Sergio Mendes At Jazz Forum

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Sergio Mendes attended a conservatory from age six to twelve, in hopes of becoming a classical pianist. Jazz became his biggest influence when he discovered Dave Brubeck at 15 and began leading his own groups.

(Sergio Mendes).

On Friday, October 13, at 8 pm, Jazz Forum Arts will present GRAMMY winning pianist, bandleader, and composer Sergio Mendes in an exclusive New York appearance at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, SUNY, in Purchase, NY. 

From the mid-‘60s to the late ‘70s, Sergio Mendes reached pop stardom, taking numerous albums and singles -- Brasil 66, “Mas Que Nada,” “The Look of Love” -- to the top of the pop charts. His latest CD, and first new album in eight years, Timeless (Concord Records/Starbucks Hear Music), is a collaboration with Black Eyed Peas producer/songwriter will.i.am that merges the Latin and African polyrhythms of Brazil’s urban music, samba and bossa nova, with American urban music. It features some of today’s biggest pop artists, including Black Eyed Peas, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, Q-Tip, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Jill Scott, and Stevie Wonder.

Born in 1941 the son of a physician in Niteroi, a town across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Mendes attended a conservatory from age six to twelve, in hopes of becoming a classical pianist. Jazz became his biggest influence when he discovered Dave Brubeck at 15 and began leading his own groups. By the late ‘50s he had formed the Bossa Rio Sextet, which became hugely popular all over Brazil. The band’s 1961 LP Voce ainda nao ouviu nada (“You haven’t heard anything…yet”), with arrangements by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Moacyr Santos, and Mendes, was a turning point in the history of instrumental music in Brazil. In 1962 the band performed at the Boss Nova Festival at Carnegie Hall, along with Jobim, Joao Gilberto, Stan Getz, and Charlie Byrd, later recording with Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann. Mendes was soon signed to Atlantic and released his first American record, The Swinger From Rio.

In 1964, Mendes left Brazil and moved to Los Angeles. In 1966 he formed a new band, adding the distinctive voice of Chicago native Lani Hall, creating the trademark two-female-voices sound that caught the attention of A&M Records’ Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, who released the platinum-selling Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66.

Touring internationally with Alpert’s own Tijuana Brass, Sergio Mendes immediately became the top-selling Brazilian artist of the decade, as Brasil ’66 reached the top of the Billboard singles charts with such smash hits as “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “The Fool on the Hill,” the Bacharach/David-penned “The Look of Love,” and their signature song, “Mas Que Nada” – an updated version of which kicks off the new Timeless CD. When Mendes performed the Oscar-nominated “The Look of Love” on the 1968 Academy Awards telecast, Brasil ‘66’s recording of the song quickly shot into the top 10, eclipsing Dusty Springfield’s from the soundtrack of “Casino Royale.” 

Mendes’ albums kept charting throughout the ‘70s, and in 1983, he scored one of his biggest hits with “Never Gonna Let You Go,” reaching the top of A/C, Pop and Black Singles charts. In 1993 Mendes won a GRAMMY Award for his album Brasileiro.  He has released more than 35 albums and continues to tour throughout the world.

Tickets for Jazz Forum Arts Presents Sergio Mendes on Friday, October 13 at The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College, SUNY, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY, at 8 pm are $55, $45, and $35 and available online at www.jazzforumarts.org or by calling Jazz Forum Arts (914-631-1000), or the Performing Arts Center Box Office (914-251-6200) or through their website www.artscenter.org. Jazz Forum Arts is sponsored by PACE University, NY State Council on the Arts and Westchester Arts Council.

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