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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Various Artists

By Marty Lipp
Published June 23, 2008

Brazil Classics 7: What's Happening In Pernambuco
Luaka Bop

Many American fans of Brazilian music owe David Byrne and Luaka Bop a big “obrigado” for introducing them to a new world of sweet, swinging music with the Classics series. This latest set is as enjoyable, if not as revelatory, as the label’s initial collections from the late ’80s (when “world music” was still a world away). Always overshadowed by the other large cities in Brazil, Pernambuco’s capital of Recife began to emerge musically in the ’90s with the rise of “mangue beat,” invented by young musicians who sought to blend rock and hiphop with traditional hometown styles. Chico Science and Nação Zumbi led the way, bringing the sound to international audiences, but Science died tragically in a car crash just as he and the band were on the rise Nação Zumbi’s fusion of maracatu and metal continues, and is represented by “Carimbaeo” here. In recent years, performers like Otto, with his quirky electronics, have spawned a new outgrowth of Brazil’s northeastern roots, while Cabruera reinvigorates familiar rhythms with the energy of an altrock band. The more traditional and heavier sounds of the Pernambuco spectrum don’t make the cut, but this album assembles the innovators who continue to fuel the spirit of the region’s music.