in '68, did Sergio intend to replace Lani with Gracinha Leporace?

Intuitive Samba

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I know that the sudden change in the line-up (personnel) in "Brasil '66" that took place in early 1968 has been discussed on this forum before -- but those threads are probably locked by now, I think.

Anyway ...

He is a new angle and possible way of thinking about this topic --

Someone suggested that Lani was actually part of the purge -- not just Janis Hansen, and the other musicians in the first line-up of B'66.
(And someone posited/mused that he couldn't imagine Lani complaining (like the others were), and I agree.)


Maybe, just maybe -- Sergio had taken a liking to Gracinha Leporace by early 1968 -- and had her in mind as his preferred lead vocalist.
For one thing (This is a minor (possible) factor), both Lani and the Brasilian Gracinha had dark hair, so maybe some of the audience might not notice the difference in lead singer. (In fact, it's possible that some B'66 fans might have not known better than to assume, or be under the impression that Lani was, in fact, Brasilian, herself. She seemed (at least to non-Brasilians) to sing the Portuguese lyrics, convincingly.)


(Obviously, Sergio liked Gracinha Leporace -- because he's been married to her, to this day.)

Maybe, another line of thinking is that -- by 1968, Sergio felt that he had achieved enough success, fame, momentum, clout -- that he could go back to having an all-Brasilian cast (line-up of band members) and not need an American lead vocalist.


But, the firing of Brasil '66's first line-up took place right before "Look of Love" became Sergio's 2nd big big hit single, right? (So, it's not like Janis could have had any clout with having sung the lead (verses) on the latest big big hit single. Sergio didn't seem to have trouble replacing her with Karen Phillip, anyway.)

I dunno -- I'm just a fan who is guessing. I don't have any sources, than my own rational thought processes and whatever body of factual knowledge I have access to.
 

Intuitive Samba

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Gracinha, of course, sang on (at least one song on) the first album with this new (2nd) line-up: _Fool on the Hill_ -- and a lead vocal, no less (not just backing) -- "Lapinha"

Furthermore, someone mentioned that Sergio said that Gracinha sang with Lani on the title track of "Ye Me Le."

By 1969, Bossa Rio released its self-titled debut album, which featured Gracinha Leporace as female lead.
So, Sergio put that band together (I think) to provide her with a way of trying to reach an American (and world-wide) audience, since she wasn't in Brasil '66, at that point.


I also recall reading someone mention seeing 3 women -- Lani, Karen, and Gracinha fronting B'66 at a Sergio concert in 1970.
Maybe that's how Sergio was easing the transition to a new band without Lani -- getting the fans used to seeing Grachina onstage. The switch from Lani to Gracinha ended up taking place by 1971, rather than 3 years earlier, as it turned out.
 

Harry

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I believe that "Brasil '66", like the "Tijuana Brass", was thought to be a *sound* more than a *band* with specific members.
 

Harry

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It is true that many of the Brasil '66 albums featured band pictures, even if some of them weren't on the record. We know that Bibi Vogel appeared on the first A&M album but didn't sing a note on the record. And Gracinha, though "introduced" on FOOL ON THE HILL's "Lapinha", didn't appear in any pictures.
 

Michael Hagerty

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The Jazz Times piece on Lani tells the story---they all quit, including Lani. Herb convinced Lani to go get her job back from Sergio (and involved himself in the negotiation). My bet is Lapinha (with Grachina) was recorded while Lani was briefly gone, and the rest of the album was done with Lani back.

When Lani came back, Grachina was out of Brasil '66, so Sergio whips up Bossa Rio to keep her in his orbit. Two years later, when Lani quits for good (this time, according to the Jazz Times piece, it was Herb's idea), Grachina joins Brasil '66 for STILLNESS and beyond.
 

Brasil_Nut

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Gracinha, of course, sang on (at least one song on) the first album with this new (2nd) line-up: _Fool on the Hill_ -- and a lead vocal, no less (not just backing) -- "Lapinha"

Furthermore, someone mentioned that Sergio said that Gracinha sang with Lani on the title track of "Ye Me Le."

By 1969, Bossa Rio released its self-titled debut album, which featured Gracinha Leporace as female lead.
So, Sergio put that band together (I think) to provide her with a way of trying to reach an American (and world-wide) audience, since she wasn't in Brasil '66, at that point.


I also recall reading someone mention seeing 3 women -- Lani, Karen, and Gracinha fronting B'66 at a Sergio concert in 1970.
Maybe that's how Sergio was easing the transition to a new band without Lani -- getting the fans used to seeing Grachina onstage. The switch from Lani to Gracinha ended up taking place by 1971, rather than 3 years earlier, as it turned out.
I was one of a few who mentioned that Lani, Karen and Gracinha sang (live) with the group in its latter days. I recall seeing a concert (circa 1970) with all three.

That said, I just don't know if all three appeared together on any specific albums. Wish I did know, but I do not.

Only thing I do know is that (when it comes to all three), Gracinha was officially part of the group starting with Stillness.

