There is a surprising variety of material on Oceano, Sergio Mendes' 31st record. First off, the vocals are sung in many different languages, including Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili. Since only the rarest polyglot will be able to understand everything that is happening here vocally, by default much of the musical impact has to rest on the instrumental tracks. For the most part, they are very, very good. Some may take issue with some of the keyboard sounds that Mendes has made use of, but the bands themselves, as well as singers such as Gracinha Leporace-Mendes and Gilberto Gil, are of the highest caliber. A good amount of American talent is featured on Oceano. Pop-leaning fusion players such as Frank Zappa/Sting alumnus Vinnie Colaiuta, frequent Eric Clapton sideman Nathan East, and longtime Allan Holdsworth collaborator Jimmy Johnson all make their presence felt. Steve Tavaglione provides several solos on EWI as well as conventional sax, and they serve to color the music nicely. However strong the individual performances are, there is a bit of unnecessary repetition on Oceano, with three tracks being either duplicated or reprised later on in the album. As strong as compositions such as "Puzzle of Hearts" are, it is unnecessary to record two different versions (one in English and one in Italian) on the same album. "Anos Dourados," on the other hand, didn't need to be recorded once, let alone twice. A bit of a niche record in today's pop and jazz climate, but a mainly good one nevertheless.
AllMusic Review by Daniel Gioffre
feat: Gilberto Gil
feat: Caetano Veloso