Gloria Estefan Brazil305
- Released: August 14, 2020
- Originally Released: 2020
- Label: Sony U.S. Latin
Audio Mixers: Emilio Estefan, Jr.; Gloria Estefan; Mauricio Guerrero.
Recording information: Crescent Moon Studios; Est£dio Ilha Dos Sapos; Est£dios Quem E Sabe; Fame's Recording Stage; L & M Music Studio; Stagg Street Studio.
Photographer: Heather Beltran.
Gloria Estefan has not released an album since 2013's Standards. In the interim, the world of Latin pop music has exploded in popularity (again). It's not uncommon to see Latin artists topping terrestrial and streaming charts and breaking YouTube viewing records. Estefan pioneered the first Latin pop explosion, paving the way for artists like Ricky Martin, Draco Rosa, and Shakira. Her best records radically fused pop, R&B, salsa, and Latin funk. Brazil305 reminds listeners that, five decades into her celebrated career, Estefan remains both a virtuoso and visionary. Years ago, she felt the African continent's connective tissue joining Cuban and Brazilian musics in her bones. She imparts that link to fans here via re-envisioned and re-recorded versions of 14 catalog hits and four new tunes, played by an enormous international cast in studios from Brazil to Greece to both North American coasts.
"Samba," is an aural manifesto; a new version of "Conga," its burning salsa meets the samba's complex polyrhythms via an army of caixa drummers, cavaquinho, whistles, and killer horn charts by La‚rcio da Costa and Anselmo Lima E Azeitona. New song "Un Nuevo Mundo" is a Spanish adaptation of Brazilian composer Gonzaguinha's "O Homem Falou." (There's also an Anglo-language version included.) Estefan recontextualizes the carnival anthem with a danzon orchestra and percussion army. Single "Cuando Hay Amor," written by Emilio Estefan, weds batucada, samba, and cha-cha, while "Tuy Y Yo" (We Are Here) is a bolero filtered through the sensuality of Brazilian jazz. Gian Marco Zignago's "Hoy" is a perfect fusion of Afro-Brazilian percussion and Afro-Cuban guaguanc¢. Set in the middle of the record are two Estefan classics: "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" is a scorching salsa jam retranslated through the seamless interplay between the percussionists, a nasty funk bass line, and maestro Luis Bonilla's dark, imposing trombone. The new take of "Mi Tierra" remains a son montuno dancefloor killer, but it's lusher, and arguably more danceable, as cavaquinhos, cuicas, jazzy strings, and truckloads of Afro-Brazilian percussion pulse through hard-swinging horns. "Hasta Siempre," always a steamy bolero, is rendered no less so here, as the Macedonian Symphony Strings create a pillowy backdrop for Azymuth drummer Luis "Mamao" Conte to conjure his percussive magic. "Get on Your Feet" retains its dance-pop hook, as layered horns, staggered cuicas, and repiniques frame Estefan's resonant singing. Closer "Magalenha" is an oft-remixed dance hit composed by Carlinhos Brown (Tribalistas). He duets with Estefan on the set's most joyous track. Driving samba and carnival rhythms meet brazenly funky horns amid call-and-response vocals and chants to carry the rhythms onto the streets. Estefan has outdone herself on Brazil305: By re-recording her hits, she illustrates the Brazil/Cuba/Africa argument, while welcoming fans along for the ride. She bridges these cultures in an inspiring, polished program that explores new sounds and contexts, while reasserting the eminently translatable appeal and transcendent power of her own music. ~ Thom Jurek