Boston-based label Cultures of Soul is rapidly establishing a serious reputation for unearthing hard to find music and is currently involved in projects to showcase some of the lesser known musicians across boundaries. In this case, the focus is firmly on Brazil and the psychedelic and funk side to music predominantly dating from the 1970s. By far the best known song here is Emiliano Santiago’s ‘Bananeiro’ and for newcomers this will prove to be the jewel in the crown. However, there are some interesting new discoveries for this writer and they include the lovely vocals of Celia who delivers a delicious earthy samba-jazz number in ‘A hora é essa’ while in a more left-field groove comes in the shape of musician Franco (not to be confused with the giant of Congolese music of the same name) and comparisons with the great Hermeto Pacoal are inevitable on the eclectic-sounding ‘Ei Você, Psiu!’. Close vocal harmonies are a trademark of male and female groups in Brazil (MPB4 being the obvious example) and Osmar Milito e Quarteto offer up some in the classic tradition with fine acoustic guitar and percussive accompaniment on ‘América Latina’. A further illustration of samba-jazz instrumentation and collective vocals combining to wonderful effect can be heard on Trio Mocotó’s ‘Swing Sambaby’. Funk fans will marvel at Toni Tornado with two offerings featured and while ‘Aposto’ pays homage to James Brown with the Godfather of Soul’s distinctive grunts, the brassy orchestrated ‘Bochechuda’ makes for a fascinating contrast. Perhaps, the rootsier side of Brazilian music could have been illustrated more, but an early Tom Zé song, ‘Jimmy renda-se’, is, by his standards, relatively conventional, though the voice arrangements are very much his own and slightly avant-garde. Novos Baianos play some eerie keyboard and other effect sounds on the chilling psychedelic hues of ‘Juventude sexta e sábado’.
The compilation is well illustrated with excellent colourful graphics on cover with image of ‘Cristo Redentor’ and in the inner sleeve notes which, like the project as a whole, has been compiled by Greg Caz. Of interest is that the hard to find originals have been sourced from a combination of both singles and album tracks.