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Various Artists
O Samba & Os Sambistas
Iris Musique, France (2 CD set)

cd cover O Samba & Os Sambistas employs two definitive compact disks to bring alive the different genres and shades of samba, the staple music of Brazil. Apparently, and this is a point often missed by outsiders who view samba as a homogeneous genre, Brazilians have refined this crossbreed between African traditional, native and Portuguese styles, to fit every imaginable occasion. For instance, during a pitch soccer match between two mortal rival teams, might hear the two tracks "Olha A Virada" and "Bate Papo" performed by Bateria da Escola de Samba Mocidade. The frenzied performance on the caixas, pandeiros, and agogos produce a raw, primal, polyrhythmic music that gets the beast in you going. Notice the strong resemblance between this type of music and West African traditional drumming festivals, especially from Nigeria and Senegal.

The two tracks by Dicro, "O Politico" and "Rua Da Amargura," on the other hand, come straight out of the rugged favelas of Brazil. One is immediately struck by the rugged instrumentation of makeshift guitars, percussion and whatever else is available at the moment. That it is not polished makes it all the more beautiful.

For the refined samba, try Ellen de Lima's "O Que E, O Que E." Her exquisite voice is invitingly warm and colorful. There is a bit of jazz, a bit of soul and even polka thrown in for good measure.

O Samba & Os Sambistas teaches as much as it entertains by providing a variety of samba music: de breque (the music breaks to allow the artist to elaborate on some fine point about life), samba de gafieira, samba de roda, samba-reggae, samba de morro and the many other forms covered here. Arto Dorno provides concise liner-notes to help differentiate between the various shades. - Opiyo Oloya

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