Prezident Markon’s New Singles Round-Up (Darumas, M. Chuzi, Ayom, Nina Camillo, Badi Assad and more)

By 07 May, 2024

Quite literally, masses of massive new releases this month. To be fair, though, they’re not all from Brazil. We need to take them one single at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. Ossum!

Orlando Mendez: “Motherland”

Let’s wade into the mainstream via left field. “It’s only 90 miles and a cigar in my hand/Between me and the motherland…” They call this dude in the Stetson hat the “Cuban cowboy” and there aren’t too many of them per square inch. He sings about his family connection to the island just across the sea from his adopted Miami and suggests that it won’t be too long before Cuba is back in American hands. Whereupon Havana will once more be ripe for high-rollers and rampant corruption. Let’s hear it for free enterprise, folks! Yee-ha!

Darumas: “Daruma”

Also from a Miami studio, and sounding a little like a Latin take on the Doobie Brothers, “Daruma” is the first single from an all-female trio who know how to get the fonk outta ma face. The catchy bass line comes courtesy of Aldana Aguirre from Argentina; the soulful lead vocal is Vedala Vilmond’s from Haiti by way of Chile; and the fluid scratchy guitar à la “Skunk” Baxter is laid down by Ceci Leon, who also has Cuban roots. Together they’ve come up with something that promises a bright career.

Alex Anwandter: “Gaucho”

Talking of retro sounds and Jeff Baxter, this has got nothing to do with Steely Dan’s great misunderstood Gaucho, but it does sound like turn-of-the-century club music. The video is as fabulous as the beats are compelling. Señor Anwandter is a rather talented Chilean musician, producer and film director with six albums and an award-winning film (You’ll Never Be Alone) already tucked under his belt. This compelling single is the first foretaste of his next long player, Dime Precioso, due at the end of this month. “I will dance with you…”

M. Chuzi: “Yiri Yiri Boum!”

And while on the good foot… Here’s a dashingly different take on the mambo classic from an Afro-groove outfit based in Brussels. It comes from the EP Yiri BOOM!, which came out on one of the coolest labels on the planet, Belgium’s Sdban (Ultra). “Great vibes!” as DJ Kobiyashi proclaimed in the publicity.

New Regency Orchestra: “Papa Boco”

There’s only one place to go after that one and that’s straight to the New Regency Ballroom in downtown… Havana? Indeed not, but London’s finest capture the sound of 1950s Cuba brilliantly once more on this latest single from a forthcoming album on Mr. Bongo.

Tiganá Santana: “Das Matas”

More from a dance-floor near you later, but first… Time to cool down the pace with a new single from the ever-dependable Tiganá Santana. Some of his recent work has been so delicate it’s threatened to blow away with the first gust of wind, but this latest for the Swedish Ajabu! label has a bit more oomph, a bit more emphasis on the singer-songwriter’s “drumguitar”. It’s taken from the new album, Caçada Noturna, which I’m itching to hear. Or have the cats got fleas again?

Ayom: “Oxalá, Promessa do Migrante”

Sticking with Brazil, as there’s rather a lot to come from there, here’s a gorgeous song from an outfit honoured in 2021 by Songlines following their debut album. I haven’t heard much from them since, so it’s good news to learn that this single is taken from a new album to come. I say Brazil, but Ayom is a six-piece with members also from Europe and Cape Verde, led by singer and percussionist Jabu Morales. Like her, the dancer Caroline Rodrigues is a devotee of Oxum, the Afro-Brazilian goddess of divinity, femininity, fertility, beauty and love. The single oozes all such qualities, along with that intoxicating Cape Verdean feeling of saudade

Studio Rio/Bill Withers: “Lovely Day”

I’m not sure that I entirely approve of this kind of thing: it seems to me like cloning sheep. A sheep is a lovely animal, so let’s leave it at that. It’s against nature. Similarly, Bill Withers is simply irreplaceable and his “Lovely Day” is still one of the loveliest songs on the planet. Nevertheless, Mr. Bongo have always known what they’re doing and it does sound rather nice with a bossa twist. It comes from 2014’s The Brazil Connection, masterminded by the award-winning German Berman Brothers.

Carlos Pickling y su Orquesta: “Cumbia Morena”

From the German Berman Brothers to Carlos Pickling. I do love the ring of good names! Mr. Pickling (no relation to the commercial cake-maker of yore) and his orchestra have appeared in many a terrific Vampisoul compilation from the Andean nations. The two songs on this 7″ single are sheer belters from the MAG studios of the 1960s.

