Trio Bacana: Transatlântikèr

From their name choices you might not guess that the women of Trio Bacana are French, residents of an ancient walled town in Brittany. Bacana is Brazilian Portuguese slang for “cool,” and the awesome trio’s 2017 debut album was an all-Brazilian affair. Transatlântikèr is an invented word combining the oceanic highway linking France to the Americas with kèr—meaning “village” in Breton and “heart” in Réunion Creole. Cultivating their roots in samba … More Trio Bacana: Transatlântikèr

Ayom

Continents separated by geological forces are knit together again by human movement. But the case of Brazilian singer-songwriter Jabu Morales is exceptional: When she landed in cosmopolitan Barcelona she entered an atmosphere in which her strengths—radiant voice, magnetic persona, Afro-Brazilian rhythms—seemingly became superpowers, especially as they marinated in musical styles from the Mediterranean to Angola, from the Caribbean … More Ayom

Let Drum Beat: Lua Cheia

Music is a leading indicator of equality—or at least it offers a taste of what a better world might be like. Jazz, rock & roll, flamenco and cumbia are just a few examples of sounds that integrated cultures, even when hard barriers kept races and classes from mingling. Perhaps no nation is more defined by its blended musical traditions than Brazil, and few artists have stepped into the mix with more imagination and flair than the London-based ensemble … More Let Drum Beat: Lua Cheia

Flavia Coelho: DNA

Joyce’s Ulysses, Allende’s The House of the Spirits, Hugo’s Les Misérables—often a nation’s most critical and loving assessments come from its children abroad. Add to this roster DNA, the fourth album that Brazilian singer-songwriter Flavia Coelho has sent home from Paris, 12 tracks that convey the artist’s irrepressible spirit and the insight of a penetrating novel. Like her DNA, Coelho’s style palette is a glorious mix—Brazilian and Caribbean sounds … More Flavia Coelho: DNA

Roberta Sá: Giro

For better or worse the world always turns, and though the release of Roberta Sá’s Giro (Spin) predates the current global pandemic by several months, it provides a useful lens for looking back with longing and forward with hope at a universe that now seems stuck in the ice of fear, compounded by social distancing. The music reminds us that it’s a beautiful/complicated universe revolving around love—present and absent, creeping and rushing … More Roberta Sá: Giro

Sandra Portella: Banho de Fé

Samba isn’t just Brazil’s most iconic cultural symbol, it’s also a useful lens. From its roots in Africa to its emergence in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, from attracting the most talented artists to inspiring pulsing love stories, from bringing together people of different classes and races to channeling (through Carnival) every aspect of Brazilian history, it reflects and radiates countless facets of the nation’s identity and soul. On Banho de Fé (Shower of Faith) … More Sandra Portella: Banho de Fé

Diogo Nogueira: Munduê

The samba artist Diogo Nogueira has reached new heights and greater depth with his fifth solo studio album: It’s the first collection for which he wrote or co-wrote all the songs (with A-list partners, including Hamilton de Holanda and Dona Ivone Lara) and it also establishes him as a scholar. Nogueira’s family history (father a leading sambista) and the observances of the samba centennial in 2016 fueled his desire to explore the genre’s roots in Afro-Brazilian … More Diogo Nogueira: Munduê

Carminho Canta Tom Jobim

Wise is the traveler who dives into another culture without losing her own identity, who enables both visitor and host to see themselves in a new light. So it is that Carminho, a pre-eminent star of the fado renaissance, brings her made-in-Portugal voice to songs by the late Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, the patriarch of bossa nova. An invitation from Jobim’s family prompted Carminho Sings Tom Jobim, the offer including accompaniment by the master’s band—guitarist Paulo Jobim … More Carminho Canta Tom Jobim

Denise Studart: Joia Rara

Though the songs on Joia Rara (Rare Jewel) have the feel of classics, the album’s 10 tracks are actually new compositions on a debut album. In her smooth, sweet voice, Denise Studart animates the works of composer Sandor Buys—samba and other Brazilian styles—in a seamless bonding of fresh and déjà vu. Peço licença (An Offer of Samba) has an Afro-samba swing, accentuated by percussion and seven-string guitar: “My samba is for anyone who’d like … More Denise Studart: Joia Rara