Soul Music and Funk would seem to hold a natural appeal for Brazilians, particularly with the strong mix of African-American culture and politics... But while several artists staked out their turf in the early '70s, soul music was slow to penetrate into the Brazilian mainstream. Many artists mixed funk with samba, while others preferred to keep the styles separate; still others delved miserably into disco and soft-pop soul. In the 1980s, new pop styles such as axe and sambalanco blurred these stylistic differences almost beyond meaning, as soul, reggae, soca and Afro-Brazilian percussion blended into one big party style. Later still, rap music came to Brazil, and now hip-hop, trip-hop and electronica are all integral parts of a funk-and-soul tinged musical landscape.
The earliest, classic Brazilian soul albums are hard to come by, particularly in the US, so this survey is fairly limited. Along with the albums I review below, I've also listed several albums that I've only heard of -- hopefully in the future I'll be able to track these discs down and can also offer my opinions about them. If you have some favorite albums or artists that you think should be added to this list, feel free to write me and suggest them as well...
Fernanda Abreu - see artist discography
A Filial "Quem Menos Tem E Quem Mais Oferece" (Dubas, 2007)
A Filial "$1,99" (Verge, 2008)
(Produced by Edu Lopes)
A playful, high-energy set of modern Brazilian hip-hop and baile funk, with a healthy dose of the creative, eclectic chaos of the manguebit samba-rock scene in there as well. These guys are pretty fun, and pretty cheerful and upbeat as well... They can summon up big, funky beats along with little, lo-fi larks -- if you're looking for something different and new (even by Brazilian standards) this album is definitely worth checking out.
Johnny Alf "Nos" (EMI, 1973)
A hip and swinging album from this bossa nova old-timer! Although Alf eventually settled back into a more staid, romantic mode, this disc is steeped in 'Seventies-style funk and fusion, with some pretty wicked arrangements swirling around his understated vocals. The ensemble backing him includes heavyweights such as Gilberto Gil, Egberto Gismonti, Paulo Moura, Wagner Tiso and Arthur Verocai, who are all credited with providing orchestrations, and who presumably play on the album as well. Folks who don't dig funk-fusion might want to steer clear of this (although old-fashioned bossa vocals do assert themselves as well) but if you're looking for Johnny Alf's wild side, this is a great album to track down. Recommended.
Eduardo Araujo "A Onda E Boogaloo" (Odeon, 1969)
Wow... this is pretty cool. Singer Eduardo Araujo strikes me as an artist who was kind of constantly in search of a "new sound" to latch onto. He was one of the early jovem guarda '60s teenie-bopper rockers, and got a little wiggier in the '70s... This 1969 pop-soul album is a transitional work, but one that shows he could have done quite well pursuing a career in Brazilian soul and funk... He had a much stronger sense of American-style phrasing and a stronger band than many of the self-styled "Black Rio" artists such as Cassiano and Hylton who took up the mantle in the 1970s. His secret weapon was Brazilian funk pioneer Tim Maia, who was about to bust out on his own as a solo artist on the Philips label. Maia wrote punchy new arrangements for the numerous cover tunes on here, which range from Smokey Robinson's "Same Old Song" to Arthur Conley's "Funky Street," and for whatever reason this album avoids most of the clumsiness or self-consciousness that many similar imitations of American pop frequently suffer from. Together, Araujo and Maia really "got" the magical mix of rock and soul sensibility that late '60s soul singers such as Sam & Dave or Wilson Pickett created up North. This is an unusually strong album for the style... definitely recommended!
Brazilian Soul & Funk - Letter "B"
Other Brazilian Styles
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