Jon...the Brasil Nut
 

Mike Blakesley

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I don't know where it was, but SOMEwhere in the forum long ago there was a post from someone who had talked to Gracinha, and she stated that all three women appeared together in at least a couple of the songs from Stillness. I would bet those songs are "Viramundo," "Celebration of the Sunrise" and possibly "Chelsea Morning." There is a lovely bit of three-part harmony right at the end of "Righteous Life" -- I've always wondered if that was all three of them, too.

I remember an interview with one of the TJB bandmembers where he stated that Herb was always in the studio tinkering with songs.... maybe Sergio was the same way.
 

Brasil_Nut

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I think (don't quote me on this), the end of Righteous Life is Lani and Karen. As for Chelsea Morning, if you listen very carefully, you can hear Gracinha follow Lani and Karen in the echo/harmonization of many lines. I don't know for sure, but it sure sounds like all three singing that song.

I get this impression from seeing all three of them perform on stage, circa 1970.

Jon...the "Brasil Nut"
 

rockdoctor

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Gracinha, of course, sang on (at least one song on) the first album with this new (2nd) line-up: _Fool on the Hill_ -- and a lead vocal, no less (not just backing) -- "Lapinha"

Furthermore, someone mentioned that Sergio said that Gracinha sang with Lani on the title track of "Ye Me Le."

By 1969, Bossa Rio released its self-titled debut album, which featured Gracinha Leporace as female lead.
So, Sergio put that band together (I think) to provide her with a way of trying to reach an American (and world-wide) audience, since she wasn't in Brasil '66, at that point.

I also recall reading someone mention seeing 3 women -- Lani, Karen, and Gracinha fronting B'66 at a Sergio concert in 1970.
Maybe that's how Sergio was easing the transition to a new band without Lani -- getting the fans used to seeing Grachina onstage. The switch from Lani to Gracinha ended up taking place by 1971, rather than 3 years earlier, as it turned out.
I remember hearing Bossa Rio songs on the radio but they were not on the debut album. Does anyone know of any additional releases by them?
The two songs I heard were "Blackbird" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." the latter is not the same song by Elton John and Kiki Dee but has the same title.
 

Harry

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The album you're looking for is ALEGRIA!. It was released on Blue Thumb Records.

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ALEGRIA! was officially released on CD but is now quite rare. Also rare is their third LP, a live album from Japan.
 
Yes, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and "Blackbird" were the last two cuts on Bossa Rio's second (and last) studio album, ALEGRIA!, which was indeed released on Blue Thumb Records (not A&M) and produced by Sergio Mendes. The album contains ten cuts, including a version of "Zazueira," which is one of several highlights on the Tijuana Brass WARM album. "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" was written by the renowned team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. "Blackbird" was written by the (even more) renowned team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Charles
 

Mike Blakesley

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First time I ever heard the song "Blackbird" was on the radio, by Bossa Rio. I thought it WAS Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, since they were popular at the time, and through a crummy radio speaker, Bossa Rio did sound a bit like Brasil '66. I'm not sure how many years it took for me to find out who really sang the song! With most of the A&M (or A&M-related) artists who did Beatles covers, I like the A&M cover better than the Beatles original; but on this particular song I will admit I like the Beatles version the best.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Me too---and it took very nearly 20 years to discover it was Bossa Rio. I heard it once---when it was new---on KMPC in Los Angeles---thought it was Brasil '66, and never heard it again. YE-ME-LE hadn't been out that long, and it wasn't on that, so when STILLNESS appeared without it I figured it was something that never actually saw release.

Through a mutual friend, I had struck up an e-mail correspondence with KMPC's Roger Carroll around 1995, and after a few months of covering all sorts of topics (radio stories, mutual friends), I remembered "Blackbird" and brought it up, since the only place I'd heard it was on KMPC (this had not been an obsession---Roger's actually the last of half a dozen people from KMPC in that era who I'd become acquainted with in person or online and, frankly, I'd forgotten "Blackbird" entirely until something---I don't remember what---that Roger said).

Roger remembered the song, but couldn't remember the rest of the story. He reached out to his friend (and Herb's brother) Dave Alpert for the answer (It was Bossa Rio, not Brasil '66), and then told me.
 
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Michael Hagerty

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And...not that I want to stir up trouble or anything...

Herb was known for giving acts some time to prove themselves, making Bossa Rio's one LP on A&M and second on Blue Thumb kind of unusual at the time.

Was this one of the early cracks in Herb and Sergio's relationship (about to get a whole lot bigger with Lani leaving Brasil '66 the following year)?
 

Harry

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My memories of Bossa Rio are pretty clear. Back in 69, the radio station I listened to was an MOR station on FM, the FM side of the legenday WFIL in Philadelphia. They had followed their AM station's success by going to a more pop sound, but wouldn't play the loud rock of the day, only the softer side of things, and since stereo was a big deal back then, they emphasized playing great stereo records.

