It has been more than eight years since Sergio Mendes last released an album, and many more years than that since he last had a major hit. Now, a broad circle of unlikely fans have conspired to bring

It has been more than eight years since Sergio Mendes last released an album, and many more years than that since he last had a major hit. Now, a broad circle of unlikely fans have conspired to bring the Brazilian pianist/arranger back to center stage via an adventuresome new recording. "Timeless," due this week, is a joint venture between Concord/Hear Music and will.i.am music. Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas produced the album and is also featured on many of its tracks. Other guests include his Peas bandmates, India.Arie, Q-Tip, Erykah Badu, John Legend and Justin Timberlake. India.Arie, Legend and Timberlake all wrote or co-wrote songs for the album.

"Timeless" -- which is titled after the new song written by Mendes and India.Arie -- features mostly older songs revamped and retooled for contemporary appeal including classics like "That Heat," written by Henry Mancini and recorded by Mendes and his group, Brasil '66, for their second album. Also included is "Mas Que Nada," the Jorge Ben track covered on the first Brasil '66 album. The international hit was many music fans' first glimpse of Brazilian music. The track peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.

"I hope those great melodies become popular; that the new kids hear the old melodies and enjoy them," Mendes says. He had stopped recording all those years, he says, "because really, I didn't have any kind of motivation." That changed when Will.i.am appeared at his doorstep three years ago, armed with Mendes' old vinyl albums, wanting to convince Mendes to play on a cut for the Black Eyed Peas' "Elephunk."

The result, Mendes says, "felt totally different from before. It just felt great, and fresh and unique. And a week later I said, 'You know, we should make a record together.'"