Bossa Nova Daydreams

Fishing for contemporary Brazilian music? — Two sites for a good catch

These days there are lots of websites that offer a chance to hear classic bossa nova and samba music, but not so many that focus on the current musical scene in Brazil. If you’re a Portuguese speaker looking for contemporary manifestations of MPB, Brazilian jazz and samba, you’ll have an easier time of it, since most of the web coverage of these styles is to be found on Brazilian websites, presented solely in Portuguese. But if you’re not a Portuguese speaker, don’t let that deter you. A few minutes spent visually scanning and exploring links on those sites is usually all it takes to find new musical gems. You can always use your browser’s page translator when you can’t make sense of the Portuguese text on your own. Sure, it won’t be a perfect translation (maybe in a couple more decades?), but it will be good enough to help you navigate and find videos, mp3s and other resources.

Now that I have encouraged you with that little confidence-inspiring pep talk, here are a couple of exciting Brazilian music websites with great listening opportunities:

SESC Instrumental (
SESC is a nationwide Brazilian social support organization that promotes Brazilian culture by supporting musicians and artists. The organization provides venues throughout Brazil that showcase many of today’s best Brazilian talent. On the SESC Instrumental website you can find a treasure trove of high-quality videos of live instrumental music concerts that have taken place at SESC venues throughout Brazil. Shows by well-known artists such as Hermeto Pascoal and João Donato are presented alongside lesser known, but no less interesting artists like the Maogani quartet and Luis Leite. Besides the videos, there are also interviews, artist pages, a tv broadcast link and other resources (all in Portuguese). For instant gratification, find the box entitled “Todos os Shows” (“All the Shows”) on the homepage, then click on the button “Ver todos” (“See them all”) to see the complete list of videos sorted by date and artist/group. (Note that all these videos are also posted on YouTube.) Thanks to Angelo da Silva for giving me the tip about this site!

Cultura Brasil, Brazilian music portal (
This website is the portal to a wide variety of musical offerings presented by São Paulo-based Radio Cultura Brasil, an organization that has been promoting Brazilian music on the air since 1936. Here you will find an archive with lots of themed radio shows that are great samplers of both current and historical music trends in Brazil. There are also themed playlists, such as “O Fino de Elis”, a “best of” overview of Elis Regina recordings, or “Instrumental cerebral paulistano”, an aural voyage through the “cerebral” instrumental music of 1980s São Paulo. Other resources on the site include special radio programs, podcast support, interviews, photos and a live radio stream. Even if you don’t understand Portuguese, if you can sit patiently through a few seconds of talk here and there, you will be richly rewarded with a huge variety of great Brazilian music of all genres—all gratis! Time to put up the “Gone fishin’ ” sign…


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