Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66

Sergio Mendes' Favorite Things

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As Sergio Mendes reached the peak of his first A&M period with Brasil '66, his old company, Atlantic, continued to release new instrumental Mendes albums, of which this was the last. As on the Brasil '66 recordings of the time, Mendes exposes fresh material from the '60s bumper crop of great Brazilian songwriters: EdĂș Lobo, Dori Caymmi, Baden Powell, Chico Buarque, and Caetano Veloso. Dave Grusin returns with his swirling, ambitious orchestral arrangements; John Pisano is back on rhythm guitar (along with a lounge-like bossa nova take of his "So What's New"); and Mendes continues to toy with the Fender Rhodes electric piano and electric harpsichord on a number of cuts. Yet this album has an entirely different sound than Mendes' A&Ms, with a typically trebly Nesuhi Ertegun production and more varied rhythm tracks (only on the title track does the rhythm section sound like that of Brasil '66). Buarque's "A Banda" -- which Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass took to the singles charts in the fall of 1967 -- conjures the effect of a ramshackle marching band in a Brazilian parade, and Caymmi's "The Sea Is My Soil" is an evocative mood-swinging tone poem. Ertegun gives Mendes a shot at one of his own favorite things, "Comin' Home Baby," perhaps hoping for hit lightning to strike yet again on this tune (it didn't). Ultimately, this comes off as a pleasant side trip from Mendes' prime period.