05 November 2007

Antonio Adolfo, soft and funky (CD Review)

Antonio Adolfo, Brazil & Brazuka: Destiny
(Far Out Recordings)

After listening to Destiny, I felt compelled to pull out Sergio Mendes’ 2006 release Timeless. Adolfo and Mendes were contemporaries, after all, and their recent releases both hail back in some ways to that 1960s heyday of their Brazilian pop stylings. But while Mendes brought in contemporary artists – most prominently the Black Eyed Peas – to build a bridge between old and new, Adolfo takes a dramatically different approach.

Destiny eschews contemporary references, pairing the soft vocal harmonies of sisters Carol Saboya and Luisa Saboia with the gently funky guitar of Jose Carlos and Adolfo’s own keyboards, along with a rich, smooth backing of percussion, horns, and strings.

Amid the current flood of re-releases and retrospectives (not that I have anything against the better ones, mind you), it’s a fresh approach to have a musician record fresh takes of the music thatAntonio Adolfo, Brazil & Brazuka: Destiny was popular nearly a half-century ago. I’m not very familiar with Adolfo’s past work; he’s certainly not as well known as Mendes here in the US. But his productivity over the years is amazing, and has resulted in his compositions being recorded more than 500 times by artists such as Mendes, Stevie Wonder, Herb Alpert, even Earl Klugh!

Of the ten tracks on this album (or 12, if you download it from the label), my favorites may be the energetic “SOS Amazonas” [sample], “Luizão” [sample] and the “Tudo É Brasil,” which I offer below for your consideration. Alas, no lyrics or song notes are provided with the CD.

Listening to Destiny, I occasionally think of a 1970s TV theme song, or expect to hear the music morph into a rap. But I respect the decision to keep the music focused on what it is. The soft, withdrawn vocal style at first put me off with its dated feel, but I’m warming to it. Yes, it would be easy to mock this music as so much more Girl-From-Ipanema elevator schlock, but that’s only the surface. Just because an album is subdued and doesn’t include dance remixes doesn’t mean it’s not great music. If you like the more subtle aspects of Brazilian music, give this one a listen.

[mp3] Antonio Adolfo, Brazil & Brazuka: Tudo É Brasil
from the album Destiny

Antonio Adolfo's website

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