Nelson Faria & Cliff Korman,
Inside the Brazilian Rhythm Section
(Sher, 2001)

Nelson Faria and Cliff Korman have not created a beginner's book. This deceptively slim volume is aimed at people who understand the basics of rhythm and music, play in their chosen instrument and need only a little guidance to pick up the Brazilian rhythms of the title. You will not learn to play Inside the Brazilian Rhythm Section in five days. But this book, and its accompanying CDs, may help you learn to play there quite well with rather more practice.

Faria and Norman are kind enough to provide a brief guide to the drum notation they use throughout the book. There's an almost extraneous explanation of the training CDs, geared to piano, guitar, bass and drums. Then there's little to do except turn to the CDs, performed by an assembly of musicians skilled enough to make the tunes sound clear and easily followed without losing the essential improvisational feel of the music.

The double CDs prove again that this isn't a book for idle hobbyists. Brazilian Rhythm Section features a total of eight tunes, for eight musical styles. Listeners can focus on samba, bossa nova, partido alto, choro, baiao, frevo, marcha-rancho and afoxe. The tunes are played once for each instrument and once in their complete form. The songs are played for instruction, with a sometimes boring clarity that leaves each note and instrument clear for study. It's toothgrindingly dull, unless you're trying to play along. Then the multiple song renditions are a relief, a chance to go back and catch that cue next time. There are five renditions of each song: the first play, with all instruments contributing, and a version each for piano, guitar, bass and drums. The track for each instrument has the featured instrument drop out, leaving an audible hole in the tune.

Inside the Brazilian Rhythm Section is a focused, compact guide for players with some experience and knowledge. It won't find an audience with hobbyists or beginners, but should be a great resource for those looking to hone their skills or expand an existing repertoire.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 7 June 2003