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(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SEU JORGE (Musician): (Singing in foreign language)


This is from the new album by Brazilian musician Seu Jorge. Jorge has established himself as a world music star with sold out shows on multiple continents and appearances in movies. But for his new album, Seu Jorge steps away from his solo success. He shares the marquee with the band Almaz.

Music critic Derek Rath tells us why.

DEREK RATH: It goes back�to how they all met - on the soundstage of a Walter Salles movie Linha de Passe. Almaz, as the trio is now known, and Seu Jorge had recorded one song for the film and got along so well creatively that they kept going. They found they had a lot in common. So celebrity ego went out the window, along with any notion of staying within musical categories.

Nine days later, they had an albums worth of tunes in the can.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: As you would expect, there is a Brazilian flavor to the proceedings. Almaz are also Brazilian-born. But their love of psychedelia, surf music and pop music in general is very apparent. Home base is as much Redondo Beach as Rio de Janeiro, with Seu Jorge singing in both English and Portuguese.

The music sometimes has a quasi-retro feel, both in style and content, albeit with a contemporary moodiness. Brazilian samba sways next to Michael Jacksons Rock With You, here given a delicious intimate massage.

(Soundbite of song, Rock With You)

Mr. JORGE: (Singing) Lay back and roll with my new (unintelligible), you got to feel that heat, and we gonna ride the boogie, share the beat of love. I wanna to rock with you.

RATH: While no new ground is being broken here, the groove is watertight, the chops fresh and sinewy. Its the caliber and connection of the musicians that make this album work so well.

(Soundbite of song, Cirandar)

Mr. JORGE: (Singing in foreign language)

RATH: Cirandar reveals a dexterous turn of phrase and execution that keeps it tightly focused, anchored by slightly jazzy drums and supple bass lines.

(Soundbite of song, Cirandar)

Mr. JORGE: (Singing in foreign language)

RATH: But at the core of it all is that voice, an unsettling confluence of romance and disturbance, velvet and sandpaper.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: Whether Seu Jorge may sometimes meander around notes and melodies is as relevant as a two-lane blacktop is to a panther in the forest. The band rightfully strips down the arrangements and gives him plenty of space to roam without contradiction.

(Soundbite of music)

RATH: Seu Jorge and Almaz�has the looseness of a private jam session with your favorite musicians, but with each one having a clear and equal part to play. It feels ready to be packed into the truck and taken on the road with no muss, no fuss. A double billing has never been more deserved.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: The music is from Seu Jorge and Almaz. Our reviewer is Derek Rath.

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