Putumayo Presents Brazilian Beat - Various Artists
Brazilian Beat is the third in a new series of Putumayo compilations designed for the download. As with Latin Beat and African Beat before it, Brazilian Beat plays down the colourful pastiche which formerly adorned their packages for a crisp, easy to identify image that suits a thumbnail and a quick glance. As the introductory liner notes attest, Brazil is “a perfect musical storm, one that has been raining gifts of song and dance for hundreds of years.” The essential elements of African (brought to the country by the slave trade) Portuguese (who colonized its vastness) and the indigenous influences already in play when they got there, have created a magical foundation for musical creativity and evolution. The compilers of Brazilian Beat recognize the diversity and breadth of material that the album title implies and the notes go on to confine the territory covered in the tracks to samba soul, bossa grooves and tropicalia rhythms. Shaken out from tens of thousands of songs, the selections are intended to provide a sketch of Brazil’s current independent scene as it develops around the world. The artists represented have Brazilian music in their blood, but come from postal codes as distanced as Rome and New York. “You can go to Italy and find a hot bossa nova scene, and they have their own sound,” explains Putumayo’s longtime A&R explorer, Jacob Edgar. Many of these artists are taking a second “kick at the can”, re-animating the retro cool vibes of the 60s by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes for instance. One of the standouts on the collection features the sextet, Fino Coletivo, who revive the funky, cheesy grooves made popular by Jorge Ben in the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, being always on the cutting edge means waiting for no one. For those of us who have been trying for years to keep up, we’ve heard the electro-bossa and sambatronics before, by artists who have already made the long climb to international exposure. Divas like Bebel Gilberto, Cibelle, CeU and most recently, Sao Paulo’s stunning Luisa Maita have since traveled that road, same goes for DJ/producers Apollo Novo, DJ Dolores, Trio Mocoto and many more. Even acknowledged, veteran innovators such as Seu Jorge, Caetano Veloso and Os Mutantes have turned the corner in search of the next big Brazilian sound. As has been their forte, Putumayo once again provides a snapshot of the genre, perfect for first-time introductions, yet for all the billing as a cutting-edge collection of dissimilar expression, there’s a numbing sameness to the mix that wasn’t noticeable on either African Beat or Latin Beat. With so much opportunity to colour outside the lines, Putumayo delivers the goods safely this time around; maybe in the hope of selling more singles on the download. Brazilian Beat is a fine offering, just be aware that by the time you read this, Brazil’s music scene will have changed once more.