Seu Jorge & Almaz | Logan Square Auditorium | International | Chicago Reader

Seu Jorge & Almaz All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Tue., Aug. 3, 8 p.m. 2010

Seu Jorge has released three solid modern samba albums over the last decade, but the Brazilian singer-actor (City of God, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou) hasn't exactly been pushing the envelope, which makes his new album with the trio Almaz all the more stunning. In the spring of 2008 Jorge got together with guitarist Lucio Maia and drummer Pupillo (of Recife manguebeat pioneers Nacao Zumbi) to record a track for Walter Salles's film Linha de Passé, and they had such a blast in the studio they decided to make a full album. The group, which also includes bassist Antonio Pinto, didn't write any new material for Seu Jorge and Almaz (Now-Again), choosing instead to cover a dozen songs they found meaningful. The track list includes a few unexpected Western choices (Kraftwerk's "The Model," Michael Jackson's "Rock With You") and some lesser-known Brazilian gems by the likes of Jorge Ben, Tim Maia, Nelson Cavaquinho, and Joao Donato. Former Beastie Boys sidekick Mario Caldato produced, and he captures a wonderfully loose vibe. Strong doses of dub, psychedelic samba, and gritty rock shape the spacious, elastic performances, which casually ditch some of the melodic and rhythmic ideas of the originals. But even when Almaz turns Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell's bossa nova classic "Tempo de Amor" into a minimal dirge, the drama in Jorge's deep, rough-around-the-edges voice keeps the song utterly magnetic. Elsewhere there's a totally straight take on the Roy Ayers standard "Everybody Loves the Sunshine" and a fuzzed-out spin on "Pai Joao," a rarity by the 70s hippie collective Tribo Massai. The more I've listened to this record the more I've fallen in love with it—right now, in fact, it sounds like my favorite of the year. —Peter Margasak

Price: $25

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