Luiz Melodia, Estação Melodia

Peter Margasak

By Peter Margasak

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
A Brazilian fusionist travels back in time to interpret classic sambas.

Luiz Melodia never attained widespread fame in Brazil, but the Rio native nonetheless developed a rabid following for his highly original fusion of samba, rock, funk and the blues, forging a darker complement to the sound of Jorge Ben. Since emerging in the early '70s, he's only made records sporadically, which makes each new release something of an event. He spent about five years working on the repertoire for Estação Melodia, his latest, trying something different and traveling back in time to interpret classic sambas mostly from the '30s, '40s and '50s, including songs by Cartola, Ismael Silva and Noel Rosa. Some tunes, such as the brisk “Linda Tereza,” cling to samba school tradition, while others such as his sole original composition, the ballad “Nós Dois,” sounds less time specific, embracing the form's rhythm and not much else. His voice is heavier and thicker than when he was young, but that allows singing to impart a gravity borne of experience into these otherwise joyful meditations.