Various ‘Far Out Strictly Samba’ (Far Out) 4/5

With the Rio carnival imminent, Far Out have wisely decided to cheer us up with some rootsy samba, several songs of which have never previously been released in this country and make this essential listening at an affordable price to boot. The fact that it has been compiled by Brazilian specialist DJ Cliffy gives this additional crediblity and there are some terrific discoveries to be heard here. Teresa Cristina is not a name familiar to most, but along with her Grupo Semente has devoted her attentions to showcasing the music of samba legend, Paulinho da Viola. The result is the beautiful ‘Foi un rio que passou en minha vida’, an album highlight. Likewise Roge is not an obvious choice, but one who clearly has a great future ahead of him as illustrated on the fabulous ‘Swingue do samba’. More familiar Brazilliance is to be found on ‘Carolina’ by Seu Jorge, by far the best known of modern samba artists. Of great interest is the solo project of Nereu with group Swing, founder of Trio Mocoto, who of course backed Jorge Ben during his classic period in the 1970s and in ‘Maria Jose’ provides an example of what became known as samba rock and later samba funk. Elza Soares typified a more commerical form of samba from the mid-1960s onwards and here is accompanied by singer-songwriter Joyce on guitar. It would be impossible to have a samba compilation without some fiery larger ensemble percussion and this compilation does not disappoint with Grupo Batuque and Dom Um and Jair de Castro on various instrumentation. In a more laid back and melodic vein is the song form of samba known as samba-cancao and somewhat surprisingly it is Wilson das Neves in his more unlikely role as vocalist with the Ipanemas who illustrates the sub-genre. Extensive sleeve notes chronicle both the origins of samba and shed light on the artists contained within.

Tim Stenhouse