União Black got started in the mid-'70s, along with other Brazilian acts like Gerson King, Dom Salvador and Cassiano, as part of the Black Rio movement, which melded the gritty, hard-hitting sound of American funk and R&B (think James Brown and Parliament/Funkadelic) with traditional Brazilian rhythms. You can hear the full flowering of that cross-cultural mix on "Yeah Yeah Yeah," as a fuzzed-out guitar vies for attention with some sneakily insinuating conga work and a lazy drum groove. I also love the smooth high harmonies that União Black lay down in their native Portuguese. This track is taken from the group's new album, "Banda União Black," which features nine other equally delightful cuts.
-- David Marchese