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Jorge Ben Jor

A very popular musician from Brazil, Jorge Ben Jor performs music that could be called samba-rock, mixing together Brazilian folk music with grooves from Africa. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1942, he started playing a pandeiro (a Brazilian tambourine) when he was 13 and singing in a church choir at 15. Given a guitar by his mother, he began to perform at parties and nightclubs from the age of 18, often playing his guitar like a bass. Discovered by an executive from Philips Records in 1963 when he was singing at a club, Ben Jor was quickly signed and recorded. Although influenced early on by João Gilberto, Ben Jor has a harder sound and is more rock-oriented. He had his first hit with “Mas Que Nada,” a song that became a standard in the Brazilian and jazz worlds; Sergio Mendes had a major hit record with it and it was recorded by both Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. His 1969 album Jorge Ben included his song “Pais Tropical” and his hit “Charles, Anjo 45.” A trio of albums from 1974-76, A Tabua de Esmeralda, Solta o Pavao and African Brasil, are experimental and are now considered classics. They were not big sellers at the time although his single “Taj Mahal” did well. His music became more pop-oriented in the 1990s but retained his sound and passion. Along the way Jorge Ben Jor has also had hits with “Ponta de Lança Africano (Umbabarauma),” “Fio Maravilha,” “País Tropical,” “Chove Chuva,” “Que Maravilha,” and “Amante Amado.”