Brazilian music legend Sergio Mendes spins his remarkable magic on his newest recording, Encanto (Enchantment), which is among the maestro's most beautifully realized in his unparalleled career. The collection refines Sergio's singular blend of infectious rhythms and irresistible melodies from the great Brazilian Songbook, with his always thoroughly modern arrangements and masterful production approach. The resulting collection is a bona fide Sergio Mendes classic-- a kaleidoscopic album that underscores the maestro's ear for addictive melodies, as well as his ability to cast incredibly talented singers and musicians from all over the world.
Mendes was still living in Brazil during the momentous era between the late '50s and the early '60s when the samba-based bossa nova was born. In fact, he was one of the first practitioners of the new genre, together with composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, guitarist Joao Gilberto and lyricist Vinicius de Moraes.
Serious Mendes aficionados will recognize Carlinhos Brown as the principal songwriter on Brasileiro, the seminal 1992 session that saw Mendes changing gears and exploring Bahian rhythms and sounds. A virtuoso percussionist, singer and songwriter, Brown has become famous for his funky song structures and deep percussion textures. "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 fact, there is one element that unifies the songs in Encanto, and that's the joy that can be heard in the voices of Mendes' collaborators. No matter what country, demographic or genre they belong to, they were all thrilled to record with the maestro, which speaks volumes about the timeless appeal of Sergio's unique style.
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...