Brasileiro - Sérgio Mendes

This review is a departure from what I've done recently which is, well, recent music. I was at a show by a local jazz choir, who performed a song called "Magalenha", originally by Brazilian artist Sérgio Mendes. Their rendition was rousing, if a bit technically flawed, so I went home and put on the original version of the song. The recording style intrigued me, and the song itself was an improvement in its original version, so I went my way through the album.

It's been in my rotation since then, and I'm a big fan of it. Although I don't speak Portuguese even close to well enough to understand a bit of the lyrics, one of the songs is in English, and the rest are reasonably easily translatable.

This album falls into the classification of bossa nova, literally translating to "new trend" (or "new wave", depending on to which semantics you ascribe), a lyrical fusion of samba and jazz that was first played in the 1950s, in Brazil. It also draws influences from Latin pop of the '90s, and this yields an incredibly lively, bright sound, steeped in fluidity and this urge to bob your head along. This is a great album to put on if you need a pick-me-up. Even though I only know the translations of the songs as their vague notions and intentions, this album leaves me having a little bit brighter day than I did before.

This album features many artists with Mendes, including Carlinhos Brown, a Brazilian musician and traditional percussionist. The use of hand drums, cymbals, and the occasional triangle line create a very jazzy, pleasant atmosphere. His skill in the instruments, from fast, rhythmically intense parts to physical warping of the drum head to create fluid pitch bending adds an extra appreciable element to the album that keeps me engaged when listening to it. He has a real, tangible understanding of the medium and methods he's playing with, and that creates an ambiance of faith to the genre of which I am a fan. Hearing a true expert in their art is a good time, almost always.

In terms of specific songs that I'd recommend, "Magalenha" is a very enjoyable example of call-and-response lyrical style, as is "Indiado". Both are understandably good at making you move, and (through a good pair of headphones) lend a lot to appreciate, in terms of recording style, mixing, and mastering. Similarly, but without the call-and-response element, "Lua Soberana" is, simply put, a bop. 9/10.