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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America


Published May 2, 2006

The Definitive Collection

Being the heartbeat rhythm of Brazil—and Brazil being a musical omnivore—samba has been mixed with all kinds of styles. But when you talk about funk-samba, the godfather is Jorge Benjor, who has churned out a huge catalog of Brazilian anthems. While he hasn’t garnered the critical accolades of other stars of MPB (musica popular brasileira) such as Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Benjor has been rousing stadium-sized crowds for several decades. Benjor’s pop tunes are juiced-up samba; conversely they can be enjoyed by gringos as funk tremulous with Brazilian polyrhythms. Certainly Benjor’s rhythm guitar and horn section can sound right out of Detroit, but he never leaves Rio behind. This collection has all his standards, beginning with the often-covered “Mas Que Nada,” when his music was dubbed samba esquema novo or “new style samba,” and tapering off through mid-career. The sound quality isn’t superb (due to the less than state-of-the-art recording equipment), but the buoyant, fun-loving spirit is unmistakably present.