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Gilberto Gil & Jorge Ben “Ogum Xangô” (1975)

This has got to be one of the most engaging and enjoyable displays of totally unrestrained musicianship I’ve ever heard. Jorge and Gil’s chemistry is seamless, yet their vocal and instrumental skills remain distinct and identifiable. The album is a terrific, relaxed affair, and the songs have a continuously rolling, improvvy feel about them, driven by bouncy, rhythmic guitar lines that eventually loop into hypnotic grooves and some extremely dynamic dual vocals, all of which remains surprisingly tight throughout. Jorge might take the lead on one song, Gil playfully trailing his vocals and throwing in some little guitar-tricks for embellishment, only to have the baton passed across, the two switching roles in a manner that’s quite selfless and democratic. The decision to record Gil primarily in one channel and Jorge in the other (perhaps just on the remaster?) was a stroke of genius, as it provides a slight buffer between the two which allows each of their contributions to be heard without any obfuscation, not to mention that it makes listening to Ogum Xangô on headphones feel a lot like you’re sitting in the middle of one of the most productive jam sessions of all time. The talent on display here is simply incredible. —Tommo

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