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Various Artists: Red Hot & Rio

The continuing saga of the concept albums through the Red Hot Organization-benefitting AIDS research and awareness-has landed in Rio, perhaps inevitably, for Red Hot + Rio (Antilles/Verve 67:07). 1994’s jazz-meets-hip hop project Stolen Moments, Red, Hot and Cool was a mostly successful cross-genre marriage which was both adventurous and accessible. It was a head and heart affair, appealing to a wide spectrum. Likewise the Rio collection, which brings together pop musicians and native Brazilians in agreeable matchups: David Byrne and Marisa Monte’s sultry-grungy “Water March,” Antonio Carlos Jobim and Sting’s “How Insensitive,” PM Dawn and Flora Purim’s hip-hop-samba turn on “Non-Fiction Burning,” and the sonically juiced-up meeting of Cesaria Evora, Caetano Veloso and Ryuichi Sakamoto-a Brazil/Cape Verde/Japanese summit.

Oddly enough, the sum effect sounds like an extension of Tropicalismo, the revolutionary form of experimental Brazilian pop which brought together a stew of ingredients. This is culture-stitching for a good cause. For added listening, check out Nova Bossa: Red Hot on Verve, a collection of vintage, original recordings which inspired the project.

Originally Published