Review: Brazil 45s hit the quarter century in their run and show no sign of stopping. It's an all-girl affair on this one as two hugely popular and prolific singers take a spin under Mr Bongo's spotlight. Elizabeth (often known as Elizete) lays down a steamy samba flavour that gets raunchier as the track develops. Elza, meanwhile, gets busy on a Bossa tip as a carnival of percussion and horns go toe-to-toe with her sharp, sexy staccato vocals. Powerful.
Review: Supreme musica popular Brasileira and bossa-nova vibes here on two tracks from Mr Bongo's leading Brazilian 45's lady, Claudia. "Deixa o Morro Cantar" features on Claudia's very first 7", released in 1965 by RGE Brazil. Her version of "Mas Que Nada" is said to be more of a jazzy/folk-funk take on the Ben classic. A relatively recent discovery made during the label's last trip to Brazil, Maria das Gracas Rallo was born in 1946 in Rio de Janeiro. She has become the most awarded singer outside of her home country and was most popular internationally in 1982 with the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from the musical Evita. Moreover, she has recorded over twenty albums and has amassed huge record sales throughout her successful career.
Review: Storied Latin-jazz artist, composer, producer, and DJ Nicola Conte lays down a marker for his upcoming fifth studio album Free Souls with this delightful 7" of the same name. Brandishing two gens from the album, Conte's channelling soul jazz at it's purest on the title track, with a rhythm and blues arrangement that provides the perfect backing for Bridgette Amofah's gliding vocal delivery. On the B Side, "Shades Of Joy" is equally as memorable with Marvin Parks' soft croon enveloped in the smooth double bass and horn section. On the basis of this, the forthcoming album should be one of Conte's finest yet!
Review: Nicola Conte and Gianluca Petrella follow up last year's beautiful "African Spirits / New World Shuffle" with two more lavish instrumentals. "Sun Song" lives up to its name with wave after wave of heated musicianship from the belting harmonies to the light-touch keys. "Nigeria" taps deep into the source too as it drives us through the heart of Lagos with full horns and sweeping keys. Spiritual, sun-splashed and vital.
Review: For the second salvo on Cornhusker Records, the publicity-shy crew is treating us to a quartet of re-edits starting impressively with "Easily", a floor-focused rearrangement of a slap bass, woodblock and sax-heavy chunk of jazz-funk goodness, before turning a jaunty Mizell Brothers cut into a rolling house groover. The fun continues on side B, where the sweaty percussive Hammond funk of "Launchpad" is followed by head-in-the-clouds delight "Bring It", a subtle scalpel rework of a Clavinet-sporting Blaxploitation era disco-funk workout. Given the variety and quality on show, this has the feel of a record that might stay in your "playing out" box for a while.
Review: During the 1970s, Sanifu Al Hall Jr decided to form a group dedicated to blending jazz, soul and cutting-edge electronic sounds. The brilliantly named Cosmos Dwellerz Arkestra never released any music during the period - not commercially, at least - with this fascinating 12" marking their belated debut. "Love Thoughts", which was committed to tape in 1977, is undoubtedly intergalactic, offering a spiritually-minded mix of spiraling jazz-funk synths, woozy horn solos, stoned drums and toaster-hot bass. On the flip you'll find an interesting curio: an extended 1967 radio interview with Sanifu Al Hall Jr in which he discusses his musical story and approach to life.
Review: In 1970, 23 year-old Brazilian vocalist Celia Cruz headed into the studio with legendary producer and arranger Arthur Verocai to record the first of four eponymous albums that would go on to become "MPB" classics. Here, Mr Bongo offers up a timely reissue of that highly regarded debut, a set that giddily flits between soaring, orchestrated samba-pop ("Cheia Durango Kid", "David"), sun-kissed ballads ("To Be"), tributes to the songwriting prowess of the Beatles (see "Abrace Paul McCartney", whose strings tip a wink to "Eleanor Rigby", and the brassy, up-tempo beat pop of "Lennon - McCartney") and carnival-ready workouts ("Fotograma").