Various Artists: Chill: Brazil 2.Warner Music Brasil.
Forty years ago, millions of people settled back with a cocktail and relaxed to the then-new sultry Brazilian sounds of João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The appeal of bossa nova hasn't diminished over the decades, even as the music has transmuted through the tweaks of tropicalia and electronica, and new generations of listeners have adopted the African-Portuguese mix of lilting melodies and swaying polyrhythms for their own chill-out purposes. The case for bossa nova as standard-setting lounge music of both yesteryear and today is strengthened by this second volume of Chill: Brazil—38 tunes ranging from early classics such as Jobim's "Samba de Uma Nota Só" ("One-Note Samba") to contemporary innovators Ramatis and Zuco 103. The selections were made by modern bossa star Joyce (who opens the low-key proceedings with her own "Demorô"), and engineer Marcus Vinicius gives them a tranquilizing "soft mix," so that the edgier tracks are less likely to accelerate pulse rates above the often languid tempos of the music. Some choices are almost too obvious (Bebel Gilberto's update of "So Nice") or cheesy (Zé Maria e Seu Orgão's ultraloungey "Samba do Avião"), and this is not a definitive Brazilian anthology by any means. But the two-CD set nonetheless covers an impressive gamut, peaking in performances by (among others) Milton Nascimento, Gilberto Gil, and Ramatis, featuring Rose Max, and providing a kick-back-and-bliss-out introduction to a continuum that embraces Brazilian jazz and trip-hop.
Derk Richardson is a longtime YJ contributor who also writes about popular culture for SFGate (www.sfgate.com), Acoustic Guitar magazine, and other publications.