Picks and Pans Review: Brasil '86

updated 09/22/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/22/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Sergio Mendes

"I love discovering new rhythms, new writers and new melodies and casting the right people to perform them," Mendes once said. To judge by this, his 15th release since coming to the States from his native Brazil two decades ago, the 45-year-old keyboardist-producer must be having a great time. Mendes' main discovery on this LP is co-producer Peter Wolf, the former member of Starship and El DeBarge. Almost every cut benefits from Wolf's arranging and synthesized keyboard, bass and drums. That's especially true on What Do We Mean to Each Other, a plush ballad that Wolf co-wrote with his wife, Ina. The hard-edged single Nonstop, belted out by the lusty-lunged Siedah Garrett, shows Wolf's influence, too. His is just the kind of modernizing touch that Mendes has always used to keep his group's sound fresh. Not that Sergio has forgotten more familiar collaborators. His current ensemble, which turns out an irresistible combination of Brazilian and American sounds, features a number of superb vocalists who have recorded with him before. Among them are Garrett, Mendes' wife, Gracinha Leporace, and Lani Hall (Mrs. Herb Alpert). Hall, particularly, is an illustration of Mendes' ability to blend old touches with new ones. Her voice helped propel his group onto the pop charts with such hits as Fool on the Hill and The Look of Love, back when it was known as just Brasil '66. (A&M)

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