Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jorge Ben - A Tábua de Esmerelda (1974)

A lot of people will point you to Ben's 1976 record África Brasil as his ultimate musical statement to the world, and while that album is funky as all get-out; the soft and subtle tropical rhythms of A Tábua de Esmerelda are so sublime and relaxing, it's like swimming in a sea of piña coladas. From the backing vocal melodies to the swaying conga drums, bouncy basslines and strummy guitars; it's a summer album if there ever was one.

The styles explored on this album were born out of his Samba and Bossa Nova beginnings and his eventual leaning toward the Tropicália movement, and
while never becoming fully immersed in the cause (considered subversive in his native Brazil because of its opposition the the military coup of 1964, many adherents to the genre were imprisoned and sent into exile, including fellow countrymen Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.) Ben was more subtle in his opposition, instead disguising his ire and scorn for the governmental dictatorship in humor, sarcasm and satire with esoteric subject matters. While his criticisms were sometimes thinly-veiled, he was expert at toeing the lines between outspokenness and saying things that could make him "disappear" in the middle of the night.

It's a shame that more artists from Brazil (a country of 190 million people) don't get the recognition they deserve in the United States- they're a country that's just as rich with
musical styles and cultural heritage as anywhere else on Earth. Anyway; download this wonderful record right now...


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