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The music is recognizably Sergio Mendes, but it is Mendes with an eye to what music needs to be in 2014.

Music Review: Sergio Mendes – ‘Magic’

Sergio Mendes, arguably the man most responsible creating the groundswell for Brazilian pop music and jazz in the U.S. back in the day (certainly one of the prime movers), makes his debut recording for the Okeh label with the newly released Magic. At age 73, the pianist, composer, with more than 50 albums to his credit, is still going strong. If the new album is any indication, he still has the magic.mendez

Collaborating with an extensive roster of talent—musicians, composers, producers, old hands and new voices, Brazilian and North American—he has put together a baker’s dozen tunes that add a contemporary vibe to the familiar Mendes sound. The music is recognizably Sergio Mendes, but it is Mendes with an eye to what music needs to be in 2014. So, in addition to what you might expect, you also get him working with will.i.am, the freshman3 and Cody Wise on “My, My, My, My Love” for a vital new sound, and with Janelle Monae on a jazzy “Visions of You” and John Legend on “Don’t Say Goodbye” a more typically Mendes sound, but with an English lyric and even a hint of scat.

That is not to say there isn’t plenty of the old Mendes magic in his work with singer, actor Seu Jorge on the traditional “Sou Eu” and Aila Menezes and Gracinha Leporace on an energetic version of “Samba de Roda.” Other guest vocalists include Milton Nascimento (“Olha A Rua”), Ana Carolina (“Atlantia”), and the young singer, guitarist Maria Gadu (“Meu Rio”). Gracinha Leporace is featured on two other tracks, “When I Fell in Love” and “Hidden Waters.”  Carlinhos Brown joint compositions open the album with “Simbora,” and close it with “One Nation,” the latter a vibrant joyous romp written for the World Cup.

Some folks at 73 would be ready for retirement, some are just getting started. Listen to the music on Magic and there is absolutely no question to which group Sergio Mendes belongs.

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