Call of the Gods (Far Out Recordings FARO 127 CD, 2008)
Like it or not, a band called the Ipanemas is bound to bring to mind that most famous of Brazilian songs about the girl from you-know-where. But these Ipanemas were around before that enduring classic swept the world, and they have a lot more on their minds than bossa nova lite. Actually, since band leaders Wilson Das Neves (vocals, percussion) and Neco (guitar) spend a good deal of time contributing musically to the careers of many Brazilian notables, there have only been five releases under the Ipanemas name since 1962.
While their sound is loosely tied to the classic bossa nova that’s been around for decades, their foundation is one of layered African percussion, jazz inflections and lyrical content inspired by the Orixas, the Yoruba-derived pantheon of deities who oversee various affairs of man and nature. Such influences were also at the heart of samba as it evolved from the Afro-indigenous candomble style, and like so much Brazilian music with ties to Africa, this excellent CD captures the best of both worlds.
The African rhythms swirl with primal grace, the melodic sweetening of guitars, bass, piano, reeds and brass is enough to please the casual-listening crowd without dampening roots that go back hundreds of years, and the vocals are so golden age they’re perfectly fresh. As Wilson states in the liner notes, “Brazilian music is religion.” I’m not about to argue. These are the most spiritually pleasing Afro-Brazilian sounds I’ve heard since the re-release of Baden Powell’s stunningly seminal Os Afro Sambas album. Any and all Brazilian music lovers are urged to seek this CD out.
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