Jorge Ben

Samba Esquema Novo

Doxy • 2014

It’s no coincidence that Jorge Ben’s influential debut-album from 1963 has been re-released just in time for the World Cup 2014. The fact that samba-classics like »Mas Que Nada«, »País Tropical« or »Chove Chuva« from the 30-minutes-record have been covered over and over only underlines the importance of »Samba Esquema Novo«. Like many other Brazilian musicians, Jorge Ben (or rather Jorge Ben Jor, as he’s called himself since 1989) has been hugely influenced by João Gilberto, but had a great influence himself when merging traditional samba and the rather bourgeois bossa nova on the one hand and Western influences of rock and pop on the other hand. As a kind of country-music, samba was rather popular amongst workers and the rural population, while bossa nova was more valued in middle-class circles. Hence, Jorge Ben did not only combine different kinds of music, but brought together different life styles, too. Of course, the venture didn’t go down well with everyone and earned quite a bit of criticism, especially in the beginnings. For example, Jorge Ben was not allowed to appear on the TV-program »Fino da Bossa, after having aired at the alleged rival-show by the name of »Jovem Guarda«. And while it’s hard to make out the different influences of rock and funk leading to samba-rock and the Tropicália-movement in the 1970s in these recordings, it’s still appropriate to call »Samba Esquema Novo« the pioneer of a new musical era which made Brazil appear on the world map of pop for the first time.