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Sergio Mendes

TIMELESS | Concord/Picante  
By KEN MICALLEF  |  January 23, 2006
3.5 3.5 Stars
Better known for packaging ’60s samba and bossa nova into stylized, radio-ready novelties for the US market than for breaking any new ground, venerable piano wiz Sergio Mendes enlistSergio Mendes - Timelesss the cream of contempo hip-pop/R&B (the Roots, John Legend, Q-Tip, Justin Timberlake) for this comeback album. Santana’s Supernatural created the rule book for this sort of project, but Mendes is no rock-star hack. Crossing booming hip-hop rhythms with even deeper Brazilian surdo and batucada, and using the layered vocals of Jill Scott and Erkyah Badu to recreate the exquisite sound of original Brazil ’66 vocalists Lani Hall and Wanda da Sah, Mendes finds a new wrinkle to exploit. Old- school Brazilian fans may not warm to dancehall monotony dropped over hallowed Brazilian songcraft, but the fission that occurs when bossa/samba flies over a bed of hip-hop is striking. Stevie Wonder wails beautiful harmonica over a buoyant “Berimbau/Consolacao”; Jobim’s still exotic “Surfboard” is given a wonderfully deranged treatment by the Black Eyed Peas’s; and India.Arie sounds peacefully earthy and at home on the heavily programmed but still humanized title track.
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