1 15 2 Music 591322295 Fred S  Pinheiro 72

Festivals in the Amazon


50 of the best Brazilian musicians


Best of Brazil

1 Adriana Calcanhotto, Smoochy, clever, smooth.

2 Afro Reggae, Capa de Revista is the real sound of the favela funk outrage.

3 Airto Moreira, Along with Naná Vasconcelos, perhaps the world’s greatest ever percussionist. Identity is the best album.

4 Andreia Dias, Sultry, smoky and the modern São Paulo sound; her first CD Vol 1 is sumptuous.

5 Antônio Carlos Jobim. One of the inventors of bossa nova and great innovators of Brazilian music. Garota da Ipanema is the most famous, but Matita Pere is also recommended.

6 Arkestra One, Nina Miranda of Smoke City’s greatest Brasil-trip hop moment. She has produced a number of excellent records with Zoomp since.

7 Axial, Wonderful percussion, seductive singing. Papaloko is gorgeous. 

8 Baden Powell. Not the scout master but Brazil’s greatest ever samba guitarist.

9 Badi Assad, Virtusoso jazz guitarist and inventive singer-songwriter popular in the USA.

10 Banda Black Rio, Rio funk soul maestros, go for Gafieira Universal.

11 Bezerra da Silva. The father of political samba and an all-round joyfully cynical genius.

12 Cabruera, Mangue beat samba rock from Paraíba. 

13 Caetano Veloso, Brazil’s Bowie and the co-founder of tropicália.

14 Carlinhos Brown, Salvador’s great musical iconoclast and a thorn in the side of the white elite. Is there anything funkier than Pandeiro-Deiro?

15 Cassia Eller. If Kurt Cobain had been a lesbian from Brasília he’d have sounded like this. She even did a version of Smells like Teen Spirit.

16 CéU, Where samba, electronica and intelligence meet. Vagarosa is as sumptuous as melted chocolate.

17 Chico Cesar, High-brow pop funkster beloved of Brazilian 30-somethings turned porn poet.

18 Chico Science and Nação Zumbi. This maverick invented mangue beat, died young, and went to rock Olympus. Macô is a track that should be listened to loud and in an altered state. Nação Zumbi released a string of excellent albums after his death.

19 Curimbó de Bolso. It’s hard to find but Cantação Amazônica is a sonic sliver of pure trance-inducing tropical jungle joy. Get it from Ná Figueredo in Belém.

20 DJ Dolores, Where mangue beat goes club.

21 DJ Patife, The father of Brazilian drum ‘n bass with DJ Marky,

22 Djavan, Brazil’s Stevie Wonder. We like Bicho Solto O XIII.

23 Dori Caymmi, Carefully crafted, beautiful jazz-tinged music from Bahia. We love his fusion work with Larry Coryell and Billy Cobham on Live from Bahia.

24 Dorival Caymmi. Brazil mourned when he died in 2008. The father of Bahian music.

25 Ed Motta, One of the most important musicians in Rio soul and jazz. Aystelum is a classic.

26 Elis Regina. To many she’s Brazil’s greatest ever singer. Elis e Tom is a landmark album.

27 Érika Machado, Quirky Mineira and producer of carefully crafted pop.

28 Hermeto Pascoal, If Stockhausen were genetically fused with Mingus and raised in Alagoas perhaps he’d play something like this extraordinary Música Universal.

29 Gilberto Gil, Funky, smart ex-minister of culture and co-founder of tropicália. His albums are patchy. Cherry pick.

30 Itamar Assumpção. Difficult, odd, witty, intensely rewarding and impossible to play. Try Navalha Na Liga.

31 João Bosco, The pinnacle of erudite sung samba. Casa de Marimbundo is like a bolt of pure rhythmic energy.

32 Jorge Ben, One of Rio’s great funkster tunesmiths – including Mas que Nada.

33 Karnak and Andre Abujamra, São Paulo theatrical art rock samba.

34 Sammliz & Madame Saatan, madamesaatan. Superb power metal from the Amazon. Singer Sammliz sings like Elis Regina and is as beautiful as bossa.

35 Marcelo D2, Irresistibly funky samba-rap. Try Loadeando.

36 Mariene de Castro, Great modern Bahian samba.

37 Marlui Miranda, her Todos os Sons brought the music of the indigenous Amazonians to the world. A masterpiece.

38 Max de Castro. Vanguard experimentalism from São Paulo. Silêncio No Brooklyn twists and turns with endless inventiveness. Wonderful.

39 Milton Nascimento, www.milton Clube da Esquina is simply one of the greatest records of all time.

40 Naná Vasconcelos, Vies with Airto for the title of world’s greatest ever percussionist. Endlessly inventive. Fragmentos is the album. Or Storytelling.

41 Orquestra Imperial, Joyful, masterful, delicious tongue-in-cheek big band samba from master producer Kassin and his pals.

42 Rappin Hood, Infectious samba funk rapper whose Sou Negao (with Possumente Zulu) bursts with danceability.

43 Seu Jorge, The current Brazilian ambassador to the musical world plays Jorge Ben samba funk with a political theme. We love all of America Brasil, especially Mina do Condomínio.

44 Siba (and Mestre Ambrosio), One of the most important, seminal musicians on the Pernambuco scene. Constantly reinventing roots music and experimenting with musical forms; his 2013 mangue-beat urban funk release Avante replaces bass guitar with tuba. 

45 Tiganá Santana. Inventive Bahian Afro-Brazilian guitarist, songwriter and orchestrator. His 2015 release the Invention of Colour is masterful.

46 Tiné. Wonderful reinventer of roots Pernambuco music. His debut album Segura o Cordão is one of the lost treasures of post-mangue beat Brazilian music.

47 Uakti, Mineiro virtuoso percussionists who craft their own instruments and make mesmerizing gamelan-like music. Their version of Philip Glass’s Amazon suite, Aguas da Amazônia, is an essential.

48 Yamandu Costa, Virtuoso guitarist from Rio Grande do Sul, the Paco de Lucia of Brazil.

49 Zeca Baleiro, Meu Tribo Sou Eu should be a national anthem for the post-racial world. He also wrote a very funny song about Stephen Fry.

50 Zé Ramalho, A kind of desert troubadour whose gravel voiced post-psychedelia would be great in David Lynch film. His most famous track is called Brave New Cow and is a work of genius.

Brasil Musica e Artes,, is a non-profit organization which promotes Brazilian music. Listen to their compilations on for the latest sounds.

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