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Sergio Mendes

For most of the second half of the '60s, Sergio Mendes was the top-selling Brazilian artist in the United States, charting huge hit singles and LPs that regularly made the Top Five. His records with his group, Brasil '66, regularly straddled the domestic pop and international markets in America, getting played heavily on AM radio stations, both rock and easy listening, and he gave his label, A&M, something to offer light jazz listeners beyond the work of the company's co-founder, Herb Alpert. During this period, he also became an international music star and one of the most popular musicians in South America.

Born the son of a physician in Niteroi, Brazil, Mendes began studying music at the local conservatory while still a boy, with the intention of becoming a classical pianist. He was living in Rio de Janeiro as the bossa nova craze hit in the mid- to late '50s, and at age 15, he abandoned classical music in favor of bossa nova. Mendes began spending time with other young Brazilian musicians in Rio de Janeiro, absorbing the musical ferment around him in the company of such figures as Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto. Their company was augmented by the periodic visits of American jazz giants such as Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Byrd, Paul Winter, Roy Eldridge, and Herbie Mann. Mendes became the leader of his own group, the Sexteto Bossa Rio, and was heard with them by many visiting musicians. He made his first recording, Dance Moderno, in 1961 on the Philips Records label. By 1962, Mendes and his band were playing at Birdland in New York in an impromptu performance with Cannonball Adderley (who was officially on the bill). Mendes and Adderley cut an album together for Capitol Records that was released later that year.

His early music, represented on albums like Bossa Nova York and Girl from Ipanema, was heavily influenced by Antonio Carlos Jobim, on whose recording Mendes worked. Mendes liked what he had found on his visit to New York, and in 1964 he moved to the United States, initially to play on albums with Jobim and Art Farmer, and formed Brasil '65 the following year. The group recorded for Capitol without attracting too much notice at first. In 1966, however, Mendes and his band -- renamed Brasil '66 -- were signed to A&M Records and something seemed to click between the group and its audience.

The group, consisting in its first A&M incarnation of Mendes on keyboards, Bob Matthews on bass, João Palma on drums, Jose Soares as percussionist, Lani Hall (aka Mrs. Herb Alpert and A&M's co-founder) on vocals, and Janis Hansen on vocals, was successful upon the release of its first album for the label, with its mix of light jazz, a bossa nova beat, and contemporary soft pop melodies. Their self-titled debut LP rose to number six nationally, propelled by the presence of the single "Mas Que Nada." Their second album, Equinox, yielded a trio of minor hits, "Night and Day," "Constant Rain (Chove Chuva)," and "For Me," but their third, Look Around, rose to number five behind a number three single of the group's cover of the Beatles' "Fool on the Hill" and an accompanying hit with "Scarborough Fair," based on the Simon & Garfunkel version of the folk song. Crystal Illusions, from 1969, featured a version of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" and the hit single "Pretty World." Depending upon one's sensibilities, these covers -- especially "Fool on the Hill" and "Scarborough Fair" -- were either legitimate, internationalized pop versions of the originals, or they were "elevator music."

During this period, Mendes also made several recordings for Atlantic Records separate from his A&M deal, principally aimed at a light jazz audience, and several of them in association with Jobim. Art Farmer, Phil Woods, Hubert Laws, and Claire Fisher were among the jazz figures who appeared on these records, which never remotely attracted the same level of interest or sales as his records with Brasil '66. Mendes successfully walked a fine line between international and domestic audiences for most of the late '60s until the end of the decade. Ye-Me-Le was notably less successful than its predecessors, and its single, "Wichita Lineman," was only a minor hit. Mendes seemed to lose his commercial edge with the turn of the decade, and his next two A&M albums: Stillness, a folk-based collection that contained covers of Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" and Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth," and Primal Roots, an album of traditional Brazilian music, failed to make any impression on the charts whatsoever.

The group moved to the much smaller Bell Records label in 1973, and then Mendes jumped to Elektra for his first official solo album, Sergio Mendes. He relaunched his recording career two years later with Sergio Mendes & Brasil '77 to little avail, and then, after a five-year layoff from the public eye, Mendes returned to A&M in 1982. His 1983 comeback album, Sergio Mendes, was his first Top 40 album in nearly a decade and a half, and was accompanied by his biggest chart single ever, "Never Gonna Let You Go," which hit number four. Since then, Mendes has had limited chart success with the single "Alibis" and the LP Confetti. He remained a popular figure internationally, even when his record sales slumped in America, as evidenced by the fact that his entire A&M catalog (and much of his Atlantic work) from the '60s has been reissued on CD in Japan. Indeed, his popularity in the rest of the world, versus America, was even the basis for a comic vignette in one episode of the television series Seinfeld.

