Arts and Entertainment

Maybe when you are Brazil’s most revered percussionist (Vasconcelos has played with Jan Garbarek and Pat Metheny among others) you feel obliged to stretch the bashing-and-tapping-things envelope. For there doesn’t appear to be any musical reason for what sounds like underwater conga playing or, for that matter, rigorous crisp packet shaking.

Postcard from... Madrid

Album review: Harry Connick, Jr, Every Man Should Know (Sony Music)

There's something effortless about Harry Connick Jr's songwriting on Every Man Should Know, which may be a side-effect of having emulated Frank Sinatra for so long: one suspects that he even has a smoke and a Scotch to hand as he's penning the slinky jazz groove “One Fine Thing” or “Being Alone”, the track on which his Sinatra phrasing pays off best, aided by Wynton Marsalis's trumpet.

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Album: Smod, Smod (Because Music)

Smod (the acronym stands for their names Sam, Ousco, Dronsky and former member Mouzy) are a rap group from Bamako whose third album – the first to receive a UK release – is produced by Manu Chao, who first met the group when he was working on Dimanche à Bamako, by Sam's parents Amadou & Mariam.

Album: Tulipas, Efêmera (Totolo)

Brazil is most famous for its samba and bossa nova, but these days what it does best is intelligent, innovative pop music.

Album: Various artists, Bossa and the Rise of Brazilian Music (Soul Jazz)

An exemplary account of how Brazilian music found its keenest popular focus in the 1960s, as a chic, modernistic jazz-inflected pop form of remarkable stylistic integrity.

The dark side of the boys and girls from Brazil

It may have become the epitome of laid-back cool, but, as a new book relates, the bossa nova was forged in turbulence. By Ian Burrell

Album: Various artists, Oi! A Nova Musica Brasileira! (Mais um Discos)

Expectations might lead you to believe this is just another run-of-the-mill samba and bossa nova collection. Not at all.

Gilberto Gil, Royal Festival Hall, London

A veteran artist has a history. And, it could be argued, a responsibility.

Maria Bethania, Royal Festival Hall, London

Reviewed by Sue Steward

Album: Harvey Brough, Requiem in Blue (Smudged Discs)

Requiem in Blue is an ambitious, multi-disciplinary work in tribute to the composer's late brother, featuring sections of the Latin Mass in alliance with folk and jazz elements: in the opening "Introit & Kyrie", for example, Natacha Atlas's rendition of "Black Is the Colour of My True Love's Hair" presages the Latin text.

Album: Pat Metheny, Orchestrion (Nonesuch)

Conceived in the late 19th century, the orchestrion was a large contraption allowing various instruments to be played by one musician simultaneously through an ingenious series of mechanical relays.

Album: Angelique Kidjo, Õÿö (Razor & Tie/Proper)

Õÿö is Beninese diva Angelique Kidjo's celebration of her roots and influences, from early icons such as Miriam Makeba and the Togolese singer Bella Bellow to Santana – whose "Samba Pa Ti" brought the Saturday-night dances of her teenage years to romantic conclusions – and soul and funk legends such as Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin and James Brown.

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