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Sergio Mendes & Brasil 2003 at The Blue Note

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Sergio Mendes & Brasil 2003
November 18-November 23

Sergio Mendes was the top-selling Brazilian artist in the United States in the mid 1960's, with huge hit singles and albums that regularly made the Top Ten charts. His records with the historical group Brasil '66 were wildly successful both in the U.S. and Brazil, making him one of the most popular musicians in South America as well as an international music star.

Born in Brazil in 1941, Sergio Mendes began studying classical piano at the local conservatory at a young age. While he was living in Rio de Janeiro during the late 1950's, the new bossa nova sounds became the rage and, at age 15, he abandoned classical music in favor of the emerging style. He spent a great deal of time with other young Brazilian musicians trying to soak up as much music as he could from the pioneers of bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto, as well as from the American jazz giants from Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie to Charlie Byrd, Paul Winter, Roy Eldridge, and Herbie Mann, who were more and more frequently playing in Brazil.

In 1961 Mendes decided to form his own group, the Sexteto Bossa Rio. Heavily influenced by the music of Jobim, they made their first recording, Dance Moderno, shortly after. By 1962, Mendes was playing at Birdland in New York and had recorded an album with Cannonball Adderley. He decided to move to New York City in 1964 and, two years later, founded the band Brasil '66. The group's self-titled album, with its catchy mix of light jazz, bossa nova beats, and contemporary pop melodies, quickly climbed the music charts, propelled by the hit single “Mas Que Nada."

Brasil '66 recorded several more albums in the late 1960's and had a number of other hit songs, including covers of the Beatles' “Fool on the Hill" and of Otis Redding's “(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay." After a mildly successful attempt to revitalize Brasil '66 in the late 1970's with the band Sergio Mendes & Brasil '77, Mendes made a grand comeback in 1983 with Sergio Mendes, which 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." Recently, Mendes has toured with Brasil '99 - Brasil 2002, and has been integrating the sounds of Bahian hip-hop into his music. He remains an incredibly popular figure on the international music scene and can be seen at the Blue Note with the latest incarnation of his band, Brasil 2003.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

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