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Sergio Mendes

Famous for his easy-listening Brazilian-flavored pop hits during the late 1960s, Sergio Mendes has been a household name for four decades. Born Feb. 11, 1941 in Niteroi, Brazil, Mendes studied at a conservatory as a child with the goal of becoming a classical pianist. But after he heard the new bossa nova music, he joined in and dropped classical music. Mendes led the Sexteto Bossa Rio, made his recording debut (Dance Moderno) in 1961, and the following year was in New York, recording with Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann. In 1965 he formed Brasil ’65 which recorded for Capitol but was largely ignored. The following year, Mendes started Brasil ’66, signed with A&M and became a regular on the pop charts. Brasil ’66’s mixture of bossa-nova, pop and melodic jazz resulted in accessible and joyful music that appealed to many audiences. Among the hits were “Mas Que Nada,” “The Look Of Love,” “Fool On The Hill,” “Scarborough Fair,” “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay and “Pretty World.” The top-selling Brazilian artist in the United States, Mendes (who also composed “So Many Stars”) found time to make a few more jazz-oriented albums under his own name, utilizing Art Farmer, Phil Woods and Hubert Laws in the personnel. After maintaining a low profile, he made a comeback in 1975 with his group Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’77. In 1983 he had a hit single, “Never Gonna Let You Go.” Very popular not only in the U.S. but throughout South America and Japan, Mendes toured in the 1990s with Brasil ’99 and Brasil 2000. His 2006 Concord release Timeless utilizes hip hop (including guest artists and the Black Eyed Peas) along with Mendes’ signature sound.