Thursday, September 11, 2008


The first Sergio Mendes album I laid my hands on was my sister Eileen's copy of CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS, which she used to tuck nicely into a special cabinet under her dressing table.  I would of course find it, and as a tot would repeatedly play PRETTY WORLD on her phonograph until the cut would skip.

Mendes's music then as it does now four decades later has never failed to charm me.  Credit the classically trained keyboardist's attempt to reinvent himself through the years and to keep his work contemporary by infusing musical elements that are friendly to today's listeners.

Following his highly-acclaimed 2006 album TIMELESS, Mendes has released this month, ENCANTO, which once again redefines samba to embrace such genres as neo-soul, hip-hop, and even reggaeton through collaborations with The Black Eyed Peas's  However, he makes a conscious effort to exceed work done for TIMELESS, and to produce an album more befitting of his artistry.

While the infusion of modern musical styles is evident, Mendes brings forward his loungey bossa keyboards--sorely missed in TIMELESS, and a richer percussion set to bring us deeper into the music of Brazil.  And while TIMELESS features a host of artists (including Justin Timberlake, John Legend, and Erykah Badu) whom critics feel may not have been right for the project, ENCANTO showcases an international array of musicians to bring out the album's distinct magic.  Consider the following: Colombian star Juanes, Italian rapper Jovanotti, Brazilian geniuses Carlinhos Brown and Vanessa de Mata, Japanese pop group Dreams Come True, Belgium's Zap Mama and American icons Fergie, Natalie Cole, and Siedah Garret, among others.

My friend Barok will be happy to note that there are 2 new versions of WATERS OF MARCH in ENCANTO.  But perhaps more compelling are Fergie's THE LOOK OF LOVE, Gracinha Leporace's (wife of Mendes) CATAVENTO, and's AGUA DE BEBER.

In 2006, during a trip to San Francisco where my sister Eileen now resides, I stumbled upon a second hand CD shop in the Haight-Ashbury district.  Lo and behold, greeting me was a digital copy of CRYSTAL ILLUSIONS, which I purchased immediately for my sister.  Recently, in a HMV shop in Hong Kong's central district, I came face to face with ENCANTO and took a copy at once for myself.

ENCANTO is a project under the Concord Records label, in cooperation with Starbucks Entertainment.

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