During the '90s, Mendes performed with a new group, Brasil '99, and more recently, Brasil 2000, and has been integrating the sounds of Bahian hip-hop into his music. In 1997, A&M's British division released a remastered double-CD set of the best of Mendes' music from his first seven years on the label. Most of Mendes' back catalog was reissued as the 21st century dawned, and in 2006, Concord Records released Timeless, his first album of newly recorded material in eight years. A mere two years later, Encanto appeared, including co-productions from will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas. A third album on Concord, Bom Tempo, was released in 2010. After appearances at numerous festivals and a global tour, Mendes took a short break before beginning to record again. He signed to Sony's revived OKeh imprint and cut a completely new set of songs in Los Angeles, Salvador, and Bahia, with a host of special guests and old friends, including John Legend, will.i.am., and Brazilian artists such as Carlinhos Brown, with whom he cut the first single, "One Nation," issued on One Love, One Rhythm: The 2014 FIFA World Cup Official Album. Mendes' album Magic was released in September. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Magic

1. Simbora (Feat. Carlinhos Brown)

3. Don't Say Goodbye (Feat. John Legend)

4. Sou Eu (Feat. Seu Jorge)

5. When I Fell In Love (Feat. Gracinha Leporace)

6. Meu Rio (Feat. Maria Gadu)

7. Visions Of You (Feat. Janelle Monae)

8. Samba De Roda (Feat. Aila Menezes & Gracinha Leporace)

9. Atlantica (Feat. Ana Carolina)

10. Olha A Rua (Feat. Milton Nascimento)

11. Hidden Waters (Feat. Gracinha Leporace)

12. Magic (Feat. Scott Mayo)

13. One Nation (Feat. Carlinhos Brown)

x

Track List: Encanto

1. The Look Of Love

2. Funky Bahia

3. Waters Of March

5. Somewhere In The Hills (O Morro Nao Tem Vez)

6. Lugar Comum

7. Dreamer

8. Morning In Rio

9. Y Vamos Ya (...Let's Go)

10. Catavento (Catavento E Girassol)

11. Acode

12. Agua De Beber

x

Track List: Brasileiro

1. Fanfarra (Cabua-Le-Le)

2. Magalenha

3. Indiado

4. What Is This?

5. Lua Soberana

6. Sambadouro

7. Senhoras Do Amazonas

8. Kalimba

9. Barabare

10. Esconjuros

11. Pipoca

12. Magano

13. Chorado

14. Fanfarra (Despedida)

x

Track List: Foursider

1. Mais Que Nada

2. One Note Samba + Spanish Flea

3. Bim Bom

4. Look Around

5. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

6. Watch What Happens

7. With A Little Help From My Friends

8. The Look Of Love

9. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

10. Wave

11. After Midnight

12. Chelsea Morning

13. The Fool On The Hill

14. For What It's Worth

15. Day Tripper

16. Crystal Illuions (Memorias De Marta Sare)

17. Pais Tropical

18. Ye-Me-Le

19. Lai Ladaia (Reza)

20. Promise Of A Fisherman

21. After Sunrise

x

Track List: Ye-Me-Le

1. Wichita Lineman

2. Norwegian Wood

3. Some Time Ago

4. Moanin'

5. Look Who's Mine

6. Ye-Me-Le

7. Easy To Be Hard

8. Where Are You Coming From?

9. Masquerade

10. What The World Needs Now

x

Track List: Look Around

1. With A Little Help From My Friends

2. Roda

3. Like A Lover

4. The Frog (1967)

5. Tristeza (Goodbye Sadness)

6. The Look Of Love

7. Prasizer Adeus (To Say Goodbye)

8. Batucuda (The Beat)

9. So Many Stars

10. Look Around

x

Track List: Equinox

1. Constant Rain (Chove Chuva)

2. Cinnamon And Clove

3. Watch What Happens

4. For Me

5. Bim-Bom

6. Night And Day

7. Triste

8. Gente

9. Wave

10. So Danco Samba (Jazz 'N' Samba)

x

Track List: Bom Tempo

1. Emorio

2. Maracatu Atomico

3. You And I

4. Ye-Me-Le

5. Magalenha

6. Orpheus

7. Pais Tropical

8. Maracatu (Nation Of Love)

9. The Real Thing

10. Caminos Cruzados

11. Caxanga

12. So Tinha De Ser Com Voce

x

Track List: Brasil '88

1. Bridges (Travessia)

2. Waters Of March

3. That's Enough For Me

4. Misturada

5. One More Lie

6. Midnight Lovers

7. Harley

8. Tiro Cruzado (Cross Fire)

9. Life Goes On

x

Track List: Crystal Illusions

1. (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

2. Viola

3. Song Of No Regrets

4. Salt Sea

5. Empty Faces

6. Pretty World

7. Dois Dias

8. You Stepped Out Of A Dream

9. Crystal Illusions

x

Track List: Don't Say Goodbye (Feat. John Legend) (Single)

