Monday, 2 February 2009

Sergio Mendes - Encanto - 2008 - Verve

Now here is one to warm up these cold, snowy winter's days! I didn't expect to like this album. The collaboration with the likes of the Black Eyed Peas etc. on his last album really was too much for me, and I was NOT impressed when I heard it! When I saw the same ingredients on this album I groaned inwardly and thought 'I'll give this one a chance...'. I'm glad I did. For me this is his most consistent set for years. “Encanto” boasts a rare ability to blend pop, Brazilian, jazz and rap effortlessly. Possibly this is too eclectic for some listeners BUT for me the real gems are the out-and-out Brazilian cuts. I write this on a rare hot, perfect sunny day and this is the perfect soundtrack for today. PLEASE give the opening song, “The Look Of Love”, a chance...the warm opening music enters into a samba beat and Fergie and Will.I.Am doing a rhyme atop this. How easy it could have been to have hit the skip button. Don't, as this is actually a very hot, more-ish version and Fergie actually sounds very sexy on this, and not one mention of humps or lady bumps. This is SUPERB. Similarly, the excellent “Funky Bahia” with Siedah Garrett and Will.I.Am on rap is an essential track; lush, humid and dripping with tropical flavours this is Sergio Mendes at his 21st Century best!

The wonderful Ledisi adds her radiance to the exuberant Jobim tune “Waters Of March” and does so with gusto! The bassline carries you along nicely! Natalie Cole springs into action on another Brazilian standard, “Somewhere In The Hills” and sounds absolutely brilliant! Nice flugel horn and percussion. Perfect. I also adore the downtempo “Dreamer” which features vocalist Lani Hall and our old friend, Herb Alpert on trumpet. This is absolutely gorgeous. The samba and flugel drizzled “Morning In Rio” is a real highlight and I cannot play this enough. If you are a fan of all things Samba then you will adore this track, as you will the vocal cut “Y Vamos Ya (...Let's Go)” with Juanes on main vocal. If you are a fan of both Joyce and Sabrinha Malheiros then “Acode” with Vanessa Da Mata will sate your hunger. This driving latin rhythm is really a driving force towards the climax of this album – a strong one at that! Another Jobin tune, “Agua De Beber” features Will.I.Am and is updated and tweaked for today to great effect. Musically I am in heaven listening to this...the warm fender rhodes...the percussion and! Even Will sounds good on this, and fits well into a Latin rhythm. I am so pleased I did not pass this over, so please cast aside doubts and dive on in...the Waters Of March are very warm! Better than February's snow storms any day!

Barry Towler,

The Vibe Scribe

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