|"There's no fancy chart here [on "When Sunny Gets Blue"], just Mr. Alpert playing Marvin Fisher's melody with much obvious love, delineating it deliberately and meaningfully. It's the most exposed and vulnerable Mr. Alpert has ever sounded on record."—Will Friedwald. You can hear "Chattanooga Choo Cho" and "Don't Cry" from Alpert's In the Mood on this edition of NPR's World Cafe. Photo by Chris Adjani.|
Apart from the way their careers and personal lives have been linked—Lani Hall, most famously a singer in Mr. Mendes's ensemble, who has been Mrs. Alpert since 1973—the two have a lot in common: They're both among the final artists who achieved blockbuster hits as interpreters of songs composed by others (prior to the takeover by singer-songwriters at the start of the 1970s). And, perhaps not coincidentally, they're also among the few hitmakers of the rock 'n' roll era whose appeal wasn't specific to any one generation. During The Great Society years, kids were buying the Rolling Stones and The Supremes, while their parents bought Dean Martin and Perry Como. But everybody bought Sergio Mendes's Brasil '66 and Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass.
Now Mr. Alpert's "In the Mood" (Shout! Factory) and Mr. Mendes's "Magic" (Sony) show the two auteurs at their best and, on different tracks, at their most populist—which is not always the same thing. "In the Mood" doesn't include the famous swing-era song that inspired the album's title, but it does begin with another landmark hit for the Glenn Miller Orchestra, "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The first sounds we hear on the album are electronically generated beats, which may cause you to assume for a minute that Mr. Alpert has changed the name of his ensemble to the Tijuana Techno. But the famous Harry Warren melody quickly arrives in the form of Mr. Alpert's signature brass sound....
|"John Legend's guest shot on 'Don't Say Goodbye' shows how perfect the Mendes sound is for backing up a wide range of celebrity singers."—Will Friedwald|
Mr. Mendes's "Magic" proves that his music has been, since his first album in the early '60s, a kind of musical feijoada, a Brazilian stew, in which the basic ingredient, the soup stock as it were, is Mr. Mendes's familiar samba beat…..Baritone Seu Jorge evokes both romance and a party atmosphere, whether singing or speaking, on "Sou Eu," a South American standard by composer Moacir Santos, whom Wynton Marsalis has dubbed "The Duke Ellington of Brazil." The beats on Milton Nascimento's "Olha a Rua" (with a vocal by the composer) and "One Nation," co-written by Mr. Mendes and guest vocalist Carlinhos Brown, both split the difference between dancing and parading down the street during Carnival. Deep-voiced Ana Carolina delivers the most sensual vocal of the set on "Atlantica"; Mika Mutti follows her with beautifully vocalized harmonica lines that turn the number into a virtual love duet, and then, when Mr. Mendes begins singing with the two of them, it becomes a ménage à trois. "Meu Rio," with a vocal by Maria Gadu, adds strings to the mix in the form of a solo cello and percussion in the form of handclaps, which suggests flamenco.In this excerpt from NPR's All Things Considered, Mendes talks about his first "big break." Below, the John Legend track from Magic.