Growing up in my early teens I always deemed world music as irrelevant to my palate of sound, but as I got midway into my high school years I first heard the album Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Growing up around parents who are both second generation Italians themselves as well as grandparents who came off the boat themselves, I was exposed to Ol’ Blue Eyes from a very young age. But when I heard the record he cut with Jobim, I was amazed. Sure, Jobim crooned in Portuguese but it was amazing that a man like this who comes from another hemisphere could live up to Frank and then some on this album. From there on in I was taken with the music of Brazil, later scouring through music from every part of the globe to the point that would make David Byrne seem lazy (ed note: them’s fighting words!).
Enter the world of Celso Fonseca, a Brazilian native himself who invited to play in Gilberto Gil’s band as well as growing up having played alongside the rest of the rank and file of Brazil’s music community.
“O Rio Para Tras,” from his new album Rive Gauche Rio, has Fonseca’s sweet and half-buried crooning leading the way while the gentle clip-clopping beat and upright bass in “Por Acaso, Pela Tarde” adds a touch of lounge. Speaking of which, if “Feriado” doesn’t make you want to break out a cocktail, I don’t know what will. Be sure to slap on your dancing shoes, because you’ll be doing the cha-cha to “Perdi.” There is an Amazonian feel to “Delicate” where a rain sick can be heard in the background. And when was the last time you heard one of those when it wasn’t being used by some patchouli scented New Age weirdo?! Fonseca’s gentle incantation can even nearly hold a candle to that of Jobim on “Don de Fluir.”
When at first one reads something about an album from an artist who is Brazilian, they expect to see the review peppered with words like “samba,” “bossa nova,” “Tropicalia,” etc. While it is true that Rive Gauche Rio does show elements true to the music of Fonseca’s native land, one shouldn’t just boil it all down to that. Fonseca can take just about every angle of sweet pop from all around the world and make a nice stew of it. If you’re looking to get into world music, Brazil is the place to start, and this should be one of your first purchases.
Vinicius Cantuaria – Sol Na Cara
Jorge Ben – Africa Brasil
Edu Lobo – Sergio Mendes Presents Lobo