"Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66"
- Mas que nada
- Scarborough Fair
- Night And Day
- Like a Lover
- Agua De Beber
- Pais Tropical
- Look of Love
- The Fool On The Hill
- Watch What Happens
"Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66"
The child of a physician in Niterói, Brazil, Mendes attended the local conservatory with hopes of becoming a classical pianist. As his interest in jazz grew, he started playing in nightclubs in the late-1950s just as bossa nova, a jazz-inflected derivative of samba, was emerging. Mendes played with Antonio Carlos Jobim (regarded as a mentor) and many U.S. jazz musicians who toured Brazil.
Mendes formed the Sexteto Bossa Rio and recorded Dance Moderno in 1961. Touring Europe and the United States, Mendes recorded albums with Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann and played Carnegie Hall. Mendes moved to the U.S. in 1964 and cut two albums under the Sergio Mendes & Brasil '65 group name with Capitol Records and Atlantic Records.
Sergio became full partners with Richard Adler, a brooklyn-born American who had previously brought Bossa Trés plus two dancers, Joe Bennett and a Brasilian partner, to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show, in 1963. He was also accompanied by Antonio Carlos Jobin; Flavio Ramos, and Aloisio Olivera, a Record and TV producer from Rio. The Musicians Union, only allowed this group to appear on one TV show; one club appearance (Basin Street East) before ordering them to leave the U.S. When the new Group, Brasil '65 was formed, Shelly Mann, Bud Shank and other West Coast musicians, got Sergio and the others into the local Musicians Union. Adler and Mendes formed Brasil '65 which consisted of Jorge Ben, Wanda Sá, and Rosinia de Valença, as well as the Sergio Mendes TRIO. Various changes were made, Albums recorded at Atlantic Records, and Capitol, before Adler and Mendes agreed to record songs in English, by famous American and British composers, and added two girls up front to make the group visually appealing, and to create a unique sound. Adler called a friend, Jerry Dennon In Seattle, who called Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss to arrange an audition for A&M Records at their studio in the Hurok Building in Hollywood. They were signed to a contract and recorded Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, and changed the name to be like Herb's group, Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass. In 1969 Adler and Mendes separated, over specific 'Creative problems' between them, with Adler then selling his 50% interest in Brasil '66, all publishing, etc. Adler had introduced Mendes to Tito Puente, whom Adler had worked with for 3 years, to co-write a song, or for Sergio to record one of Puente's songs. Sergio refused, Santana recorded 'Oye Como Va' and the Santana & Puente relationship began.
When sales were tepid, he replaced his Brazilian born vocalist Wanda de Sá with the distinctive voice of Chicago native Lani Hall (who learned Mendes' Portuguese material phonetically), switched to Herb Alpert's A&M label, and released Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, an album that went platinum based largely on the success of the single "Mas Que Nada" (a Jorge Ben cover) and the personal support of Alpert, with whom Mendes toured regularly.
The original lineup of Brasil '66 was Mendes (piano), vocalists Lani Hall and Janis Hansen (singer), Bob Matthews (bass), José Soares (percussion) and João Palma (drums). John Pisano guested as guitarist. This line-up recorded three albums between 1966-1968 (including the best-selling Look Around LP), before there was a major personnel change for their fourth album Fool on the Hill.
Karen Philipp replaced Hansen as the second female vocalist, while veteran drummer Dom Um Romão teamed with Rubens Bassini to assume percussionist duties.Claudio Slon was to join the group as drummer in 1969, and played with Mendes for nearly a decade. Sebastiao Neto was the new bassist and Oscar Castro-Neves the guitarist. This line up had a more orchestrated and big band sound than their predecessors. Most significantly, in the early 1970s, lead singer Hall pursued a solo career and became Alpert's second wife. Some accounts claim that Mendes was upset with Alpert for years for "stealing" Hall away from his group.
Though his early singles with Brasil '66 (most notably "Mas Que Nada") met with some success, Mendes really burst into mainstream prominence when he performed the Oscar-nominated Burt Bacharach and Hal David song "The Look of Love" on the Academy Awards telecast in April 1968. Brasil '66's version of the song quickly shot into the top 10, peaking at #4 and eclipsing Dusty Springfield's version from the soundtrack of the movie, Casino Royale. Mendes spent the rest of 1968 enjoying consecutive top 10 and top 20 hits with his follow-up singles, "The Fool on the Hill" and "Scarborough Fair." From 1968 on, Mendes was arguably the biggest Brazilian star in the world, enjoying immense popularity worldwide and performing in venues as varied as stadium arenas and the White House, where he gave concerts for both Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon. The Brasil '66 group appeared at the World Expo in Osaka, Japan in June 1970.
Mendes' career in the U.S. stalled in the mid-1970s, but he remained very popular in South America and Japan. His two albums with Bell Records in 1973 and 1974 followed by several for Elektra from 1975 on, found Mendes continuing to mine the best in American pop music and post-Bossa writers of his native Brazil, while forging new directions in soul with collaborators like Stevie Wonder, who wrote Mendes' R&B-inflected minor hit, "The Real Thing."
In 1983, he rejoined Alpert's A&M records and enjoyed huge success with a self-titled album and several follow-up albums, all of which received considerable adult contemporary airplay with charting singles. "Never Gonna Let You Go", featuring vocals by Joe Pizzulo and Leza Miller, equalled the success of his 1968 single "The Look of Love" by reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; it also spent four weeks atop the Billboard adult contemporary chart. In 1984 he recorded the "Confetti" album, which had the hit songs "Olympia", which was also used as a theme song for the Olympic games that year and "Alibis". The '80s also found Mendes working with singer Lani Hall again on the song "No Place to Hide" from the Brasil '86 album, and as producer for her vocals on the title song for the James Bond film Never Say Never Again.
By the time Mendes released his Grammy-winning Elektra album Brasileiro in 1992, he was the undisputed master of pop-inflected Brazilian jazz. The late-1990s lounge music revival brought retrospection and respect to Mendes' oeuvre, particularly the classic Brasil '66 albums.