It’s ironic that right after the release of Nu Brazil 2, Sergio Mendes should again be ubiquitous—his version of Jorge Ben’s “Mas Que Nada is perhaps the most recognizable samba ever. Yet no soaring, big band arrangements distract on the engrossing Nu Brazil 2. Not on Jardim Camburi trip-hoppy jazz excursion on “Zémaria” or the James Brown funkiness that Dona Da Banca lays out on “Aleh.” Certainly Mendes doesn’t echo in DJ Dolores’s remix of BPM “Macaco” or Siri’s street-savvy “No Tranco.” The artists on this latest Nu installment are wired into the sounds emanating from abroad, incorporating them and making the sounds their own. The hits must follow.
On the other hand, for DJ Ray Velasquez, an international spinner with an ear for things Brazilian, pleasing crowds is paramount. His Samba Sunset unveils a tourist-friendly version of an Ipanema sunset, complete with near-nude babes and the men who watch them. Lust takes second place to atmosphere, however. So the sultry, sandy ambient groove of Calm’s “Sitting On The Beach” set the scene immediately. By the time Edu K’s remix of Otto’s “Bob” chills through the speakers, Mendes’s ghost is happily ensconced at the bar with a martini and a wink, channeling the cool vibes.