MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Finally this hour, music that fuses styles of the Southern U.S. with Northeast Brazil. It's by a group called Nation Beat, four Americans and two Brazilians. The group is out with its second album called "Legends of the Preacher." Here's our reviewer, Banning Eyre.
BANNING EYRE: American and Brazilian musicians have often found common ground since jazz artists turned to bossa nova 50 years ago. But the result has never sounded quite like this.
(Soundbite of song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry")
Ms. LILIANA ARAUJO (Vocalist, Nation Beat): (Singing) Hear that lonesome whippoorwill. He sounds too blue to fly. The midnight train is whining low. I'm so lonesome I could cry. I've never seen a night so long when time goes crawling by. The moon just went behind a cloud to hide its face and cry.
EYRE: The singer channeling Hank Williams here is Liliana Araujo from Fortaleza in northeast Brazil. This region is home to a rich variety of highly rhythmic folk traditions. The most important one for Nation Beat is called maracatu, and it sounds like this.
(Soundbite of maracatu)
Ms. ARAUJO: (Singing) (Portuguese spoken)
EYRE: Nation Beat founder, drummer and percussionist Scott Kettner fell in love with this rhythm and spent nearly two years in Brazil immersing himself in it. He heard maracatu as a distant cousin of the funky backbeat used by New Orleans brass bands. And from there, the connections kept coming. That reedy fiddle is actually a Brazilian rabeca, played here by classically trained violinist Skye Steele. And listen to the way the band pivots from Southern rock back into Brazilian funk.
(Soundbite of song "Nago Nago")
EYRE: In Nation Beat's music, European, African and Latin sensibilities come together in the spirit of a Friday-night party after a week of hard work. That scenario works in both Brazilian and American contexts. But just when you start to think you've got this band figured out, they're apt to throw you a curve, like a shot of Jewish wedding music tossed into the mix.
(Soundbite of music)
EYRE: Nation Beat's sound raises provocative questions about how music evolves and changes and moves around the world. But you can ignore all that and just enjoy the sweet melodies and driving grooves. Threaded through these 15 songs is the tale of an ill-fated preacher who meets his end at the hands of a whisky-drinking outlaw. Take it as a metaphor for the risks and rewards of unexpected cultural collisions.
(Soundbite of song "A Cowboy in Brazil")
Ms. ARAUJO: (Singing) The preacher broke the law last night on Flatbush Avenue. A fiddle and a banjo tune and danced maracatu.
NORRIS: Banning Eyre is senior editor at AfroPop.org. He was reviewing the album "Legends of the Preacher" by Nation Beat.