World & Latin

It's All Good


Decades after his groundbreaking work with Brasil '66, Sergio Mendes continues to spotlight the music of his native country in a jazz context and inject it with elements of rap, hip-hop, world music and other diverse shades. Bom Tempo, his new recording on Concord Records, is just what the Portuguese title implies. "It's all about the good times, good weather, good tempos," said Mendes.

The album includes songs by the some of the best songwriters to come out of Brazil, including Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gilberto Gil and Milton Nascimento. Also in the mix is "The Real Thing," a song written by Stevie Wonder that first appeared on Sergio Mendes And The New Brazil '77. The whole package is crafted by a crew hailing from both sides of the border -- some longtime Mendes collaborators along with a few newcomers.

Vocalists Nayanna Holley and Carlinhos Brown open the set with a chant-like rendition of the Gilberto Gil/João Donato, song, "Emorio," wherein Brown lays down a funky rap that celebrates the great songwriters of Brazil. Further in, the Brazilian classic "Ye-Me-Le" (from Mendes' 1969 album of the same name) and Mendes' own "Magalenha" (from the 1992 Grammy winning Brasileiro) also benefit from a rap groove, thanks to newcomer H2O in the former and Brown in the latter.

Nascimento delivers an intriguing rendition of his own "Caxanga," a slightly dark and mysterious children's song that showcases his mesmerizing combination of lead vocals and acoustic guitar.

Mendes recalls a recent encounter in London with the dance music trio Bimbo Jones, three 20-somethings who'd latched onto the music of Brasil '66 via YouTube videos (and who appear on the dance mix version of Bom Tempo). "It just goes to show you," he said, "that Brazilian music has a universal appeal and it is timeless."

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    Sergio Mendes, from Bom Tempo

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    Morning in Rio

    Sergio Mendes, from Encanto

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