Brasuka first came together as a side project, led by keyboardist and vocalist Rosana Eckert and percussionist Ricardo Bozas , from out of a Sergio Mendes tribute band. You can still hear these roots in this full-length debut. But you can also hear where and how Brasuka's sound branches out into different styles and frameworks and yet retain the warm, inviting and bright sound of their original inspiration.
Eckert's lead vocal on the title track to A Vida Com Paixão ("A Life With Passion") glows with soft yet intense romance, so much like Janis Hansen's in the original Brasil '66 ("The Look of Love" is a great example), a description offered as both comparison and compliment. Piano and keyboard parts often seem to direct the music other instruments play, just like Mendes seemed to conduct Brasil '66 through his own keyboards. Brasuka's frantic raveup through "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" to close this show places the period at the end of all this 1960s afterglow.
"Road to Hermeto" documents the first tune Brasuka composed together. Eckert's voice floats and whispers like clouds of Flora Purim through a bright, jumping melody inspired by groundbreaking Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal, while chattering percussion and rhythmic piano keep everything moving in time. Composed and sung by keyboardist Denny Robinson , "La Higuera" extends another lovely musical invitation written in piano and flute to linger in a groove as sunny and warm as a summer day and culminates in a spirited singalong over thick, pulsating percussion.
The title track bounces Portuguese vocals atop Caribbean reggae with clattering drums, and ventures through a pinwheeling electric guitar solo before winding up in another fun singalong.
But the opening "Samba Jiji" is the prototype for this set and the best place from which to start. It immediately showcases Eckert's vocal and Bozas' percussion, both steered by strong piano lines into a luscious musical ride as powerful yet smooth as a luxury vehicle. Its closing verses explode into a joyous vocal chorus shot through with saxophone improvisation, police whistles, and other party sounds. "This song best represents the band. It's based on the Partido Alto rhythm which is a different kind of samba that is modern and funky," Eckert explains. "It's danceable, and like many of our songs, has a big sing-along at the end."
"We're trying to create happy music. We want to tell stories and get people to dance. We want to bring people together."
Samba Jiji; A Vida Com Paixao; Road to Hermeto; Marakandombe; Deusa Do Meu Carnival; Reina's Song; Praia Felix;
La Higuera; Confundido; Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.