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Mas Que Nada
Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66
Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 perform "Mas Que Nada," from Eartha Kitt's Something Special 1967.
The original lineup of Brasil '66 was Mendes (piano), vocalists Lani Hall and Bibi Vogel (later replaced by Janis Hansen), Bob Matthews (bass), Jose Soares (percussion) and Joao Palma (drums).
Sergio Santos Mendes was born February 11, 1941 in Niteroi, Brazil. The pianist has over fifty-five releases, and plays bossa nova heavily crossed with jazz and funk. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2012 as co-writer of the song "Real In Rio" from the animated film Rio.
The child of a physician in Niteroi, 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 Tres plus two dancers, Joe Bennett and a Brazilian partner, to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, in 1963. He was also accompanied by Antonio Carlos Jobim; 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 Rosinha de Valença, as well as the Sergio Mendes Trio. The group recorded albums for Atlantic and Capitol.
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 No. 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.
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