As the Beatles and Motown blanketed the AM airwaves in the '60s, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 broke onto the charts with a cool samba groove called “Mais Que Nada.” An upbeat break from his jazzy bossa nova of several years before, the track touched a nerve that was first sparked in American pop culture by the “Brazilian Bombshell,” Carmen Miranda. Earthy native rhythms took on new dimensions, serving as Mendes' foundation for further pop-jazz exploration. In Brazil, he had garnered wide acclaim as a jazz pianist recording albums with Cannonball Adderley, Paul Winter, and Herbie Mann. But tired of the Brazilian dictatorship, he moved to Los Angeles, where he met Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, who signed him to A&M Records. Mendes' career skyrocketed, but as the years wore on, his music was reduced to mundane “Muzak” background. Four years ago, Mendes won a Grammy for Brasiliero, his comeback on Elektra. His current Verve Forecast effort, Oceano, is a contemporary jazz fusion romp that has already received much love and will no doubt serve as a large part of his musical offering at the art deco digs of Bimbo's.
— Jesse “Chuy” Varela
Sergio Mendes and Brasil '99 perform Sunday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus. Tickets are $20; call 474-0365.