da Portela — Tudo Azul. Samba. The Velhas Guardas of Mangueira and Portela represent what is most traditional in samba. They are the standard-bearers of this music at its most elemental. These two recently released discs are beautifully produced.
Villa-Lobos — Alma Brasileira. With the New World Symphony of Miami. A good introduction to the music of Brazil’s classical master.
Walter Alfaiate — Olha Aï¿½. One of the best new samba albums.
Zeca Pagodinho — Ao Vivo. Very danceable modern samba.
There, that should keep you busy for a while. Stay tuned for updates to this guide. I would be happy to hear any comments or suggestions at rioranger at hotmail dot com. Happy listening.