By Kyle Hedlund
Brazil is renowned for its music, but I am not renowned for my taste. Discovering the sounds of this country thus posed a bit of a problem. What’s a person to do when he has no idea where to begin? If you like your music smooth and rhythmic, I have two suggestions: Putumayo’s Brasileiro collection and the Woman on Top movie soundtrack.

The Putumayo World Music organization puts out a wide range of themed musical compilations. I listened to a few at a local bookstore and ended up being impressed enough to buy Brasileiro. The first track, all-important for capturing the casual music-station listener’s interest, Silvia Torres’ Take Sarava, pulled me in with its pulsing beat. Torres is not a household name in Brazil, but many of her co-stars on Brasileiro are. Chico Buarque, Clara Nunes (who my friend says died from bad liposuction), Jorge Ben Jor, and Beth Carvalho are all well known in Brazil and abroad. This CD is a good introduction to them, yet it is does not dwell on the mainstream. It covers ground from old standards to more recent offerings, and styles from old bossa nova to newer MPB. And they save the best for last with my personal favourite, Geraldo Azevedo’s Bereker.

Bereker also appears on the soundtrack for the silly but cute Penelope Cruz movie, Woman on Top. The bossa nova here is more laid back than the tunes on the Putumayo production, but it still gets your feet tapping and your hips swaying in that infectious Brazilian way. The well-known Paulinho Moska sings almost half of the tracks, including the lissom A Flor e o Espino. Woman on Top wouldn’t be out of place in the background of your romantic candle-lit dinner. Just make sure you don’t serve feijoada.

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