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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

PURE BRAZIL SERIES:

By Marty Lipp
Published September 13, 2005

Caipirinha
Universal

The Girls From Ipanema
Universal

No country's music has been collected for sampler albums more than Brazil. Of course, it's a tribute to the music's amiable beauty and lithe rhythms, but perhaps its popularity is also due to its mix of music from European, African and indigenous cultures, not to mention rock and jazz. Universal's 12-CD series, called Pure Brazil, has the twist that instead of categorizing the material by genre it assembles the music by quirky, if sometimes oblique, title-themes. Caipirinha is your basic party disc, named for the country's most famous cocktail. It starts out with a handful of dancefloor sparkplugs such as the multi-textured rhythms of "Meia Lua Inteira," written by Carlinhos Brown and performed by Caetano Veloso, and the tight, muscular funk of "Festa" from Ivete Sangalo. Things then slow down, but never get back to the energy level of the first half -- too many caipirinhas? The latter half, though, includes the tropical swing of Gilberto Gil's "Aquele Abra?" and the achingly beautiful "Sonho Meu" from Gal Costa and Maria Bethania. Unsurprisingly, The Girls From Ipanema begins with Astrid Gilberto, though not "The Girl From Ipanema" (which is on another disc). The disc then goes from classic to classic, tapping great singers like Elis Regina, Gal Costa and bossa icon Nara Leao. It's all very soft and sexy, then ends with a glimpse of the future: neo-bossa "it girl" Bebel Gilberto. Most true Brazil nuts probably already have a good number of the tunes, but the series remains a good buy for neophytes looking to have some fun with Brazilian music.