This collection of vintage recordings is aimed at aficionados of Brazilian music looking to explore roots of northeastern popular music, but it is charming enough to appeal to a wider net of listeners. There's no way around it, these recordings are not near the crystal-clear sound that we are used to from today's CDs. There are virtually no aural cracklings either, but the sound is somewhat muffled and fuzzy around the edges.
These two and three-minute songs were originally intended to entertain a mass audience and they retain their buoyant, sweet charms despite the years. They are certainly not pumped up like today's axé music; there are no electronic synthesizers or beat boxes. Most of the songs explore regional rhythms, such as baiao or frevo, embellishing them with brass sections and beguiling melodies sung by the stars of the day. Though this is northeastern music, the collection ignores Salvador for the most part and focuses on the styles of Pernambuco, Ceara, Alagoas and Paraiba.
Few today may remember the performers other than Luiz Gonzaga, but the excellent liner notes give each performer's story and explain the styles in which they are playing. Certainly not for everyone, this disc allows us to take a winsome trip down memory lane, putting some swing into our steps.- Marty Lipp