What great timing! We recently reviewed a similar work of fusion and really warmed up to the genre — an amalgam of jazz, funk, hip-hop, Brazilian rap, and electronica. Now here comes an old friend from the past injecting a jarring jolt of reggae, bossa nova, salsa, samba, disco, and Latino influence to serve up an irresistible high energy “get-up-and-dance” masterpiece. Sergo Mendes’ Bom Tempo comes in two versions: original and “remixed”; both include twelve tracks.
Mendes and various incarnations of “Brazil ‘66” have been working since the early sixties and burst onto the scene in 1968 with a cover of “The Look of Love” by Bacharach-David. With the support of Herb Alpert (touring partners), Mendes went on to score several top forty hits with covers of “The Fool on the Hill” and “Scarborough Fair”. Mendes has persevered for over forty years and now brings us Bom Tempo (good times) and it sounds as if he and the artists he assembled for this project enjoyed every cut. This is a high energy, feel good, can’t sit still listening experience.
Woodwinds, strings, percussion and brass take the lead with synthesizer and rhythm tracks providing a stable background. The live musicians add so much and relieved me of my fears that this would be a “pre-programmed electronic disco” quagmire. All the musicians are named for each track in lengthy, booklet style liner notes. Five different vocalists are featured on several of the numbers with my favorites being Carlinhos Brown and Nayanna Holley on both “You and I” and “Emorio”. Brown handles lead vocals on “Magalenha,” a hot folk samba that demands the listener get up and move.
Mendes produced this CD himself and credits Jack Burk as executive producer. Bom Tempo Brasil – Remixed features remixes by Paul Oakenfold, Moto Blanco, Mario C and Bimbo Jones, and includes a new remix of “Mas Que Nada” by NERVO.
If you seek a definition of “smooth”, try track eight, “Maracatu (Nation of Love)” featuring Seu Jorge and Gracinha Leoporace (Mendes’ wife) on vocals. It’s as relaxing as a soft breeze on a hot summer night. These two CD’s provide a variety of genres and moods for casual listeners and energized dancers alike.
Prior to the success of “The Look of Love”, Mendes and Brazil ‘66 had their first hit with a cover of Jorge Ben’s “Mas Que Nada” (in Brazilian slang, means “come on” or “no way”) which over the years has become his signature song. It is included in the “Remix” version and serves not only as a tribute to his roots, but evidence that a classic is still a classic even when remixed. The Black-Eyed Peas also covered “Mas Que Nada” with Mendes sitting in, and it was referred to as “hip-hop samba” by the lead vocalist/rapper.
I recently asked, “Why would a fifty-eight year old man like hip-hop?” An associate responded with “Why not? Dismiss genres at your own peril is the lesson here. I frequently hear people do this with country and am shocked at all the talented artists and musicians they deny themselves the pleasure of experiencing.” Sergo Mendes’ Bom Tempo is sure to delight (and surprise) long time fans and is a convincing introduction for newbies.