Great Samba!

Raimundo Sodré (the last name is pronounced “saw-DREY”) is, fundamentally, the most important musician in Bahia...foremost of a handful of people who play a very African style of samba which predates and is a precursor to Rio-style samba, a style which could be said to be analogous to the blues in the United States (although far more rhythmic).

Bahian samba is samba-de-roda (roda is “circle”) and this samba dates back to when the Bantu slaves on Bahia's sugarcane plantations would gather into circles, clapping and singing, one slave inside the circle showing off is or her hottest moves. This was the slaves' manner of turning misery – for a short time anyway – into the sublimely elemental joy of simply being alive.

Raimundo is also heir to Luiz Gonzaga and Jackson do Pandeiro, last in a great triumvirate of masters of the moving music of the sertão), the hardscrabble backlands of Brazil's Nordeste, or Northeast).

 And DENGO is Raimundo's new record (“dengo” being a desire for affection). It is something of a culmination for Raimundo, who returned to Bahia only eight years ago after years of exile imposed when he was threatened with death after a show during which Raimundo spoke out openly against the dictatorship (in force until 1984).

 Before his exile, Raimundo was one of Brazil's brightest stars (his protest song/hit “A Massa” -- Dengo's second track – was an absolute phenomenon in Brazil in 1980) and now his star is rising again to take its right place over the Recôncavo (plantation region around the Bay of All Saints) and sertão.

 Like the blues, samba is a genre where the musicians – steeped in tradition – just get better with time, and Raimundo Sodré is now at the top of his form. He's the greatest representative of his wonderful (although dying out!) style of music, the style which would eventually develop into the national music of Brazil. Viva!