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Tony Mola: Samba + Samba

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The debut solo recording from Brazilian percussionist-composer Tony Mola gives you exactly what the title suggests: samba-and lots of it. If you are looking to supplement your Brazilian collection with a representation of the rich and diverse rhythms of Brazil, this may not be the disc for you. If, however, you are an avid samba enthusiast and enjoy a good dance party, Samba + Samba delivers a satisfying spin in the CD changer.

Mola’s Bahian roots are evident throughout the recording, with the majority of the songs evoking the dance-oriented nature of music for Carnaval and emphasizing the hook over the verse. Mola’s pandeiro playing is sturdy, and his tasty percussion overdubs fill in the solid rhythm section, often overshadowing the other instruments-what a surprise on an album led by a percussionist! Mola’s often bridgeless melodies are typically repetitive, but the strongest tracks avoid the pagode-infused “beer ‘n’ barbeque” samba for the mellower tempo reminiscent of slower canção sambas, such as the lovely Peixoto-Ribeiro tune “Glamour.”

While the songwriting is merely adequate on most of the tracks, one of the album’s highlights is “Os Choroes,” penned by vocalist Carlinhos Marques, which features the mandolin work of Luiz Caldas and a strong lead vocal by Marques. Samba + Samba will make a fine addition to your dance collection; just don’t look for anything lyrically deep here.