“Sean, why have you never featured anything from South America on Sonic Breakfast before?” asked an imaginary friend the other day.
I had to concede that I had no answer to this question. The friend, created just so that I could find a way to begin this blog-post, had a point.
I knew the name of Sergio Mendes, one of the most successful Brazilian musicians of all time, but couldn’t ever recall listening to any of his compositions. Jazz piano with a bossa-nova beat was never high on my list of must listens. My horizons should have been broader. The World Cup in Brazil wasn’t the best for the English team and supporters but at least we were introduced to some new sounds.
I was sent a copy of Sergio Mendes’ new album, ‘Magic’, alongside a pretty lengthy press release. Maybe there would be things I’d appreciate within this record; for Mendes is ‘a grand conceptualiser’, ‘a truly singular artist’ and ‘curious and intuitive’.
Mendes makes considerable use of collaboration on this album. Janelle Monae, John Legend and Seu Jorge are names I recognise but the cast also includes names that are new to me; Milton Nascimento, Carlinhos Brown and Maria Gadu. They’re all given scope to show off their talents with Mendes almost taking a back seat in proceedings.
A couple of days ago I walked to the train station. It’s a forty minute walk from my house. There was a spit of rain but no downpour. I thought I’d put my headphones on and listen to ‘Magic’ as I walked. I was transported back to the summer. There’s such a sunny warmth within this music that it can’t fail to energise, even if the weather is dismal. Thirty minutes later, I was at the train station.
‘Magic’ – it’ll give you a spring in your step and put a smile on your face.