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Timeless

Sergio Mendes

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Album Review

It's easy to think that since Santana made his big comeback using a lot of contemporary pop stars it would become the formula for the artists of yore to edge their way back into the limelight. Sergio Mendes, the best-selling Brazilian recording artist of all time, hasn't made a platter in eight years. He plays piano on a Black Eyed Peas track — "Sexy" from Elephunk — and the jam's a smash. Will.i.am of the Peas decides to hook up for a full-on collaboration with Mendes, because he's a huge fan. Being the hotshot producer of the moment, will.i.am recruited everyone from Q-Tip, Justin Timberlake, and John Legend to Jill Scott, Black Thought (the Roots), and Stevie Wonder (just to name a few) to sign on. Recorded in both Brazil and the House of Blues in Encino, the set revisits many Mendes and Brazilian songbook classics and reworks them in the modern beat-driven idiom. Needless to say, the end result is entertaining, if mixed. Let it be said that a cut like "Mas Que Nada" should never have been covered, let alone redone. But it is here with Black Eyed Peas and some backing vocals with, of course, Mendes playing that trademark piano riff. OK, "That Heat" is a reworking of "Slow Hot Wind," the Henry Mancini tune Mendes covered and is supposedly the first track will.i.am ever sampled at the ripe old age of 14. Here Erykah Badu croons in a sultry humid way as will.i.am goes down deep with the rap. Mendes' piano is what keeps the thing from falling completely apart. Better is the Baden Powell-Vinicius de Moraes medley of "Berimbau/Consolacao." Mendes' Rhodes offers the vamp that the elegant chorus singers — Gracinha Leporace, Debi Nova, and Kleber Jorge — and Mendes groove to. Will.i.am lays down some rather organic-sounding electronic percussion that sounds like palmas, and Wonder blows his harmonica over the entire proceeding as Jorge's guitar strides alongside Mendes' piano. This may be the best cut on the set. There is a fine case to be made for the humor in "The Frog," written by João Donato, and originally covered by Mendes. Q-Tip lays down a charming rhyme and Mendes' Wurlitzer work is killer. The cover of "Let Me" is stiff and Jill Scott, as fine a singer as she is, doesn't cut it here, and neither does the rhythm track. The smoother than smooth "Please Baby Don't," written and sung by John Legend, works because of Legend's understanding of Brazilian rhythm and Mendes' piano groove that carries the voice. "Samba da Bencao," with Marcelo D2 and guitars by the Maogani Quartet, is engaging; Mendes' acoustic piano solo is beautiful, as are the horn charts. The title track with India.Arie is simply beautiful. Aire, with backing vocals by Nova and Leporace and a slinky guitar part by Jorge, makes the tune simply float as Mendes decorates it with Rhodes and synth. Timeless is a mixed bag, but it's not because of Mendes. His own playing and arranging is utterly elegant. As a producer, will.i.am means well and in general does a fine job — though he is, as would be expected, a tad overzealous in working with one of his idols. Timeless may not actually achieve that status, but for the moment it's a fine effort that doesn't reek of cloying commercial manipulation and feels like a true collaboration.

Customer Reviews

If you truly love MUSIC (not just hip-hop or samba) you will love this album!!!

I have read many of the reviews that people have posted regarding this album. The positive reviews are right on point. Most negative reviews have come from people that love Sergio's previous albums - the irony. The problem with many of these negative statements is that they sound like they come from nagging children or broken hearted school girls, as opposed to grown adults who really have an appreciation and ear for MUSIC - not just one genre of music. True musicians like Sergio embrace the evolution of thier music and appreciate other genres. If you truly beleive that Sergio is a genius when it comes to music (not just Samba)...let him experiment and respect it. Those that are not true musicians or music afficionados will never get it and will never grow up. Lastly, if you don't REALLY understand the culture and history of REAL hip-hop or any other genre of music - don't try to pass judgement. Never base your opinion on a genre of music based on what you hear on the radio or see in a music video - do some real research - think about it!

WOW!!

THIS is what you call a comeback album! Not that Mendes needs to "come back" per se--the man is a legend. BUT, he definitely came correct with this project. I've never been a *major* Black Eyed Peas or Will I. Am fan, but this collaboration sincerely gave me a newfound respect for Will and his production range. This album is a mature, very intriguing, and fresh appeal to mendes's music that can be appreciated by both the fans of the 60s and 70s Mendes and the pop aficionados of today--really nice mesh of the two. My favorite so far is the "Loose Ends" track with Pharoahe Monch and Justin Timberlake. I would have NEVER put those two together, but with the subject matter of the song and the finesse of Sergio Mendes on the keys, it doesn't fail. This is a definite album to get for latin, samba, hip hop, and pop fans.

check the orignals

The problem with projects like this is that the audience it is intended for reference point for music is not live music. The orginals recording were performed with real musicians who played as an ensemble. The fed off of each others vibe in the studio even within the limits of the arrangers idea. Current popular music is more concerned with visual appeal and conforming to some corp sanction street cred. Brazilian music is the heart beat of the planet, it is the place were African, European, and American RnB/Jazz mesh into the blood that makes us groove. This recording hopefully will cause others to explore the orignals and new music that is not forced fed to the general public by MTV/BET. I use I Tunes to buy a tune and make a decision if i am going to purcahse the CD. The majority of Sergio's body of work is jamming, he can be cheesy, but most popular hip-hop has only 15% of good stuff on a cd also. Sergio's Albums and CD's have a much better average and he has been around for almost 5 decades. I doubt many of the guest on this cd will be relavant for a third of that time.

Biography

Born: February 11, 1941 in Niteroi, Brazil

Genre: Brazilian

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

For most of the second half of the '60s, Sergio Mendes was the top-selling Brazilian artist in the United States, charting huge hit singles and LPs that regularly made the Top Five. His records with his group, Brasil '66, regularly straddled the domestic pop and international markets in America, getting played heavily on AM radio stations, both rock and easy listening, and he gave his label, A&M, something to offer light jazz listeners beyond the work of the...
Full Bio

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