Picks and Pans Review: Sergio Mendes
Mendes has shrugged off his temporary slip into the disco rut as well as his perennial fixation with twin-digit monikers (as in Brazil 66, his first famous group). This album just concentrates on Mendes' wonderful instinct for lively, Latin-tinged pop. He has put together the keenest team of players and the best material he's had since bursting on the international music scene in the mid-'60s. His lush, large ensemble sound is particularly refreshing in contrast to the stripped-down "minimalist" techno-pop style of so many young bands. Sergio is also still as shrewd a talent scout as he is a gifted rhythmologist and arranger. This album will be remembered for the wonderful vocal work of Leza Miller and Joe Pizzulo, with their affecting duet of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil's Never Gonna Let You Go. The other standout is arranger-guitarist-songwriter Michael Sembello, who has his own album due out this summer. Mendes can still sink into ruts, as shown by the hackneyed Life in the Movies or the commonplace Carnaval, but the rest of his LP shows that, at 42, Mendes still has some new tricks on tracks.