With exuberant Brazilian beats variously smoldering and at full flame, In the Key of Joy (Concord Records, 2019) archives the sound and the ambiance that defines Sergio Mendes. In 2020, the composer, keyboardist and vocalist celebrates more than sixty years in the music industry with this release.
No matter how many beautiful songs and engaging records Mendes has provided over the years, many of a certain age will always first conjure up Sergio Mendes and Brazil '66. The 1960s produced a musical tapestry that was near limitless in its emotional depth and diversification. Mendes firmly yet delicately grabbed hold of that joy with both hands and has never let go. He has expressed it in pop, jazz, Brazilian and beyond. In 1968 we were treated to his spicy take on Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love" and the heartbeat of Latin romance was within us. That sound and mood has playfully filled the air ever since.
In the Key of Joy kicks off with a visit from Common on the feisty "Sabor Do Rio." This, along with the title track, with rapper Buddy, illustrate Mendes' ability to stay current and explore new territory, while never sacrificing any of his core sound. Chico Brown's catchy acoustic guitar work is augmented by vocalist Shelea on "Catch the Wave." Mendes shuns the collaborative with his own jaunty piano skills on "Romance in Copacabana." His days with bossa nova legend Antonio Carlos Jobim are remembered with pianist and co-writer Joao Donato playing a duet on the upbeat "Muganga." It's also a family affair as Mendes' wife, singer and muse Gracinha Leporace joins in the fun and Joe Pizzulo's daughter, Sugar Jones, sings "Samba in Heaven." Pizzulo himself adds a reconnect with Mendes on "Love Came Between Us." Long time collaborators Hernan Pascal and Guinga join the party as well. A true celebration of family, friends and music. On the final track, Guinga's snappy guitar grooves signify that the celebration continues.
Released in conjunction with a bright documentary of his career, In the Key of Joy is at once a homage to the past and a step forward. This is a concept record. Breezy, bright, and infectious tunes are generally not the making of a concept record. But again, Sergio Mendes does what he does best. The concept is simple. Relax, get comfortable and breathe in the joy.
Disc 1: Sabor Do Rio; Bora La; La Noche Entera; Samba In Heaven; Muganga; In The Key Of Joy; Love Came Between Us; Catch The Wave;
Romance In Copacabana; This Is It; Time Goes By; Tangara Disc 2: Mas Que Nada; Agua De Beber; Primitive; Lamento; Pais Tropical: Reza;
Consolacao; Going Out of My Head; The Frog; Morro Velho; The Look Of Love; Constant Rain; So Many Stars; Tonga; Never Gonna Let You Go;
Sergio Mendes: pianos; Leo Costa: drums; Andre de Santana: bass; Paul Jackson Jr.: guitar; Mika Mutti: acoustic guitar, synths & rhythm design,
Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Contemporary / Smooth Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz Jam Band Latin Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal