‘Alluring,’ ‘mesmerising,’ ‘bewitching’ none of these epithets even begin to capture the attraction of Daniela Mercury and yet they all do, because Mercury is indeed ‘A Rainha Do Axé’. Her music encompasses the diaphanous spirit of Brasil, but her roots remain, heart and soul, Salvador, Bahia. The state is the historical and cultural heart of Brasil. As the chief locus of the early Brazilian slave trade, Bahia is considered to possess the greatest and most distinctive African imprint, in terms of culture and customs, in Brasil. These include the Yoruba-derived religious system of Candomblé, the martial art of capoeira, African-derived music such as samba (especially samba’s Bahian precursor samba-de-roda), afoxé, and axé, and a cuisine with strong links to western Africa.
This most celebrated ‘baiana’ best embodies the soul of this Afro-Brasilian music and succeeds magnificently in presenting it on Virtual Vinyl. Incandescent, profoundly human and intoxicating in its celebration of the (African-Brasilian) world of nature and the divine, the rhythms of Bahia is highly demanding of its performers and requires special treatment at every turn. Daniela Mercury’s interpretation, her personal spin, succeeds superbly by focusing on the life-affirming qualities of Candomblé, capoeira, afoxé, and axé that make the music already so special and an infectiously joyous celebration of life itself. There is a special sense of music that is rhythmically crisp and unfailingly responsive, most effectively in the dramatic twists and turns of ‘Vinal Virtual’. And while Daniela Mercury plays the leading role in this, it is impossible to forget that the musicians who have embarked on this journey with her surely justify their inclusion. As with that track, so also with others the band’s playing is superbly flexible and exhilarating throughout this performance.
I cannot thing of a more compelling performance of Brasilian music since Elis Regina embarked on her legendary tour of Brasil of 1980, that was directed and produced by Cesar Camargo Mariano and became the album Saudade do Brasil. Like that iconic album, Virtual Vinyl sweeps almost everything before it aside with its exultant music. It’s tempos :– though typically of Bahia – are never predictable; the instrumentation is absolutely exquisite and Daniela Mercury with her sultry contralto voice sounds resonant and dramatically compelling and blisteringly joyous as she strips naked the affectations of stardom as, amid ritual drumming in ‘Senhora Do Terreiro,’ she raises her musical artistry to the divine.
Track List: A Rainha Do Axé; Maria Casaria; América Do Amor; Alegria E Lamento; Tô Samba Da Vida; Sem Argumento; Frogs In The Sky; De Deus, De Alah, De Gilberto Gil; Extranhos Terrestres; Antropofágicos Sao Paulistanos; O Riso De Deus; Vinal Virtual; Três Vozes; Minha Mãe, Minha Pátria; Senhora Do Terreiro.
Personnel: Daniela Mercury: vocals; Gilberto Gil: acoustic guitar, voice (8); Neguinho do Samba: percussion (sampled) (4); Márcio Victor: voice, percussion; Armandinho Macêdo: 5-string electric guitar, mandolin; Cesário Leony: bass; Alexandre Vargas: guitar; Gerson Silva: guitar; Gabriel Póvoas: keyboards, guitars, acoustic bass, vocals; Giovana Mercury: backing vocals; Yacoce Simões: arrangements, direction.
Label: DRG Brasil
Release date: January 2016
Running time: 1:07:56
Buy album on: amazon