I am a fan of world music, a term that previously described any non-Western traditional music. The contemporary definition focuses more on the elasticity of the music, a fusion of different styles of music from around the world. World music often features distinctively non-Western ethnic instruments like the mbira (Zimbabwean hand piano) or Atabaque ( Brazilian hand drum) as just two examples out of many.
Putumayo Music is a record label founded by Dan Storper. It specializes in compilations of music from different countries and cultures. The first album release was in 1993 and since then the label has released many more albums. Typically a Putumayo World Music compilation is presented as a theme under the title “Putumayo Presents:” Putumayo’s distinctive CD covers feature the colorful art of British illustrator Nicola Heindl.
What I love about Putumayo music is its diversity. The music takes you around the world through your senses as you hear the cool sounds and swing to the beat. The songs are carefully curated and project the fusion of culture with music and art. The album covers are always a breath of fresh air. It’s a non traditional brand with an eclectic aesthetic that you can’t help but love.
Brazilian Café, the focus of this review is a Putumayo music production. I first listened to it in 2012 when I was learning the Portuguese language at the Brazilian Embassy in South Africa. I figured it would be a great way to sharpen my language skills in a relaxing and fun way outside of my classes. It is marketed as ‘Sensuous samba, bossa nova and jazz from Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador and beyond.’ It definitely didn’t disappoint. I still listen to it while cooking or on lazy mornings. It is relaxing, clean and refreshing. My favourites on this album include the upbeat Pra que pedir perdão by Ana Costan & Oswaldo Cavalo and Feliz e Triste by Ceumar. As I listen to this album I cant’t help but imagine a Brazilian café scene with the smell of freshly brewed coffee aka cafezinho and people socializing and catching up. I guess this album gives a glimpse of the Brazilian artist community projected through the diverse songs.
Visit Putumayo Music to sample the album and see their other offerings. They have many other albums for sale.
You can listen to snippets of the tracks here: Brazilian Café Playlist