The Rough Guide to Samba

Born in Brazil's Bahia province, the shape-shifting carnival sound known as samba continues to retain African elements that have run through the music for hundreds of years, yet remains elastic enough

Born in Brazil's Bahia province, the shape-shifting carnival sound known as samba continues to retain African elements that have run through the music for hundreds of years, yet remains elastic enough to embrace hip-hop and other modern forms. The Rough Guide to Samba surveys its growth during the 20th century, spotlighting established stars of the genre and younger innovators who continue to retool samba. GRC Escola de Samba Vail Vai, Nelson Sargento, and newcomer Osvaldo Pereira are included; Sargento remarks of stonemason-turned-samba star Cartola, "He was a dream we had." Also worthy of note is Zizi Possi's torchy rendition of the evergreen "O Que É O Que É," with its arrangement reminiscent of the much-missed Penguin Café Orchestra. In a retail market flooded with pandering, ill-focused compilations, the "Rough Guide" series retains its air of high adventure. The discs remain a great source for new sounds; the most jaded world-music buyers will scan the booklet's fine print, searching for source album credits. Racked by DNA.—RBH