If you look at a map, the Twin Cities and Rio are more than 5000 miles apart. But if you listen to Circle of the Dance, the distance shrinks to a mere heartbeat. The collaborators that form Alma Brasiliera started their journeys from widely disparate points - recorder virtuoso Clea Galhano grew up in Brazil, vocalist Lucia Newell spent two years in Rio studying with local masters and guitarist/composer/arranger Joan Griffith has been anchored in the midwest. But it is through the folk traditions of Brazilian music that their art intersects, and it is at this intersection that we hear some of the Brazilian songcrafters like Luis Bonfa and Pixinguinha as well as Minnesota's own High Priestess of samba and baiao, Joan Griffith. Brazilian popular music is itself an intersection of diverse cultures, fusing African rhythms with Portuguese melodicism while reflecting the stylistic variations of a nation as much a melting pot as is the U.S. Spend an hour with Circle of the Dance and you will begin to differentiate these styles - the popular harmonies of samba, the complex urban rhythms of the bossa nova, the Baroque 'ragtime' of choro, the colorful country dance of baiao. And fast or slow, wistful or festive, the unifying thread throughout the music, throughout Circle of the Dance, is the celebration of that inner core of joy that defines the Brazilian soul. Andrea Canter - Minneapolis.