March 16, 2005

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Sergio Mendes, timeless
Concord Records, 2006

The idea of Black Eyed Peas mastermind will.i.am collaborating with Brazilian music legend Sergio Mendes on an album is enough to raise eyebrows. The result of this collaboration is enough to move mountains.

timeless takes two seemingly different styles of music and culture and throws them together in a boiling pot.

What comes out of that boiling pot is a scalding fusion of Latin jazz and smooth R&B, music that’s just way too cool for any radio station to handle, and thank God for that. Songs like “Berimbau/Consolacao” (featuring Stevie Wonder and Gracinha Leporace) just wouldn’t translate well over radio waves, but it’s a damn fine song to drive to, with the windows down of course. Besides, some albums are meant to be hidden treasures; gems that escape the clutches of 11-teen-year-old folks who revere the musical accomplishments of Jessica Simpson.

timeless breaks the age barriers. It turns old-man Mendes into a really cool and hip dude, and transforms “damn-you-kids-and-your-rap” musicians, like the Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake, into respectable, maybe even scholarly, artists. will.i.am and Mendes enlisted the help of some of the classiest, most talented folks in R&B today, including Erykah Badu, Q-Tip, Black Thought of The Roots and John Legend. It’s easy to fall short of expectations with such an impressive host of guests, but, in fact, timeless supercedes all your giddy hopes. The album could be played as a backdrop to a cocktail party; it could be blasted out of your car stereo and it could be a great hook-up album, with songs like “Please Baby Don’t,” featuring John Legend.

It’s almost impossible to pick one track that is a must-listen. Each song is completely independent of the rest of the tracks. But rather than causing chaos due to such diversity, timeless creates a montage of everything that’s cool about music. Timberlake’s song, “Loose Ends,” is a lot cooler than you might want to admit at first, and is probably the best chance of a radio hit. A+

— Richie Victorinio