A 1986 A&M album featuring a mix of Mendes' trademark Brazilian pop with vocals by Siedah Garrett and Joe Pizzulo, a traditional Brazilian styled tune "O Rio" (featuring the great Dori Caymmi on guitar and vocals), and a guest appearance by former Brasil '66 lead singer Lani Hall on "No Place To Hide".
The sound and band that served Sergio Mendes well on Fool on the Hill remain intact on Crystal Illusions, with few modifications. Dave Grusin is right there with a lush, haunting orchestral chart when needed; Lani Hall is thrust further into the vocal spotlight, as cool and alluring as ever in Portuguese or English. Mendes remained on the lookout for fresh Brazilian tunes, and he came up with a coup, one of the earliest covers of a Milton Nascimento tune to reach North America, "Vera Cruz" (with Hall's English lyrics, it became "Empty Faces"), as well as Dori Caymmi's "Dois Dias."
After bouncing around Philips, Atlantic, and Capitol playing Brazilian jazz or searching for an ideal blend of Brazilian and American pop, Sergio Mendes struck gold on his first try at A&M (then not much more than the home of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass and the Baja Marimba Band). He came up with a marvelously sleek, sexy formula: dual American female voices singing in English and Portuguese over a nifty three-man bossa nova rhythm/vocal section and Mendes' distinctly jazz-oriented piano, performing tight, infectious arrangements of carefully chosen tunes from Brazil, the U.S., and the U.K. The hit was Jorge Ben's "Mas Que Nada," given a catchy, tight bossa nova arrangement with the voice of Lani Hall soaring above the swinging rhythm section…
Reissue with the latest 24bit remastering. Features original cover artwork. Comes with a descripton in Japanese. That's Brasil 65, not Brasil 66 – a distinction that marks a key early stage for the great Sergio Mendes – heard here on one of his first albums to mix together bossa jazz and vocals! The approach here is a bit more like vintage bossa dates from Brazil – or a bit like some of the Verve bossa records too – as Sergio's core trio is at the heart of every tune, playing with a great jazzy approach – then augmented in different ways by alto and flute from Bud Shank, guitar from Rosinha De Valenca, and vocals from the lovely Wanda De Sah! Production is perfect – really in a classic Elenco Records mode – and titles include "Let Me", "Consolacao", "Tristeza Em Mim", "Muito A Vontade", "Reza", "Berimbau", and "Aquarius".
The first Sergio Mendes LP bears few of the soft pop hallmarks of his subsequent Brasil '66 classics. Instead, Dance Moderno is a focused and straight-ahead collection of bossa nova grooves firmly in debt to the acknowledged master of the form, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Paired with a small, tight supporting unit, Mendes proves himself an inventive and intense pianist, shaped by both traditional Latin music and American jazz.
The Jazz Club series is an attractive addition to the Verve catalogue. With it's modern design and popular choice of repertoire, the Jazz Club is not only opened for Jazz fans, but for everyone that loves good music.
Sergio Mendes spent the '70s straying very far from his Brazilian roots. The Sergio Mendes album from 1975 is very much in the smooth soul/quiet storm bag and Magic Lady from 1979 is a straight disco record. Neither of the records are the disasters you might have already pegged them as. Sergio Mendes is actually a small pleasure and Magic Lady, while overly smooth, isn't an embarrassment. The best part about Sergio Mendes is the sweetly harmonizing vocals of Bonnie Bowden and Sondra Catton and the laid-back groove that percolates throughout the album. The songs are all covers. Some like the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" or Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free" have interesting arrangements, while some like Stevie Wonder's "I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever)" have hackneyed or meandering arrangements…