Sunday, November 26, 2006

Infinito Particular by Marisa Monte (Brazil)

New York Times' review of Marisa Montes' Infinito Particular

Simple beauty isn’t enough for Marisa Monte, the Brazilian singer and songwriter who finished her United States tour on Tuesday night at the Beacon Theater. Her music was exquisite and thoughtful, as usual; her staging was arty and often distracting.

Ms. Monte has a voice that caresses every note she sings and an ear for melody, whether it’s in an old samba or a Motown-flavored rock tune. Her aspirations are large. She started her concert with the title song of one of two albums she has released simultaneously, “Infinito Particular” (Metro Blue/EMI), cooing, “Don’t get lost when you enter my private infinity” as the music glimmered serenely. She sang in darkness, with just one spotlight illuminating her face for a few moments.

Through a career that began in the late 1980s, Ms. Monte has become a star in Brazil while her music has drawn closer to home. On her early albums she looked toward jazz and soul from the United States, drawing songs from Gershwin and Marvin Gaye as well as bossa nova, and mixing rock rhythms with Brazilian ones. “Tribalistas,” her 2002 collaboration with the songwriters Carlinhos Brown and Arnaldo Antunes that became a major hit album in Brazil, often leaned toward rock.

But on “Infinito Particular” and its companion album, “Universo ao Meu Redor” (Metro Blue/EMI), Ms. Monte personalizes the Brazilian ballad, surrounding gentle tunes in untraditional yet felicitous arrangements. Her band onstage included bassoon, flugelhorn, cello and harmonica along with the traditional small samba guitar, the cavaquinho, and enough guitars and percussion for intricate picking and subtle rhythms. “Universo ao Meu Redor,” which means “Universe Around Me,” is steeped in samba, featuring Ms. Monte’s songs alongside some older tunes, like “Meu Can├írio,” that have been known around Rio de Janeiro, but not previously recorded. It’s an album of delicate, small-scale samba with songs about private longings, not the booming samba of Carnival.

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Ketukuba by Africando

The seventh album of the group Africando, Ketukuba is a tribute to the singer Gnonnas Pedro, Benin's favorite son, who sang with Africando from 1996 until his death in 2004. The title song, Ketukuba was his last recording. It also marks the arrival of a new generation of interpreters, in the form of Senegalese singers Basse Sarr and Pascal Dieng, and American salsero Joe King.

Founded in 1993 by the Senegalese producer Ibrahima Syllart, Africando is today an institution, of which the goal is to federate the black cultures through Afro-Cuban music. A history born from the meeting of some of the best singers in Senegal and many of the best Latin musicians in New York. The continuation is only one succession of successful albums in spite of the periodic changes of the initial group.
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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Chico Buarque - Brazil

Chico Buarque was born in 1944 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He passes his youth between Brazil and Italy. Influenced by the friends of his father, the historian Sergio Buarque de Holanda, he falls in love with music and more particularly with Bossa Nova. At 21 years of age, his career starts to take off. He records the single Pedro Pedreiro then written for the play Roda Viva which is prohibited by the dictatorship in Brazil in 1968. Chico Buarque makes a short stay in prison then leaves for Italy, where he stays for a year. On his return to Brazil, he signs, in 1971, the album Construcao of which two-thirds are censured. He records then Quando o Carnaval Chegar (1972), Chico Canta (1973) and Chico Buarque & Maria Bethania (1975). Chico Buarque meets Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and plays with them in the mid Seventies. In 1980, he signs Vida. After that, and amongst others, Brazil A Banda (1993), Nao Vai (1996), Chico 50 Anos (1997), As Cidades (1998) and Carioca (2006).
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Baaba Maal - Senegal

This Senegalese musician plays a music without borders. Its simple and sophisticated style touches you in the eart. Baaba Maal was born in Podor, a small village located in the banks of the Senegal river, in the border with Mauritania. Since his adolescence he integrates the group "Asly Fouta", where he learns how to play various traditional instruments. He tours through all West Africa with Mansour Seck, a friend griot. Along the concerts, from village to village, he meets the older ones which tell him the history of each region and its music. When later Baaba Maal arrives in Paris, he impregnates his music with western sonorities and finds its way. It as an complete musician that he returns to Dakar. There, he creates his group "Daande Lenol" (the Voice of the People) and releases his first album "Firin' in Fouta". For "NOMAD Soul", Baaba Maal invites several international musicians: the female vocal quartet "Screaming Orpheans", from Ireland, Robbie Shakespeare, the mythical bass player of the reggae 100% jamaïcain and Brian Eno, pioneer of rock'n'roll and experimental music. These last years, the Senegalese musician is return to his origins by developing a more acoustic music.
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