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Review: Le Samba Contemporain: Samba Recordings by CPC UMES 1998-2007

Various Artists
Le Samba Contemporain: Samba Recordings by CPC UMES 1998-2007
[Frémeaux & Associés FA 5301 (2011)]

In the 1970s, a Brazilian label called Discos Marcus Pereira was created with the intention of becoming the first label devoted entirely to the history and preservation of Brazil’s musical heritage, as opposed to one that simply catered to mass-market tastes. The influential company died in 1981 with its founder’s suicide, but fifteen years later, Marcus Vinicius de Andrade, the label’s artistic director, was invited by a committee from Sao Paulo to form a new label called CPC UMES.

This two-CD, 36-track set is an excellent retrospective of the company’s extensive contribution to modern-day samba, the sensuous form of music that has become known as the prototypical music of Brazil. Although samba is traditionally associated with Rio, some of the performers on this compilation are from Sao Paulo or Bahia. The tracks are by groups such as Quinteto em Branco e Preto, as well as by mostly little-known solo artists in spite of a few exceptions such as the popular Chico Buarque and the veteran songwriter Walter Alfaiate. Several women’s voices are also featured, including Adriana Moreira, Teca Calazans, Claudia Savaget, and Dona Inah. The music is all well-produced, and the performers sound very professional, although the consistent quality of the tracks also has a downside: Those who aren’t already keen on the genre may find it to be lacking in variety.

—Paul-Emile Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)

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