Not counting reissues, the last time we heard from singer and songwriter Marcos Valle was on 2010's brilliant Estática. During the 1970s and '80s, the original Brazilian beach boy (now a "beach grandfather" at 76) was globally infamous for his trademark brand of party music woven from disco, electro-boogie, jazz-funk, and samba. Co-produced, arranged, and mixed by Daniel Maunick, Sempre is an unapologetic return to elements of that groove-conscious sound wed to contemporary production. His all-star backing musicians here include Azymuth bassist Alex Malheiros (responsible for many of Brazil's funkiest low-end pyrotechnics), a horn section that includes Valle's longtime trumpeter Jesse Sadock, saxophonist Marcelo Martins, and trombonist Paulinho Guitarra, as well as the dazzling percussion talents of Armando Marcal, who has worked with everyone from Paul Simon and Pat Metheny to Ivan Lins and João Bosco.
Opener "Olha Quem Tá Chegando" recalls Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards in its textural architecture with funky, vamping guitars buoyed by fat, swirling horns, with Malheiros' popping bassline adorned by handclaps, whistles, etc. reflecting the depth of disco's penetration in delirious 21st century disco. "Minha Romã" (one of two tunes reprised at the end of the record with an instrumental version) recall some of Donald Byrd's '70s records with the Mizell Brothers, albeit with a much more active bassline. It's smooth, breezy, and euphoric, and offers a rearview nod to his 1983's smash "Estrela," one of Valle's -- and Brazil's -- biggest hits from the period. Like most tracks here, it falls in the six-minute range, perfect for 12" singles and remixes. "Odessia" is the set's longest jam at over nine minutes, complete with zig-zagging synths (courtesy of Maunick along with Rhodes piano), rolling snares, and tom-toms, all serving to underscore its pure boogie roots. "Alma" is one of two tunes here co-written by the producers. It commences sparely with sparkling Rhodes and a series of bluesy electric guitar licks before opening onto a field of sweet, lithe grooves. "Aviso Aos Navegantes," penned by longtime friend and songwriting collaborator Lulu Santos, marks the first time Valle has actually recorded one of his songs. Its uptempo, thumping bassline and percussive core usher it in as a rave-up dancefloor stomp. The set closers are fine instrumental versions of "Alma" and "Minha Roma," that reflect the elegant sensuality of Maunick's late-night club mix. Sempre is nostalgic but not in a kitschy manner. Valle abundantly illustrates that the forms he employed to such great success during the last century are far from creatively exhausted.