Local Wire

Various Artists

PolyGram, now a part of Universal Music, established a market presence in Brazil more than 50 years ago, and its back catalogue includes bossa nova, tropicalia, MPB, samba, post-samba and today's fusions of folk and electronica. These three compilations launch a projected series designed to introduce American ears to this music. Caipirinha concentrates on artists from São Paulo, considered the most African -- and experimental -- part of Brazil. The tracks are heavily rhythmic and include throbbing street samba, syncopated Brazilian rap, and seminal tracks from superstars Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Jorge Ben. Soul Groove shows the influence of American funk, disco and R&B on Brazilian music; Jorge Ben's "Take It Easy My Brother Charlie" is a relaxed example of early Brazilian funk that tips a tropical hat to Curtis Mayfield. Girls From Ipanema is the most laid-back set and the one most accessible to American ears, since bossa has been absorbed into the musical language of North Americans. This collection charts the important female bossa singers from the '60s success of Astrud Gilberto to the trip-hop bossa of current diva Bebel Gilberto's "Tanto Tempo," with solid contributions from Gal Costa, Elis Regina and Nara Leão. PolyGram attempted a similar feat of releasing a compilation series in the early '80s, but soon lost interest (as corporations will do), so get these while you can.