Every week, they'd feature an album that had just come out and would play many tracks from the album, once an hour, and I clearly remember them featuring the A&M album BOSSA RIO. They played "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" and "Day By Day" and "Up Up And Away" and "Old Devil Moon" from the album, and since it sounded so much like Sergio Mendes, I remember going to the local record store known as Canso Records. They claimed to be a "record distributor" and always got records before any other stores in the area. I bought BOSSA RIO and was delighted to see that it was produced by Sergio Mendes. The whole album had that "A&M feel" about it, from the drop-down logo to the fonts used.

I delighted in playing the album, and it quickly became a favorite in my arsenal of albums. I think my parents liked it too with the updating of some old classic songs from their era.

Then in 1970, it seemed like it all repeated. The station played ALEGRIA! tracks featured once an hour, and I recall that "With Your Love Now" and "Blackbird" had broken out to be played in their regular rotation. I remember again running to Canso Records and spotting ALEGRIA! in the racks and buying it. Then while examining the jacket, I was a bit stunned to see that it was on Blue Thumb Records. It was still produced by Sergio Mendes, and even the fonts looked like something A&M would use.

A postscript is that the radio station issued one of those promotional albums with tracks that they could license, and that album featured Bossa Rio's "Blackbird".

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Seeing that cover reminds me that the album also featured Vincent Bell's "Airport Theme" and I just saw the mention of his passing in this past week.

One other note about Bossa Rio. Their A&M album is cursed with the dreaded CSG processing, but the Blue Thumb album is not.
 

Rudy

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Then while examining the jacket, I was a bit stunned to see that it was on Blue Thumb Records. It was still produced by Sergio Mendes, and even the fonts looked like something A&M would use.
That surprised me when I got the sealed copy a few years ago--if you slipped the Blue Thumb graphics out and slipped an A&M label under it, the typsetting looked exactly like an A&M. But I'm thinking it is probably a matter of them using the same record pressing plant (which I believe is where the final typsetting for a label takes place, under the label's guidelines of course).

I swore I had uploaded the Bossa Rio Alegria! album to YouTube, but apparently not...
 

Rudy

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Herb was known for giving acts some time to prove themselves, making Bossa Rio's one LP on A&M and second on Blue Thumb kind of unusual at the time.

Was this one of the early cracks in Herb and Sergio's relationship (about to get a whole lot bigger with Lani leaving Brasil '66 the following year)?
Was that around the time A&M was trying to downplay their "classic" acts and get more into rock? I don't know when Alegria! was released but I'm thinking the A&M/CTi relationship ended around a similar time. I only wonder if it was some sort of housecleaning.

Or it could have been that the first Bossa Rio album did not sell in any significant numbers to offer them a chance at a second record.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Was that around the time A&M was trying to downplay their "classic" acts and get more into rock? I don't know when Alegria! was released but I'm thinking the A&M/CTi relationship ended around a similar time. I only wonder if it was some sort of housecleaning.

Or it could have been that the first Bossa Rio album did not sell in any significant numbers to offer them a chance at a second record.
It was that time, but the Carpenters got a second chance, and there was an existing relationship with Sergio—-which is why I wonder if this was an early crack in the friendship.
 
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Michael Hagerty

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It was recorded at A&M Studios, too, so that was a bit of "comfort".
And now that you say that, what we're overlooking is that the plan may have been for it to be an A&M release, it was rejected and Sergio took it to Blue Thumb, with artwork and packaging already done.
 

lj

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Back in late 1969 early 1970 "Blackbird" got a lot of airplay on the long gone KDEO AM here in San Diego. Between 1966 to early 1970 it was my go-to radio station as it played tons of Brasil 66 and the TJB songs and the great MOR vocalists of the day such as SInatra, Bennett, Peggy Lee, Steve & Eydie, and the likes which I immensely enjoyed. Then KDEO circa April 1970 went progressive rock and miraculously I discovered and transitioned over to listening to KBIG AM radio Catalina which had the same Brasil 66 and the TJB emphasis and the above mentioned vocalists on the playlist. How sweet it was. They also played a lot of the tracks from the Alegria album such as Marcos Valle's "With Your Love" and Dori Caymmi's "Open Up Your Heart". Bossa Rio had some great talent--Gracinha, Manfredo Fest, Pery Ribeiro and Octavio Bailly. Alas, by 1970, the glory days of Brazilian music in the USA had already come and gone.

Two Deejays in those days stand out. One was Ray Willis on KDEO from 1966. Interestingly, to my delight his deep baritone voice was later employed by KBIG in 1970. The other DJ was Rod Page on various radio stations in San DIego. He was a master story-teller and a lover of good jazz and exposed me to the sounds of the great Jackie & Roy and his two personal favorites--Sinatra and Carmen McRae.
 

Harry

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exposed me to the sounds of the great Jackie & Roy
I hadn't thought of Jackie + Roy for ages, but I do have one of their albums. It features as the last track on the album a version of "We Could Be Flying", which kind of brings the subject of the thread back to Lani...

 
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