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Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 : Mais Que Nada
taken from his self-titled album on A&R (1966)

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77 : Promesa De Un Pescador
taken from the album “Primal Roots” on A&R (1972)

Sergio Mendes (ft. Q-Tip & Will.I.Am) : The Frog
taken from the album “Timeless” on Concord (2006)

I gotta admit, I was really getting my hopes up about this Sergio project. Sure, the guy has had plenty of leanings towards the ever expanding empire of cheesy-dom, but I still have much respect for Will.I.Am (I can hear you folks jeering in the bleechers, but come on now, listen to how he flipped Jorge Ben’s “Comanche” back in ’98 and tell me that ain’t siiick) and I just kept hearing about more and more artists getting on the album (Erykah, John Legend, Pharoahe Monch, Marcelo D2, and even STEVIE for cryin out loud!), so I was honestly expecting some hotness. Well, “Timeless” doesn’t quite make the grade in my opinion. It’s comes across kind of like a lighter version of the Red Hot + Riot album, but not as badass (Sergio just doesn’t compete with Fela), not as diverse (I would have loved to hear Bugz freak some of this material), and it’s just not as much “Brazilian” as it is “Hip Hop”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, Hip Hop is good, we love Hip Hop, but I wish Sergio could have exploited his uniqueness a lot more. The sad thing is, whenever he does step up to solo, I usually wince and wish he hadn’t… I don’t want to get old like that.

This old school version of “Mais Que Nada” highlights the type of swinging, groovy, pop originality that I had hoped to see more of. When Sergio’s first A&R album (produced by highly herbie Herb Alpert) dropped in the U.S., it shook. It still shakes. That track is timeless. He continued swinging through the 60’s, fusing latin sounds with British and American pop and soul. There were a lot of cool, jazzy, swingin tunes that came out of it. The early seventies saw Sergio getting a bit funkier. “Promesa” has that nasty drum break (used by none other than Madlib on one of his many side projects) but it also has those elements of Afro-Brazilian music that make it so unique.

This new album ain’t bad, aside from a couple forgettable tracks and some very cheesy soloing, but it doesn’t have anything to really get me excited – so that’s dissappointing. “The Frog” is very playable, same with “Yes, Yes, Y’all” and a few others, but it’s basically just a hip hop track (is Sergio anywhere on this?) with a catchy Brazilian hook. I want to hear Quantic do a track on this album, and Ursula 1000, and Dangermouse could have really flipped one of these songs… oh well.