Here’s some Monday morning goodness for you. I have been a fan of Brazilian music, and I always pick up some Sergio Mendes when it’s around. I thought I had a copy of What It’s Worth around, but unfortunately it’s probably in some mess of records somewhere in this loft. Yesterday was a really great day here in Asbury Park. The temperature was in the upper 50’s, the boardwalk was filled like a summer day in it’s hey day, and I thought why not throw a curve ball and hit you with some SM on a Monday, and well, hope for a little bit of Summer in February. Here’s Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 with “Batucada (The Beat)” from Look Around on A & M Records.
Born the son of a physician in Niteroi, Brazil in 1941, Mendes was the top selling Brazilian musician in the United States in the 1960’s. Originally Mendes was studying classical piano, but that was aborted when the Bossa Nova craze hit. His music career would take off, and with peers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, plus influences by visiting American Jazz artists such as Stan Getz, Herbie Mann, Dizzie Gillespie and pushed Mendes further on. His first band as a leader was the Sexteto Bossa Rio, who eventually were billed at Birdland in NYC. Here he met Cannonball Adderly, who was a collaborator in 1962. He’s migrate to the United States in 1964, and started to release records for Capitol with Brasil ’65. Not garnishing much attention (or selling records), he would play along side Art Farmer and Jobim, rename his group Brasil ’66, and viola!, things started happening. It wasn’t a bad thing that he switched labels to A & M either. The band consisted of Mendes on keyboards, Bob Matthews on bass, João Palma on the drums, Jose Soares as a percussionist, Lani Hall (aka Mrs. Herb Alpert and A&M’s co-founder) on vocals, and Janis Hansen on vocals. This record was a mix of lighter Jazz, Bossa Nova, and some soft pop. The international hit “Mas Que Nada” came from this record, and the Mendes sound was born. It was well received, but it fell inbetween light Jazz and elevator music, depending how you looked upon it. Mendes was known for doing covers: from the Beatles to Otis Redding to Joni Mitchell and beyond, he adapted his Brazilian styles to these tunes. He would also go on to work with some Jazz artists as part of his record deal (on the Atlantic label), but his top of the world style during the 60’s would fade as the 70’s approached. A move to Bell Records in 1973 would have Mendes release a solo record shortly after that, the best football (or soccer) Lp cover Brasil ’77. The man was up and down until 1982, when he again made a comeback and had a Top 40 hit with “Never Gonna Let You Go”. As the latter part of his career came about, Mendes recorded with Brasil 1999 and 2000, and recently collaborated with Will.I.Am on a remix record of his music.
Batucada (The Beat) is a great upbeat number with Mendes’ keyboards and a great Brazilian beat throughout. To me it reminds me of a Summer day, or of a day at the beach such as I had today. The only thing missing today for me was a fresh Caipirinha made by my man DJ APB from Seattle, or some fresh seafood caught on some sort of spear. It’s easy for me to fall in love with this music because of the fond memories, and I hope you do too. Sergio may be a bit commercial for some people, but I don’t care, he’s good enough for Flea Market Funk. See you midweek. Keep Diggin’!