The Seu Jorge Songbook

The <b>Seu Jorge</b> Songbook
"We are Brazilians. It is such a big country with so many different kinds of music. In general, people around the world look at [our music as] traditional folk, or pop, or party music. Now we need to change this point of view." So declares singer/actor Seu Jorge (The Life Aquatic) about his intent for Seu Jorge and Almaz, his reflection on the Great Brazilian Songbook. Jorge's first North American release in five years unleashes Mario Caldato Jr.'s (Beastie Boys) most dubwise mixing on radical revisions of Brazilian songsmiths, alongside tropical teardowns of Michael Jackson, Roy Ayers and Kraftwerk.

Almaz came together two years ago. Jorge had long been friends with the rhythm section from Naçao Zumbi, whom he calls "the best band from Brazil over the last 20 years." The band were at the forefront of the Mangue Beat movement, a Tropicalia-like manifestation of creative expression from country's Northeast. Its influence is heavy on the sound of the Almaz.

"[Drummer] Lucio, [guitarist] Pupillo and [bassist] Antonio Pinto were working on music for Walter Salles, the director of Central Station, and the guys decided to invite me to sing a song," Jorge explains, exhibiting a far less languorous baritone than is evident in his music. "So we decided to make an album, and for nine days we went to the studio to record the whole thing," The minimal samba-reggae-psych trio arrangements bring out the melodic strengths in the songwriting and Jorge's hypnotic voice. Sometimes it goes off the rails, but when it's on, it's like the best bossa nova: equal parts words and music, mesmerizing and timeless.