BOSSACUCANOVA, the Rio-based trio, is a perfect illustration of the way Brazilian musicians will happily incorporate influences from around the world and turn those elements into music that is both freshly modern and deeply, traditionally Brazilian - not to mention irresistibly danceable.
DJ Marcelinho DaLua, bassist Márcio Menescal, and keyboardist Alexandre Moreira burst onto the international dance music scene in 1999 with Revisited Classics, a collection of both new and old bossa nova songs given new life and vigor through the application of funky breakbeats, skillful turntablism, electronic manipulation, and adventurous mixology. The idea of fusing the smooth sounds of classic bossa nova recordings with up-to-the-minute electronic elements wasn't exactly brand new, but Bossacucanova's approach to Euro-Brazilian fusion was unusually respectful of their home country's traditions, putting the bossa first and the electronica second, and the international music press took notice quickly.
The trio's sophomore effort, Brasilidade, found them working with the legendary guitarist Roberto Menescal, composer of several classic bossas and a hugely influential producer and A&R man during the 1970s. (He's also Márcio's father.) On Brasilidade the band took a more organic approach to modern bossa nova, spending less time coming up with electronic adaptations of classic material and focusing more on writing new songs that could be played in a live setting. You could hear more of the band's debt to the traditional verities of Brazilian dance music, but there was still no question that they were coming up with new and better ways to get people up and out of their chairs.
Next came Uma Batida Diferente (A Different Beat), Bossacucanova's third album for Ziriguiboom/Six Degrees Records. Five years after the group's debut, the practice of combining the smooth sounds of classic bossa nova with modern electronic beats is more popular than ever. Uma Batida Diferente was recorded in the band's home base of Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, in early 2004. The band continued its well-established pattern by inviting legendary figures of Brazilian music both old and new to participate in the project. Gentle jazz, complex breakbeats, sad-but-happy melodies, sudden eruptions of funky electronica - it sounds like a recipe for the perfect party.