Friday, February 29, 2008

Sergio Mendes – Encanto

This album is a party wrapped in a box. It’s not often I write about an entire album here at eartaste. I’m sure I’ve done it, but I can’t recall when it was. And, to be absolutely honest, as much as I praised Timeless when it was released, I seriously did not expect it to be anything more than a fluke. It was simply so good that I thought it a beautiful little blip on the screen of my life.

Well, Sergio returns with the same energy and some of the same artists to keep himself relevant in 2008 better than most artists ¼ his age. His is not afraid to rediscover his past with modern flavorings. If he had not thought of the projects himself, I’m sure someone else eventually would have; but I know from experiences with hundreds of “tribute” albums that most fall flat and add no taste in the world. Sergio beats them all to the punch and produces his own tribute, with his own energy & creates party albums that will keep us dancing all year. Timeless has not left my party stack since it arrived, and I already know Encanto will be a very close partner in the small pile.

The party sneaks in with a noodling keyboard sounding like a fancy hotel lobby with wine being served as we all check each other out – the noodle tune is “The Look Of Love.” It doesn’t take long, probably about 20 seconds, before the beat picks up and the dance starts, with Fergie adding some hip-hop Sergio-tinged lyrics to the melody. Kittens are purring throughout. Funky Bahia follows with percussive realities heating up the dance floor. The guests on this dance groove are and Siedah Garrett “dancing in the ghetto”, where “music is the potion.” The beats pick up even more for Waters of March sung perfectly sexy by Ledisi. The hip-hop flavors have disappeared, but the dance doesn’t stop, and the break at the end returns to earlier jazz vocalizings that hip-hop grew out of. Odo-Ya by Carlinhos Brown is pure world-music flavored hip hop – no rest for these feet.

Somewhere In The Hills is a jazz-tinged search for reality that rests my feet long enough to finish the wine & re-fill my glass as Natalie Cole gives Friday a whole new meaning. Jovanotti brings everybody back to the dance floor with Lugar Común, perhaps with a few clichés, but extremely flavorful ones. Next, just for fun, Sergio invites a singer from his first mega-smash album and her husband, who helped make Mendes a household name 40+ years ago, to favor us with a 1966 sound. Nice, slow dance while Lani tells her “sad little dreams to the soft evening air.” Herb sounds better here than ever and makes me wonder when his new record will ever appear. It’s cool to hear voices remaining so strong while Sergio makes us fall in love all over again. A whistle brings the party back to a Morning In Rio with an extremely lively mood. Cool-down was quick, but worth it because my feet are loving this. Of course, I have to apologize to several people because my wildly swinging arms tend to brush against their heads.

You get the message by now, this is a party album filled with many types of dances and flavors, and wonderfully arranged to be sure there is always action on the floor for an hour. The DJ can throw this on and get some dancing in himself. A quick shoutout for Acode by Vanessa da Mata & a quick note to let you know you can pre-order this album directly from Concord. Be ready to party all summer! I know you'll love Zap Mama as much as I do.

Sergio Mendes - Encanto