Trio Mocotó ‘Trio Mocotó’ LP/CD (Mr Bongo) 4/5

A seasoned favourite group of Brazilian music fans and pioneers from a sub-genre that has become known as the samba rock or samba soul movement. The group comprising Luiz Carlos Fritz (Fritz Escovão), João Parahyba and Nereu Gargalo debuted in the late 1960s and first served as the backing band to Jorge Ben on some of his classic late 1960s and early 1970s recordings before they recorded a debut album for RGE in 1973. This previously hard to find original and now new re-issue finds them four years later in 1977 with an identical sound, and a formula that they have essentially maintained right up until recent years when they recorded brand new albums for Crammed Discs including, ‘Samba rock’, and, ‘Beleza! Beleza! Beleza!’. Opening up the album is the classy mid-tempo groove of, ‘Não adianta’ and one of the group’s hallmarks here is the subtle addition of brass and strings. Naturally, the three-part male harmony vocals feature heavily throughout, and they are the near equivalent of Quarteto em Cy from a male perspective. However, scratch beneath the surface and you will find multiple US influences, not least of which are some deliciously jazzy licks. On the lengthy near seven minute, ‘Dilé’, rhythm guitar starts the intro which morphs into a more laid back samba complete with a restrained male lead. In fact on, ‘Sossega Malandro’, the strong guitar influence of Wes Montgomery and protégé in the young George Benson can be heard and the brass provides a wonderful uplifting support. For those in need of a more traditional form of samba, ‘Xuxu Melão’ fits the bill, while for a faster tempo, the funk-tinged bass and discofied guitar work in close tandem on, ‘Que nega é essa’. What this writer enjoyed especially was the rapid passage from melancholia into all out samba attack and no better is this illustrated than on, ‘O meu violão’/’O my guitar’. Worthy of re-issue and a fine way to start a new year with such a positive sound.

Tim Stenhouse