For youngsters of the ’60s, the term “easy listening” denoted music for the square and old. It meant Andy Williams, the Lettermen, doctors’ waiting rooms, and the Zenith Stereo Console in the family den.
But Sérgio Mendes and Brasil ’66 made easy listening hip. Led by a young, bearded pianist from the state of Rio de Janeiro, the instrumental and vocal sextet fused Brazilian jazz with breezy sunshine pop. The music seemed designed to pour from an open-topped convertible as it whizzed toward Laguna Beach. Hits from Brazil took their place next to “The Fool on the Hill,” “Goin’ Out of My Head,” and “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” Everything pulsed with bossa rhythms and brimmed with tunefulness.