A new album by Sergio Mendes recorded between arrives with a documentary about his life and career.
Sergio Mendes is known worldwide for his characteristic style of pop samba; his career that for more than half a century also proved unsinkable. Mendes, who entered the scene with his instantly recognizable hit "Mas Que Nada" in the 1960s, and embraced new audiences with the same song reinterpreted on The Black Eyed Peas in the 2000s, has just turned 79.
Her new album, In the Key of Joy, will be released on February 28 on Concord Records. Recorded between Rio and Los Angeles, it features Common, the Compton Buddy rapper and the Colombian urban duo Cali y El Dandee, as well as Brazilian guitarist Guinga, the famous jazz experimentalist Hermeto Pascoal and the singer Gracinha Leporace (who is the wife of Mendes).
"I'm very curious and I love to learn," Mendes says to Billboard. "There is always something new and new that I can mix with Brazilian music and do something different".
Coinciding with the album comes a new documentary, also entitled In the Key of Joy, directed by John Scheinfeld (Chasing Trane). He tells the story of Mendes, from his childhood in Niterói, a city by the sea in front of Rio, and his first days as a pianist in the bossa nova scene in Copacabana, until his first years off in Los Angeles at Atlantic and on A&M records, his return to the top of the charts with The Black Eyed Peas and John Legend, and even the creation of his new album. Asked about his career, Mendes, in a good mood, attributes all this to “chance”.
A deluxe edition of the album In The Key of Joy will include a second disc with Mendes' classics heard in the document, such as "Pais Tropical", "Primitivo" and his cover of "The Look of Love", by Burt Bacharach.
During a telephone conversation at his home in Los Angeles, where he has lived for almost 6 decades, while still representing Brazilian music around the world, Mendes talked to Billboard about the joy of working with young musicians, capturing the spirit of Brazil and looking back. your career.
His new album and his career documentary share the title In the Key of Joy. Does that title summarize your approach to music?
I think that music has this function, to bring joy to people. And Brazilian music has a lot of that.
When I think of Brazilian music, the first words that come to mind are joy, party, party … I think it's in the spirit of people in general.
We will have the carnival now in February, millions and millions of people on the streets celebrating, and the same thing happened on New Year's Eve. So, it's a very commemorative culture. The problems are all over the world, and it has always been so, and we have many problems in Brazil. But when you see a child playing a drum on the street and dancing, this is really the spirit of Brazil.
What was your concept for this album?
It took me two years to do it. It is most of the time I have spent making an album; I took my time making songs, changing things, and I had a great time, a wonderful time, doing that. I decided that I wanted to write a lot of songs; the composing part of me went to the piano and started creating the melodies. The idea was not to make any cover like I did in the past. It was something very new, very new, with guests from Brazil that I love like Hermeto (Pascoal) and other guests from the United States, like Common and Buddy. The disc has the flavors of the diversity of Brazilian music; when you take a song by Hermeto and one by Guinga or Carlinhos Brown, they represent what I really like in Brazil in terms of composition and musicians.
Did you record in Rio and Los Angeles?
I wrote most of the songs here at my home in Los Angeles and then I went to Brazil. I recorded a lot of percussion in Brazil this time, which I love. Live percussion, not synthesized percussion. It is a rich thing in Brazil, there are so many rhythms, so this is on the album. There is a great percussionist named Pretinho Da Serrinha, he brought his brother and nephew, so this kind of percussion, you can only have it down there. I wanted to explore this past of Brazilian music and combine it with rap and other styles. I love the diversity of this album.
Collaboration is the cornerstone of his career, whether in his early days with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Cannonball Adderley or Herb Alpert, or in recent years with will.i.am or John Legend. In Chave da Alegria includes "La Noche Entera", with Cali and El Dandee. Do you like reggaeton?
Yes I like. I tried to add Brazilian elements like berimbau, cuica, to put the Brazilian flavor in rhythm. I wanted to do something in Spanish, I don't think I ever did anything in Spanish – I love the language and the rhythm, so I said: & # 39; I would like to create a Brazilian reggaeton. Carlinhos Brown wrote most of the song. I met these children, they are from Colombia and they are brothers, they loved the music. I said, "come on!"
I also did a song with a young Japanese rapper called Sky Hi. I go to Japan almost every year for the past 50 years. They really like my job, and I wanted to do something special for Japan this year. So I met this boy
and he wrote the lyrics in Japanese and rapped it. For Japan, there is a bonus track with "Sabor Do Rio" in Japanese. I don't know if it will be released here.
"Sabor Do Rio" is the song you recorded with Common…
I called Common and he came and listened to the music, loved the music and brought his own performance – giving that wonderful touch of Chicago to Rio de Janeiro … Common knew my music and my work with John Legend and all that.
There is a renewed energy from the young people I have known in my life since I met will.i.am. They all like my music. They are wonderful people, and I love the diversity and variety that they bring to them.
The release of this album coincides with the documentary by John Scheinfeld and the soundtrack album, which does not surprisingly open with "Mas Que Nada".
At first, I was kind of hesitating (about making the documentary). It is such a personal thing. But when I met John, I liked him very much. He's very sensitive. I said, "OK, come on!" We went back to Brazil and interviewed a lot of family, friends and musicians, and that gave him a good perspective to talk about my career. I'm very happy with that. It was a good experience for everyone, revisiting my journey. Very good.