Caetano Veloso

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The title of this CD, 'Book' in English, is an apt one, since Caetano Veloso is a walking archive of contemporary Brazilian music and culture. One of the lions of the Tropicalia movement, which mixed Western pop forms with Brazilian and acoustic with electric, Veloso has spanned it all since he emerged as a musical and political rebel in the late '60s-from samba and frevo to jazz, rock and a recent Latin album in Spanish. The scope of his musical musings is so wide it can make some of his work too discursive for these ears. But not this time out. I've been wearing out my copy of Livro, an album rich in the sensual rhythms of Veloso's native Bahia. It puts me in the kind of glazed reverie I used to feel after emerging from a great foreign film, aglow in a delicious, artistic and sensual world not my own-but, reassuringly, from somewhere on this planet. Veloso's concept was to mix the visceral African vibe of Bahia with its seeming polar opposite, the cool, muted arrangements of Gil Evans for Miles Davis. And it works in an evocative yin-yang melding. Beyond the gorgeous sambas, churning drums and tasty horn charts, the stories-and Veloso's gift for verse-draw you in, to the tale of an 85-year-old samba singer in 'Where Rio Is Most Bahian,' or to lines like this one from 'Carnival Dancers': 'I'm going to touch your hips, multiply your feet by a thousand.' Livro multiplies the artistry on display at your local CD shop by more than that. It's a seductive, imaginative work from a composer at the top of his game. Bring your popcorn. Nonesuch. FromEscape(September, 1999.) Subscriptions: $18/yr. (4 issues) from Box 462255, Escondido, CA 92046.

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