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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

VARIOUS ARTISTS

By MICHAEL COWAN
Published May 5, 2006

CAFÉ BRASIL 2
Warner Classics/WEA Brasil

Most fans of Brazilian music are no doubt familiar with the lilting sounds of bossa nova, while others savor the groundbreaking sounds of tropicália. It’s probably safe to say, however, few outside Brazil are aware of yet another rich musical tradition, choro, and that’s a shame. A precursor of samba dating back to the mid-1800s, luckily it is in the midst of a full-fledged renaissance, the fruits finally working their way into the international market. Café Brasil 2, the follow-up to 2001’s first effort, is a hugely appealing modern take on choro. Featuring a potpourri of top pop and samba stars (including Ivan Lins, Elba Ramalho, Ney Matogrosso, Beth Carvalho and Moraes Moreira), Café Brasil 2 highlights the distinctive string instruments that give choro its unmistakable allure. Highlights include Elba Ramalho’s heartfelt “Nova Ilusão,” samba superstar Zeca Pagodinho’s rollicking, syncopated version of “Bom Jesus,” and Moraes Moreira’s “O Bandolim de Jacob,” a touching homage to one of choro’s pioneers, the virtuoso mandolin player Jacob do Bandolim.