Music Memories 7: Sergio Mendes

Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

This is the cover of the first Sergio Mendes album that I bought, but it wasn’t the first music I heard by him. Read on for details.


I guess I’m over the cold and even the snow, because yesterday I found myself wanting to listen to Sergio Mendes albums. To me, Sergio Mendes music is meant to be played in  warm or hot weather.

I believe the first time I saw and heard the group, they were on The Lloyd Thaxton Show promoting an album. If you never heard of Thaxton’s show, think American Bandstand in Los Angeles and Dick Clark with a sense of humor. Everyone I knew in high school watched American Bandstand; contrarian that I was, I watched Lloyd Thaxton. I bought my first vinyl Mendes album in  the spring of 1966, I believe, because it was the only album I could find. I wanted to listen to the albums he made as leader of the Sergio Mendes Trio. Later, those albums were re-released under the name of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’65, but they weren’t available.

Back to Sergio Mendes and Bossa Nova. Mendes has had a number of groups over the years, and I have enjoyed listening to most of them. My favorites have been his trio (a.k.a. Brasil ’65) and Brasil ’66. The trio’s female vocalist was Wanda de Sah. Lani Hall was the main vocalist for Brasil ’66, with t least two other backup vocalists over the years. Wanda de Sah was Brazilian, with a voice similar to Astrud Gilberto’s. I always found Gilberto’s voice a cross between wispy and wistful, and de Sah’s voice a bit more crisp. In fact in the song linked above, it almost sounds like she is attacking the lyrics. I love that song!

In contrast, I think Lani Hall’s voice (Lani is from the U.S. and learned the Portuguese lyrics phonetically) to be more colorful…if I can use that word. Overall I prefer de Sah’s singing, but there is a lot less recorded music available to listen to.

Of course, I’m comparing music recorded in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I also listen to more contemporary Brazilian music, but the older songs still draw me in. And I love listening to it by candle light on hot summer nights with the windows open. Boy, can I set a mood! I’m ready for a night like that right about now.