Sergio Mendes: The Look of Love

It must be tiring to build your career by jumping on trends. Sergio Mendes has been doing just that for 40 years. He followed the U.S. craze for Brazilian music back in the 1960s, late to the party but still able to parlay it into substantial sales. He came up with the brilliant(?) idea of adding dates to the names of his bands (Brasil 65 or Brasil 66 or Brasil 77) to make sure everyone knew he was keeping up with the times. And now in 2008, he mixes in rap and programming and anything else he can beg, borrow or steal. But the song itself is a 1967-vintage tune, dustier than Dusty Springfield, that Mendes recorded as a Top 10 hit 40 years ago. But (did I say this already?) he has brought it up-to-date with some trendy gimmicks.

Now for the good news . . . Mendes possesses genuine talent and a great feel for commercial music. His records are usually smartly produced and quite listenable. Moreover, the lounge music revival of recent years plays to his strength, which is to craft a higher class of chill-out music. This critic wishes that he had taken a more artistic path over the decades, rather than sniffing out the money trail. I have listened to many of his recordings, enjoying them at times, but I still get no feel for his personal vision or character. Sergio Mendes might be the name of a corporation or syndicate for all the individuality of these tracks. But you have to take these CDs as they come to you. In this instance, Mendes has crafted a very clever arrangement with a potent beat. This disk has earned coveted shelf space on your local Starbucks counter, and I can envision legions of commuters bouncing brightly behind their steering wheels as Sergio Mendes guides them on their way to work. Well done, Mr. Mendes.

But what will you do next year?

June 17, 2008 · 1 comment


Previous Page | Next Page