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Sergio Mendes - Encanto

Sergio Mendes, Encanto

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

EVERY time I make a new record, it’s a new adventure,” says Sergio Mendes. “My main motivation is to record wonderful songs. In the process, I enjoy sharing with the world the diversity of Brazilian music, both in terms of rhythm and melody.”

Encanto marks the old charmer’s follow-up to Timeless, his 2006 collaboration with super-producer Will.I.Am, of Black Eyed Peas fame. It’s very much a repeat of that formula – Brazilian influenced music and melody augmented by Will.I.Am’s slick production values. And, to be fair, it succeeds in conjuring up a suitably passionate summer vibe that can only have been born out of Brazil.

But it’s also more pedestrian than Timeless, suggesting that Mendes has found a new market and is happy to wallow in it for the time being. Early selections show some diversity and some incredibly nice touches, but after about the halfway mark the LP seems to settle in to an overly familiar jazzy routine and fails to hold as much interest.

Among the highlights is a new version of Burt Bacharach’s The Look Of Love which opens the album and finds Mendes teaming up with both Will.I.Am and Fergie to put a fresh spin on things. Hence, the alluring melody of the original has been preserved, along with the crisp drum programming of Will.I.Am and a sexy rap from Fergie. It’s quite alluring and a nice start to proceedings.

Will.I.Am and Seidah Garrett also work some nice vocals into Funky Bahia, which is as feel-good and, well, funky, as its name suggests. And Waters of March fairly zips along, featuring 2006 Grammy nominee Ledisi and a French reprisal by Afro-European vocal ensemble Zap Mama.

The jazz overload begins with the horn-heavy Somewhere In The Hills, but is enlivened by a typically sultry vocal turn by Natalie Cole, whose style is as cool and soothing as the breeze she first starts singing about.

And Juanes adds plenty of Latin passion to the “hey yo” laden Y Vamos Ya, which peps things up later on. Agua De Beber, meanwhile, is delivered in a hip-hop version that finds Toninho Horta on guitar, Mendes’ wife and longtime vocalist Gracinha Leporace, and the man himself showcasing his instrumental chops on a bewitching Rhodes piano solo. It’s a stylish end to proceedings.

Sadly, though, the remainder of the tracks fail to live up to the better moments. Many just conform to a laidback jazzy criteria that’s fine as background music but which don’t really make that much of an impression. It’s a shame, given Mendes’ reputation and obvious enthusiasm.

Download picks: The Look of Love, Funky Bahia, Waters of March, Y Vamos Ya, Agua Be Beber

Track listing:

  1. Look Of Love – Sergio Mendes & Fergie
  2. Funky Bahia – Sergio Mendes & Will.I.Am/Siedah Garrett
  3. Waters Of March – Sergio Mendes & Ledisi
  4. Odo Ya – Sergio Mendes & Carlinhos Brown
  5. Somewhere In The Hills – Sergio Mendes & Natalie Cole
  6. Lugar Comun – Sergio Mendes & Jovanotti
  7. Dreamer – Sergio Mendes & Herb Alpert/Iani Hall
  8. Morning In Rio
  9. Y Vamos La – Sergio Mendes & Juanes
  10. Catavento E Girassol – Sergio Mendes & Gracinha Leporace
  11. Acode – Sergio Mendes & Vanessa Da Mata
  12. Agua De Beber – Sergio Mendes & Will.I.Am
  13. Les Eaux De Mars – Sergio Mendes & Zap Mama
  14. E Vamos La