1. Don't Say Goodbye (Feat. John Legend)

x

Track List: Emorio (Paul Oakenfold Club Mix) (Single)

x

Track List: Fool On The Hill

1. Fool On The Hill

2. Festa

3. Casa Forte

4. Canto Triste

5. Upa, Neguinho

6. Lapinha

7. Scarborough Fair

8. When The Summer Turns To Snow

9. Laia Ladaia (Reza)

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Calming, Romantic... There are NO Borders when it comes to music for the soul.
Report as inappropriate
Great example of talent knowing no borders. When you got it, you got it!
Report as inappropriate
One of my favorites! Muah!
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Never gonna let you go.once I have you your mine....hold your body close to mine...
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saw Sergio at the Westbury Music Fair!! My man still has it. God Bless. Another Fifty years
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LOVE THIS SONG.. how can't you not like the rhythm
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Dirty Cachi diff pigsty duty right dusty chi fruit out funk Ruth right fifth fight fight tofu hunch figure chug Vichy joyful sniff fjord muffin run r Jeff Hejira Jodr fjord knife journey hoofer gmkfr if mover jot offer nog off nod ejido fm keen node jade node nod duff modded bode mover. J odds vide j
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Haven't heard this song in forever
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Sergio Mendes Is The Man Early Years 1966To 2016. See you In Two Weeks
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ᵂᴼᵂ ᴵᵀˢ ᴮᴱᴱᴺ ᵀᴼᴼ ᴸᴼᴺᴳ. ᴺᴼᵂ. ᴺᴱᵛᴱᴿ ᴳᴼᴺᴺᴬ ᴸᴱᵀ ᵀᴴᴵˢ ˢᴼᴺᴳ ᴳᴼ.
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never going to let you go again will be sweetest thing it going to be mimi
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This whould be a good get back together song for me and ken because he just broke up with me just recently after 4 and one half years and he did hurt me emotionally a time or two throughout our relationship but we got passed it though and he let it be known he still loved me but it whould have been good if he had comminicated with me what he was thinking and feeling maybe it whould have saved me from a lot of anger and pain!
Report as inappropriate
dragonlady60 8 8
EXCELLANT... S E R G I O
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dragonlady60 8 8
I LOVE THIS MUSIC....TY SERGIO
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Yes. Thank you. Beautiful
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Never Gonna Let You Go ....
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Always liked to listen to Serge Mendes. Great sound.
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Love this music its relaxing
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dragonlady60 8 8
One of my faves from the 60s...Sergio was amazing and herb
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hlore58
I liked his earlier music with Brasil '66. My mom played it constantly and I still love it. It was always played at great dinner parties.
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melhor música
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Love this music I love bossa Jazz !!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️
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dragonlady60 8 8
Smooth..jazz y . . . s e x y
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dragonlady60 8 8
LOVE THIS MUSIC
Report as inappropriate
❤❤❤❤❤
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cynthia.more n o 7 9
:)
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dragonlady60 8 8
Brazilian music is amazing
Report as inappropriate
dragonlady60 8 8
Ty chickaboom u are so Right
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dragonlady60 8 8
SERGIO TY FOR THE MEMORIES
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Jazz all the way
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1956donna10, The Real Thing is on Sergio's album Sergio Mendes &The New Brasil '77 which unfortunatel y is not available here. :-( ...but it can be found on YouTube! :-)
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My favorite song ever!!!
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I like this song never gonna let you go!!!!!!
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dragonlady60 8 8
Sergio...exc e l l a n t
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Why no mention of, The Look Of Love? They performed it at the Academy Awards show.
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VIVA SERGIO MENDES ! ! ! ! ! !
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Michael Missiras
Trumpet/Corn e t / C o m p o s e r
NYC/ arctic1974@g m a i l . c o m

If there was ever a group to penetrate the American consciousnes s with Bossa Nova it was this one. I rember these records in the stores as a child in the 1960s.
Report as inappropriate
One of the great ensembles of Bossa Nova.

Michael Missiras
Cornet/Compo s e r
NYC/ arctic1974@g m a i l . c o m
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Trying to find the REAL THING
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No mention of Janis Hansen.or Karen Phillips in the bio......... .
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great song
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Too bad Brazil 65 didn't click. Fell for Mendes music back then. clayboy@comc a s t . n e t
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Love...
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Quite the talent.
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chickaboomvi n t a g e
Sergio&Herb I hope you guys read how much we love your music
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chickaboomvi n t a g e
Sergio and Herb you take me to a place I can't go by any other. Thanks
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dragonlady60 8 8
Live this music sergio. And. Herb
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dragonlady60 8 8
I love this man and this Brazilian music
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Fun, well-crafted music
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I am in love with love and BOSSA NOVA !!!!
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