Listening to this remarkable album for the first time you’ll surely be struck first by the deep, soul-piercing voice of that great Brazilian singer, Seu Jorge. Yes: he’s a singer first and foremost. Many may know him as an actor for his screen-stealing performances in the likes of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic and Fernando Meirelles’ City Of God but Seu has known since he was a child that we was destined to sing. He’s a Brazilian singer who speaks the truth through samba, to paraphrase a well-known Seu Jorge quote.
But this project is about a band: Almaz. Drummer Pupillo and guitarist Lucio Maia from the stalwart NaÃ§Ã£o Zumbi; bassist and composer Antonio Pinto from the soundstages of movies starring Seu Jorge. They came together naturally to record a song for a Walter Salles film; they enjoyed the experience so much that they recorded an entire album of music that inspired them. Songs famous within the Brazilian diaspora (Tim Maia, Jorge Ben) mesh with classic American (Roy Ayers, Michael Jackson) and European (Kraftwerk, Cane and Abel) soul songs begging for a bit of psychedelic samba. They enlisted producer and fellow Brazileiro Mario C. (Beastie Boys, Jack Johnson) to put the finishing touches on the project. Their album is both warm and dark; psychedelic and yet grounded, uplifting but at times somber. To listen to it is to join them in the studio, where the only bandleader is the music and the only agenda is to follow your heart.