Various ‘Nicola Conte Presents Viagem 2’ (Far Out) 4/5

nicola-conteThe follow-up to the critically acclaimed first volume, ‘Viagem 2’ is, if anything, an even tastier selection of classic Brazilian grooves. No Nicola Conte compilation would be complete without some instrumental Braziliance and in this case pianist Tenorio Jr. delivers the goods with the anthemic, ‘Consolacao’ and an instrumental version of ‘Simbinha’. A debuting Jose Roberto Bertrami is featured on the highly percussive ‘Kemal’ and piano trio genius comes in the shape of Tema Tres who take a leaf out of the Milton Banana trio on ‘Yema tres’. Vocalists, however, are more prominent on volume two, and particularly female singers. Moody bossas such as ‘Janinha Amanha’ typify the sound and Brazilian music aficionados will instantly recognise the song as being one immortalised by Alaide Costa. Big band arrangements compliment the tasty piano licks on the vocal version of ‘Sambinha’ by Vera and in general several of the singers will be unfamiliar and recorded on smaller labels in Brazil, hence their rarity. Vocal harmony groups of the ilk of MPB4 for the men and Quarteto Em Cy for the ladies were all the rage during the classic era and male harmonies sore on ‘Redondo sambao’, which is an uptempo samba with flute accompaniment. A left-field English language song comes near the end of the compilation on Bobby McKay’s ‘Bossa nova’, chronicling the bossa craze and its media impact in the United States. This even extended to performances at the White House for JFK. Musical proceedings end on a calming note with some big band crooning from Dick Farney and his orchestra. One might quibble at the time length under fifty minutes and at the bias towards female vocalists (though this writer would never argue against too many Brazilian women in the world!), but the quality is undeniable and counts above all.

Tim Stenhouse