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Brazil’s music history resembles its multi-cultural existence.

Sujinho n Conti By Jackso , 2008) (Mochilla

People from Spain, Portugal, Western Africa, the Netherlands, and those indigenous to South America all influenced many of the sounds that emanate from this country. The phenomena of Brazilian jazz fusion developed in the post-Tropicalia movement and Azymuth was one of its children. The trio of keyboardist Jose Roberto Bertrami, lead/bass guitarist Alex Malheiros, and drummer/percussionist Ivan “Mamao” Conti elevated the group to stardom by producing classic albums such as “Light As A Feather,” which spawned the hit single Jazz Carnival. Otis Jackson, a.k.a. Mad Lib, is one of the most ambitious hip-hop and jazz producers of our time. The mastermind behind the solo act of Yesterday’s New Quintet, troublesome adventures of Quasimoto, and the remixing of the Blue Note catalogue is a huge Azymuth fan. Through some divine placement, both Otis Jackson and Ivan Conti were able to collaborate on Jackson Conti’s “Sujinho,” which is symmetrically beautiful. Conti displays that he has not lost any of his skills on the hand drum and tambourine, while Jackson compliments the elder statesman with his dynamic rudiments on the drums. These sessions were recorded in Rio de Janeiro and later remixed in Los Angeles. The album contains uncut dialogue between Conti and Jackson as they discuss the method of percussion for each song. Both performers add original compositions to this album and evoke previous works by Joao Danoto, Marcos Valle, Airto, Don Um Romao, and George Duke. The achievement of this endeavor is heard in the songs Papaia, Pranca de Republica, Waiting on the Corner and Casa Forte. “Sujinho” is a great introduction to the work of Azymuth, Mad Lib, and Brazilian music in general.

One of the many albums overlooked by mainstream radio

and television this summer is Lalah Hathaway’s “Self Portrait” (Stax Records). Since her debut album titled A Moment (1994), Hathaway released classics such as “Lalah Hathaway” (1996), “Outrun the Sky” (2004) and was the featured voice on Joe Sample’s “The Song Lives On” (1999). “Self Portrait” offers an unadulterated combination of thought-provoking lyrics and captivating melodies that keeps the head nodding. The opening song of the album is Let Go, an infectious groove with all the qualities of a mature lounge scene. None of these songs are extravagant, and that’s a good thing. At a time when music is over-produced in an attempt to push the extremes, “Self Portrait” finds an even-hued sound and milks it for all its worth. For Always is one of the jewels of the album, due to its ability to blend Hathaway’s voice magnificently without drowning it out with the rest of the instruments. Her voice is distinct; in fact, Hathaway is one of the few vocalists left who can show her talents in the company of a live band, such as with the track On Your Own. With the advancements in music production, true vocalism has all but become a thing of the past. However, the work on this album—thanks to the title vocalist, Rashaan Patterson, Sandra St. Victor, and Terrance Martin just to name a few—brings out all of the fine subtleties of her textured voice.

Self Portrait By Lalah Hathaway (Stax Records, 2008)

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One of the many albums overlooked by mainstream radio REVIEWS Brazil’s music history resembles its multi-cultural existence. The Green Magaz...