After making his recording debut on Farofa Carioca's Moro No Brasil (1997), Seu Jorge left the band and embarked on a solo recording career that commenced with Samba Esporte Fino (2001), his full-length album debut (released internationally in 2002 as Carolina). The best of both worlds, the album's style of samba-funk is thoroughly modern, particularly in terms of its vibrant production, yet still harks back to classic Brazilian samba-funk albums of the 1970s such as Jorge Ben's África Brasil (1976) and Gilberto Gil's Refazenda (1975). The standout opening song, "Carolina," gets the album off to an absolutely rousing start, and the next two songs, "Chega No Suingue" and "Mangueira," are similarly stirring. These first three songs alone make Samba Esporte Fino a compelling debut album: each written by Jorge, they showcase not only his exceptional songwriting skills but also his expressive singing voice and his lively backing band (guitar, bass, drums, percussion, horns, background vocalists). Following the opening run of self-penned songs, Jorge works in a variety of covers, including "Em Nagoya Eu Vi Eriko," a song written by Jorge Ben specifically for inclusion here. Amid these covers, Jorge slots a late-album pair of his own songs, most notably "Funk Baby," a soul-funk gem with a fat bassline and soaring string arrangement. There is a wealth of such highlights on Samba Esporte Fino, an almost entirely upbeat and danceable album that is nonetheless varied in style from one song to the next, musically as well as lyrically. Another plus for the album worth mentioning is the production of Ben in collaboration with Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato. As aforementioned, it sounds 21st century, particularly the rich basslines and the crisp percussion, yet is still earthy enough to hark back to samba-funk of the 1970s.