The Passionate Spirit of Espirito Santo

 Sergio Benevenuto
Sergio Benevenuto
Various Artists

Musica do Espirito Santo (Secretaria da cultura/SEBRAE,/Quorum, 2008)

The Brazilian state of Espirito Santo (southeast Brazil) put together a boxed of the music from the region in 2008. Distributed at places like WOMEX, the four CD box includes styles as varies as world music, Congo, Brazilian popular music, pop and classical.

Two of the CDs attracted me right away. The first focuses on Brazilian instrumental, Jazz, World Music and Classical. The first cuts are the most interesting in this recording, featuring outstanding instrumental musicianship. Guitar quintet A Camarilha shows mesmerizing intricate guitar melodies, blending Brazilian folk idioms and classical. Sérgio Benevenuto, who graduated “Magna Cum Laude” at Boston’s Berklee College of Music (USA), blends virtuoso guitar work with the irresistible beats of Brazilian percussion. Pianist Fabiano Araújo recalls the golden era of Windham Hill acoustic instrumental music, although less melancholic since he introduces, fretless bass, frame drums and rattles. Fábio Calazans goes in  jazzier instrumental bossa direction, mixing guitars, piano, strings, flute and percussion.

One of the gems of the Brazilian instrumental, Jazz, World Music and Classical album is multi-instrumentalist Carlos Bernardo, who presents a truly compelling orchestra of stringed instruments, with many different layers. Festive and fascinating at the same time. Most of the rest of the album includes fusion jazz, straight ahead jazz, contemporary instrumental and classical pieces.

The other recording of interest to world music fans is the one dedicated to Brazilian folk music. The styles covered are Congo, Choro, Forró and Sertanejo. Congo groups are Afro-Brazilian vocal and percussion ensembles that are popular during carnival and street parades and festivals.  Meanwhile, forró presents stronger European influences. It is heavily dependent on the sound of accordions and for those not familiar with the genre, it sounds similar to American Cajun music. Choro also has European influences in its use of stringed instruments, but it also incorporates Afro-Brazilian elements, specially percussion. Sertanejo music is Brazilian country music. Musicians have adopted the American cowboy look, including cowboy hats.

The artists that stands out in the Congo, Choro, Forró and Sertanejo CD include the Congo groups, Etti, Silvio Barbieri, Forró Raiz, Laion, Mazinho do Cavaco, H2O, Alvaro Gabriel, and Chico Lessa.

Check out the music and biographies at www.musicaes.org.br

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