These link to selections on Amazon.com, but many of these CDs can be found in local music stores and other online distributors.
Brazil Classics 2: O Samba
Oldies but goodies: samba and other classics.
(The entire Brazil Classics series is worth buying if you want to experience the different musical genres and discover some of the time-tested musical favorites of Brazilians and non-Brazilians alike.)
Traditional Bahian samba-de-roda from the Museu Nacional da Cultura Afro-Brasileira
Online recordings of traditional, folkloric samba from Northeastern Brazil.
Escola de Samba Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel: Fantastica Batucada
Pure batucada grooves from one of the main Rio samba schools
Batucada: The sound of the favelas
Classic recordings of fast, batucada-driven beats. Good for praticing or for those who don't care about the lyrics, just the drums.
Samba pagode (samba for churrascos):
Samba de Raiz
Rio-style pagode (heard in open-air bars, etc.)
O Samba & Os Sambistas:
2-CD compilation of Rio samba classics.
Pagode & churrasco
More samba for barbecues!
Other good CDs for your collection:
One of the best "cover baterias" in Rio! Very danceable, whether you can samba or not!
Monobloco on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZRHeUBpXmw
Bossa Nova Brasil
Part of a 4-CD collection, one of the most comprehensive with the most classics.
Sergio Mendes: Brasileiro FURTHER READING
A very good article on samba, capoeira and candomble, three very important and often-cited aspects of (Northeastern) Brazilian culture. The Samba-de-roda was awarded "Intangible Heritage" status by UNESCO in 2005.
A much shorter article on samba-de-roda can be found at http://worldmusiccentral.org/dokuwiki/doku.php/samba_de_roda.
"Dancing with the Saints"
One woman's blog entry about her experiences in Bahia.
Wikipedia: Samba (the music) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samba
Samba, by Alma Guillermoprieto: An interesting and enjoyable account of one journalist's experience dancing with the Mangueira samba school.
Rio Carnaval 2009 in pictures (fantastic photo essay!) http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/carnival.html
The Rio Carnaval Guide: http://www.rio-carnival.net/
Carnival 2009 in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil http://www.bahia-online.net/Carnival.htm