Didje Doo: “Samai Pacha”

Another belter per favor. OK, how about this one? But what’s an Italian DJ and producer doing on a Latin music site? Just listen to the Caribbean/Brazilian feel of this debut single from the May-listed sophomore album, Vitalize It, and you’ll surely agree that it was worth finding an excuse to give it a spin. Good for as-thma and pneu-mo-con-iosis… I’ll bet Dr. Peter Tosh would prescribe a dose of this.

Eufrásia Neres: “Bem-Ti-Vi”

And now for that bevy of beauties from Brazil that I’ve been promising, starting with this delightful song inspired (I’m told) by the visits of butterflies and birds to the singer’s window in Salvador. The titular bird symbolises a brighter tomorrow and, by association, a testament to the enduring spirit of Bahian music.

Nina Camillo: “Bem Te Vi”

It’s not every time that we have two quite different singles of the same name by two different artists. This lovely blend of bossa nova, nu-soul and jazz by a singer who professes to be influenced by the ever-wonderful Erykah Badu features a mellifluous trumpet (or flugelhorn?) and a lyric about self-acceptance and confidence and the importance of embracing one’s true identity in a world obsessed by image. Speak the truth, sista!

Roberta Campos & George Israel: “Em Cada pra Sempre”

Apologies to anyone yearning for some death metal from Paraguay, but I’m going to serve you some more Brazilian loveliness in the form of this duet, seemingly in the spirit of that most glorious double act of yore, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Apparently, this is the two commercial artists’ first collaboration and it was born from an online meeting. It led to an entire album, Quatro Mãos (“Four Hands”). Those four hands certainly make light work of sweet melodious music like this.

Los Master Plus: “Manos Vacías”

From four hands to these titular “empty hands” – and back to a country flavour, courtesy of a band about whom I can find very little, as the handy info tends to be about the Venezuelan group Los Master’s or Los Masters, depending on your feelings about redundant apostrophes. Anyway, this much I know: it’s the Mexican outfit’s version of Miguel Bosé’s 2009; it’s sung – rather well – by Alfredo Cabello; and it’s a teaser for their forthcoming album, Va en Serio.

Samuel Ortiz: “El Tiempo”

Samuel Ortiz hails from Bogotá, a singer and producer, whose debut EP (Conversaciones Conmigo) came out last year. The new single is poppy, rocky and rhythmical, a kind of Colombian take on adult-oriented rock. It’s not Paraguayan metal, but nice gee-tars and a pronounced ’80s feel make this well worth the viewing. Or listening. Or both.

Luiza Brina feat Silvana Estrada: “Oração 2”

Yes, I know – it’s Brazil again. I could be sacked for lack of international variety. But this sumptuous marriage of composer Luiza Brina’s elegant arrangement and Silvana Estrada’s dreamy vocal is a bit of a tour de force. It’s a taste of things to come – in the form of the imminent album, Prece. Could be a good ‘un.

JR.Bass (feat. Samira Audi): “Deixa o Verão”

Here’s another collaboration, but this one is light years apart from the preceding one. The man responsible for the funky sounds and the art-house short film, multi-instrumentalist and producer JR.Bass, hails from Pernambuco. The singer and video star, Samira Audi, is a Paulista. JR explains how he stumbled upon “the remarkable singer-songwriter” while monitoring “the vibrant São Paulo music scene.” “Instantly captivated by her influences upon meeting her, I was struck by her exceptional talent.” What will become of this meeting of the musical spirits…?

Badi Assad: “Se Eu Quiser Falar com Deus”

And now for something completely mesmerising… Rightly renowned for her voice and her exceptional guitar playing, Badi Assad reinterprets Gilberto Gil’s classic composition of 1980 with taste and feeling. Not a note out of place and utterly captivating.

André Ubilla: “La Velocidad del Amor”

This, too, is quite captivating. The breathy singer with the smart specs hails from Chile and the song is one of several recent numbers he has been working on in preparation for a new album scheduled for sometime this year. His debut came out in late 2018, but it must have passed us by. I shall be more attentive in future.

That’s it for another month. A wet one at that. The sun’s out momentarily, so I shall wander back across left field to the family home and keep a vigilant ear out over the next few weeks for more magnificent music.

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