Lero-Lero - Luisa Maita

Cumbancha Discovery

The appeal of this album begins with the graphics and continues on the disc inside. Luisa Maita shoots you a parted-lipped, sideways glance from Lero-Lero’s cover; a raven-haired, dark -eyed Brazilian beauty with a flower behind her ear. Oddly, the green tint which tends to make complexions look jaundiced or worse only adds to the allure. Luisa Maita is from São Paulo; a post-samba artist, decidedly different from the current crop of electro-bossa darlings. She brings the music down to street level with gritty, city-wise soul. She doesn’t appear to be trying to reinvent the wheel so much as it giving the tropical rhythms a little more traction on the interchanges and alleyways of the world’s seventh largest metropolis. And, though young and comely, she has the experience to pull it off. Her father, Amado Maita is a singer so smitten with the work of Antonio Carlos Jobim that he named all three of his daughters after songs by the bossa maestro. Growing up, her neighborhood was far removed from Mr. Rogers’. It’s home to Italian and Arab immigrants and Sao Paulo’s most traditional samba school. Maita herself is a mix of European, Jewish and Syrian Muslim heritage. From the liner notes, she attests, “(Lero-Lero’s) inspiration comes from the urban life of São Paulo, its ghettos and its people.” Lero-Lero is street slang for an informal conversation which she shares through her cool delivery and understated instrumental tones. The title’s lyrics straddle a bubbling low-mid collage of percussion and plucked accompaniment evoking another allusion to the female form; it has great hips. Hot on its heels follows Alento, a track about São Paulo’s notorious couriers, the ‘motoboys’. More Seu Jorge than Bebel Gilberto, Lero-Lero offers yet another shade in Brazil’s multi-hued palette.