Few Brazilian musicians have demonstrated the skill and range of singer, songwriter, and percussionist CARLINHOS BROWN. He attached pop songcraft to the thunderous drumming of a Carnaval bloco with his band Timbalada in the early 90s and tackled Portuguese fado, reggae, and many of his homeland's regional styles on the first albums under his own name. Because his latest solo outings have been weighed down with pop gloss, he's been doing his most absorbing work with side projects, including Tribalistas, a stripped-down songwriting showcase with Marisa Monte and Arnaldo Antunes. Still, he's got a reputation as a great performer, and his mastery of Brazilian rhythms--plus the presence of three drummers--should guarantee that this show outstrips his poppier recordings.
A few years ago Belize's ANDY PALACIO realized that saving the vanishing musical culture of the Garifuna--a mixed race of Africans and Arawak Indians--was more urgent than cherry-picking bits of its legacy for the slick punta rock he'd spent most of the 90s making. For Watina (Cumbancha), one of this year's best albums, he brought together legendary singer, songwriter, and guitarist Paul Nabor, who's 79, with younger musicians like Aurelio Martinez, earning the project comparisons to the Buena Vista Social Club. The music is mostly acoustic, marked by gentle Caribbean rhythms, soulful, gently imploring vocals, and elaborate but unfussy guitar patterns that create a sublime melodic filigree. The melancholy beauty of "Baba" reminds me a whole lot of Compay Segundo's signature "Chan Chan."
Carlinhos Brown headlines and Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective open. This is Brown's Chicago debut. a 6:30 PM, Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, 100 N. Michigan, 312-742-1168. F A