Frevo and Other Music from Northeastern Brazil

These are some examples of the astounding musical diversity of northeastern Brazil: Bahia, Pernambuco, and their neighboring states. Maranhão, geographically-placed between the Northeast and the Amazon, is so special it has its own page...Check also our forró and viola pages and other sections of Music & Folklore too. All CDs donated to our site automatically become part of the Sheila Thomson Collection of Brazilian Culture at Florida International University in Miami.


Tony Mola, the fabulous percussionist from Salvador, Bahia, co-founder of Timbalada and founder of the Bragadá band once guided us around Salvador and we'll never forget his kindness. Tony's label in the U.S. is Blue Jackel Entertainment and they have just released his latest CD, Samba+Samba. Tony explores the many different kinds of samba, as only an experienced, extremely talented and sensitive percussionist can. It's wonderful! You owe yourself this one!
Released by Universal Music Latino, and therefore easily available in the U.S...this is a compilation of the best of Timbalada, the percussion group led by the brilliant percussionist/songwriter/social activist Carlinhos Brown.

When I grow up, I want to be like Dona Edith do Prato. At 87, she is still singing the traditional sambas de roda from the Recôncavo region of Bahia, accompanying herself on her percussion instrument of choice: a plate and knife. It's released by Biscoito Fino in Rio.
Ana Maria and Matias Moreno are a minstrel couple from the interior of Bahia...devoted to performing and preserving the musical traditions of their corner of Brazil. They just sent us eleven CDs, a homemade tour-de-force of batuque, calundu, lundu, toada, embolada, chula, bate-pé, and so on. They were kind enough to mail along some text explaining what some of these are and we're still riffling through the pages of our Dicionário do Folclore..amazing people! Moreno says they travel constantly to fairs, religious and touristic events, up and down the coast south of Salvador, and to places like Cachoeira and Santo Amaro (birthplace of Caetano Veloso). He says that he finds inspiration for his songs everywhere around him and that people love them. Having heard them, I believe it!

Post Mangue Beat

DJ Dolores, 1 Real. We figure he's being way too modest in naming his latest CD...DJ Dolores is still the best at re-inventing musical traditions from northeastern Brazil for the international electronica/dance market. Available from Crammed Discs,, Calabash Music, etc.
Cascabulho. 2004 Latin Grammy nominee. Along with Cordel below, these guys have brought the fusion between traditional and electric to new heights. My all-time favorite group.


Cordel do Fogo Encantado. Cordel do Fogo Encantado defies categorization. Amazing singing rooted on cordel and other poetic traditions from the Northeast, accompanied by unexpectedly heavy percussion and an acoustic guitar that sounds out of this world. Not-to-be-missed!

Sonic Junior from Maceió...Chico Science paved the way for this and other (r)evolutionary groups (see below). Grrreat CD, whether you choose to gyrate around the room or lounge around with your friends sipping some caipirinhas...
DJ Dolores e Orchestra Santa Massa: Contraditório, Stern's Music. Mixing electronic and traditional music, scratches and traditional rabeca...these guys wowed us! 


Pernambuco is celebrating the 100th anniversary of frevo and we found our favorite recording this year: Spok Frevo Orquestra. Great classics by Maestro Duda, Sivuca, and Hermeto Pascoal by a group that sounds contemporary and "jazzy," while firmly rooted in all the wonderful traditions of this music.


So far, we have found only two maracatu CDs, both purchased in Recife. We have a page dedicated to maracatu, but here is a little comment: there are basically two types,  maracatu de baque virado (more urban, percussion only) and maracatu de baque solto (rural; instruments are percussion and brass, especially the trombone; the rhythm is more like a march; and there are different characters, like the Caboclo de Pena and the Caboclo de Lança).

Mangue Beat

Chico Science & Nação Zumbi. The two CDs that started all this were Da Lama ao Caos and Afrociberdelia, recorded while Chico was alive. Look at it as plugged maracatu, coco, and ciranda; maracatu drums, hip-hop, funk, all in the same pot, mix it and voilà! I had been a huge fan of maracatu for a long time when these guys appeared on the scene and I fell in love right away. They're a bit loud compared to the next group...
Mestre Ambrósio, recorded in 1995. Contemporary of Da Lama ao Caos, this is the first CD of this manguebeat's "second wave" group. Named after a character in the popular Cavalo-Marinho dramatic dance, Mestre Ambrósio does an acoustic mix of very traditional rural music with urban elements, with incredible success. A super favorite of mine.


Selma do Coco: Jangadeiro. This looks like it's her own release...the queen of coco from Olinda, Pernambuco.


Lia de Itamaracá: Eu Sou Lia, RD032. One of my favorite dances from Pernambuco. I've been known to dance in the living-room by myself...See our ciranda nordestina page. 

Repente Nordestino

Caju & Castanha: Vindo Lá da Lagoa, Trama T050/153.2  These guys are la crème de la crème, the kings of embolada. Lenine, Chico César, Chico Lobo are fans and so are we...huge. Beware: this is one of those where a solid knowledge of Portuguese is a must, though.


Mestre Salustiano: Sonho da Rabeca. Northeastern Brazil has a tremendous fiddling tradition and Mestre Salustiano was among the greatest. This CD is a marvelous collection of cocos, forrós de pé de serra, toadas de Cavalo Marinho and maracatus.


Pastoril's origins were the villancicos from the Iberian peninsula; they take place around Christmas. Two groups of young girls, the red and the blue, recreate a journey to Bethlehem. Along the way, they encounter several characters like the Angel, the Gipsy woman, and the Butterfly. Rhythms are Brazilian waltz, maxixe, and marchinha.


Espetáculos Populares de Pernambuco. Book and CD from Editora Bagaço in Recife. Can be found in bookstores, airport gift shops, etc. Quality of graphics is so-so, but content is superb: maracatu de baque virado, maracatu de baque solto, xaxado, bumba-meu-boi, reisado, coco, ciranda, pastoril, quadrilha, cavalo-marinho, fandango, caboclinho and!
Documento Sonoro do Folclore Brasileiro Vol. I, Atração Fonográfica 32017. This is a Funarte CD of folkloric groups from the northeastern states of Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba and Sergipe. It features cambinda, zabumba, congos and banda de pífanos. 

Narciso do Banjo

O Requinte de Narciso do Banjo, MC002...independent production also. Mestre Narciso do Banjo is another cultural treasure of Recife. Back in the forties, he fell in love with this instrument, but didn't have the money to buy one. So he built himself one from a hub cap. Frevos, choros, and even rumbas...what a fab CD!

Brazilian CDs