“Encanto”
Sergio Mendes
Release Date: June 10, 2008
Label:Concord/Starbucks Entertainment

Hot, hot, hot, is the first thing that comes to mind after previewing the new album Encanto (Enchantment), from Brazilian music legend Sergio Mendes, set for release June 10th.

Encanto is an excellent follow up to Mendes’ 2006 Timeless album, which featured guest artist will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas, and combined neo-soul, bossa nova, samba, hip hop, and reggaeton.

On Encanto, Mendes presents infectious rhythms and irresistible melodies from the great Brazilian Songbook, featuring guest artists Fergie, Ledisi, Zap Mama, Natalie Cole, and will.i.am, to name a few.

I wasn’t sure when I heard about this release if anything could top Mendes’ Timeless album, which is one of my favorite albums to chill out too, but let me tell you, I was not disappointed with Encanto and am in awe of the collection and guest artist ensemble that Mendes has put together. A collection that is going to be the soundtrack to my summer.

I have to admit that it’s kind of hard to pick out favorite tracks for this album. Yeah, it’s that good. But if I had to pick a few tracks in which to entice you to go out and pick up this album on June 10th, tracks that gave a realistic preview of the entire album, I’d definitely start with Mendes’ new version of Burt Bacharach’s “The Look Of Love,” which he had originally transposed to bossa nova heaven in 1967, when it became his biggest hit with Brasil ‘66. Produced by Black Eye Pea will.i.am, this new interpretation maintains the beguiling melody of the original, bringing the tune to new millennium territory: keeping Sergio’s original bass line intro, with crisp drum programming and a sexy rap/vocal by The Black Eyed Peas’ Fergie.

I’d add to that, “Funky Bahia,” the song he co-wrote with will.i.am for this CD, is a perfect cross between American mainstream and Brazilian sensibility– the kind of multi-cultural encounters that the jazz loving Mendes has always favored. It’s sung by Will and Siedah Garrett, another Mendes alumna, who sang in Mendes’ band in the mid ‘80s and recorded on many of his albums. Also playing on this song (Funky Bahia), as well as several others, are 2 of the greatest musicians of their generation, Sergio’s long time friends and collaborators: the virtuoso guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. and the legendary bassist Alphonso Johnson. Sergio’s longtime band members, Mike Shapiro – his drummer for 20 years, brothers Meia Noite and Gibi, percussionists also from Bahia, are also part of this album.

In case you’re still not convinced, I am going to add “Odo-Ya” featuring Carinhos Brown.

And to close the deal, check out the hip-hop version of “Agua De Beber” with will.i.am on vocals, Toninho Horta on guitar, Mendes’ wife Gracinha Leporace on vocals, and the man himself showcasing his instrumental chops on a bewitching Rhodes solo.

If that doesn’t convince you, then nothing will!

Extra goodies on Encanto include an appearance by Zap Mama(in French), the album also includes a rap by Italian super star Jovanotti, as well as a new song by Joao Donato and Joyce – “Y Vamos Ya,” – sung in Spanish by Juanes, one of the brightest new stars in contemporary Latin pop.

On naming the album, Mendes says, “Encanto is a beautiful Portuguese word that I chose as the album title because it describes the whole project so well. It means: ENCHANTMENT, DELIGHT, CHARM…”

Encanto is instant vintage and has secured its spot in my rotation.

TRACK LISTING

TOUR DATES

6/20/08 Atlantic City, NJ House of Blues
6/21/08 New York, NY Carnegie Hall
6/22/08 Bridgeport, CT The Klein Memorial Auditorium
6/23/08 Philadelphia, PA World Café Live
6/25/08 Somerville, MA Somerville Theater
6/27/08 Syracuse, NY Syracuse Jazz Festival
6/28/08 Toronto tbd
7/1/08 Vienna, VA The Wolftrap

VIDEO – Sergio Mendes ‘Encanto’ Clip

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