Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Album review: Banda Black Rio


Oberdan Magalhães' premature death in 1984 may have caused the trajectory of Banda Black Rio to falter from its promised path, but by that stage the seven-piece had already left its indelible imprint on the future of Brazilian music. The release of their debut album Maria Fumaça with its iconic sleeve marked a new era for black music in the country, riding the wave of interest in America in the talents of James Brown and Kool and the Gang to name but two.

His son William is now assuming the mantle of rekindling those funk flames thanks to a brand new album released by London-based Brazilian music fanatics Far Out Recordings. Still blurring the lines between jazz, samba, funk and soul in the original way that led the mighty Mos Def to sample them in the past, hip hop also works its way into the new mix courtesy of Mobb Deep collaborator Flame Killer on the stripped down Back to the Project

There is also room for a couple of genuine legends in the form of Elza Soares (on the delicate swing of Isabela) and the mighty Seu Jorge's dulcit tones alongside Mano Brown on Louis Lane. Oh, and closing the album are the not-inconsiderable talents of Gilberto Gil (whisperingly gently on Irerê) and Tropicalia great Caetano Veloso (the all-too-brief bossa nova track Aos Pés do Redentor). Anybody expecting the simmering power of the original line-up may be left scratching their heads at times, but as a unifying trip from Rio to New York and back via Paris, its a perfectly intriguing journey.

Words by Doug Gray

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