Pau Brasil: "Caixote 1982/2012" (Pau Brasil Music)
A massive box set -- including 8 CDs and 1 DVD -- that documents the amazing path of Pau Brasil, one of Brazil's most important instrumental groups ever; specially in a jazz-oriented form of expression, although they never did a straight-ahead jazz album a la Victor Assis Brasil neither grooved in the urban fusion of Azymuth (the only moment, in the entire box, that evokes a distant resemblance with Azymuth is a very nice version of "Bye Bye Brasil," from their 1986 album "Pindorama," a song recorded by Azymuth's keyboardist Jose Roberto Bertrami on his 1983 solo LP "Blue Wave.")
It would not also be accurate to describe Pau Brasil's brilliant career in terms of "evolution," since the group already sounded perfect on its debut self-titled album from 1983 and never followed a tried & tested formula, never repeated anything. One of Pau Brasil's founders and its official leader, virtuoso bassist Rodolfo Stroeter, always took chances by changing the band members and, hence, also the group sound on each new record.
Pau Brasil always traveled through different musical territories, merging the jazz freedom with complex harmonic structures, a huge variety of Brazilian rhythms (such as baião, xote, jongo etc, never limited to bossa nova or samba) and adventurous arrangements. Don't even dream to think to label them "fusion," because they somehow managed to escape from all labels, creating a highly personal identity and had the nerve to transmute it incessantly.
Most of the CDs -- originally released by different labels from Brazil and abroad that agreed to license their masters to this set, made possible through a partnership of Pau Brasil Music with the giant Brazilian corporation Petrobras that sponsored a deluxe limited edition of 1,500 copies -- reappear with previously unreleased bonus tracks. Some of them recorded in studio, some during gigs or radio broadcasts during promotional tours of the albums, always relating to their original content. The box also includes a 146-page booklet with lots of rare photos and extensive liner notes by renowned music critic Carlos Calado.
All albums still sound fresh and amazing, standing the test of time. Among the band members during three decades were keyboardists Nelson Ayres and Lelo Nazário (who did the impeccable digital remastering of the CDs), drummers Bob Wyatt, Azael Rodrigues, Zé Eduardo Nazário and Nenê, guitarist Paulo Bellinati, reedmen Roberto Sion and Teco Cardoso, and multi-instrumentalist/songstress (no lyrics, just wordless vocals) Marlui Miranda.
Btw, Miranda shines along with the Nazário Brothers, Teco Cardoso and Rodolfo Stroeter in a splendid DVD titled "Babel" after the album of the same name that was released in 1996. Originally taped for a TV broadcast, it's an invaluable visual document of the band at the height of its creative powers, adding indigenous instruments and moods to create an artistic masterpiece. That's universal music, folks!