Sergio & Brasil '05 at Lincoln Center -- Concert Review

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Brasil_Nut

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Sergio Mendes: Vintage 05? You bet!! Especially last evening at the Lincoln Center in beautiful Napa Valley, California.

The festivities opened with conductor Mike Luke directing the Napa Valley Symphony in four beautiful arrangements ranging from Leonard Bernstein's "Overture to Candide" and George Gershwin's "Promenade." They closed the first portion of the program with the overture from "West Side Story." Astounding!!

Following a brief intermission, Sergio Mendes & Brasil '05 took to the stage for an amazing, powerful hour of Brasilian beats. His vocalists, the lovely Gracinha Leporace, Jessica Taylor and Dawn Bishop sailed through the performance with ease, their voices a perfect blend of harmony. Sergio was lively and animated, often laughing or exchanging comments with Michael Shapiro on drums. The two have worked together for years; their chemistry is nothing short of infectious. The newest member of his band, the talented Bill Cantos, was the perfect companion to Sergio on keys. Bassist Leonardo Nobre and Guitarist Kleber Jorge played beautifully, providing acoustic accompaniment to Michael on drums and Meio Noite on percussion -- a tight, well-balanced blending of sounds.

The show opened with "Lua Soberana," "Pretty World" and "Roda." Sergio welcomed everyone, then swung into "The good old days" with "Desafinado." Gracinha and Jessica sung a fun, upbeat version of "The Waters Of March." The beautiful Jessica Taylor then took the spotlight with an entrancing solo version of "Dindi." Dawn Bishop followed with an orchestrated, Jazz-influenced version of "So Many Stars" that was nothing short of astounding.

"The Look Of Love" and "Fool On The Hill," which are usually performed toward the end of his shows, made their appearance in the form of a medley prior to the explosive percussion segment. Speaking of percussion, this portion of the show opened with a beautiful moog solo by Bill Cantos. Suddenly, the stage came alive and the girls swung into "A Felicidade," "Zanzibar" and a medley of familiar Brasilian chants. Shortly thereafter, Meio Noite and Michael Shapiro took turns amazing the audience with an incredible percussion segment -- very musical and entertaining.

Following this, Gracinha appeared in a different outfit. The stage darkened, she appeared in a single spotlight and broke into a beautiful, heartfelt version of "Anos Dourados." Awe inspiring to say the least. Jessica and Dawn, who also appeared in different costumes, reappeared to break into an heart-pounding version of "Ponteio," followed by a medley of "Viramundo" and "Magalenha." The show closed with Sergio's trademark "Mas Que Nada."

At this point, everyone in the theater was on their feet, clapping and singing along. The entire venue came alive -- the band swung into high gear, encouraging the audience to dance along. It was Carnival all over again, the feeling of Brasil permeating every corner of the theater. The standing ovation which followed brought the band back for "Voce Abusou" and "Tristeza." With that, Sergio thanked everyone for coming, bowed, introduced the Napa Symphony and closed with a happy, "That's it!!" A wonderful evening all the way around the board.

Mrs. Mendes (Gracinha Leporace), was kind enough to provide me and my guests (two other Mendes fans -- my best friend, Pete Blaz, and Jim Finigan -- "Boy Viramundo" here at the Corner, who came down from Oregon) with backstage passes. It was great to see and speak with everyone and Gracinha could not have been a more gracious hostess. She was pleased to hear that the three of them harmonized so well on stage. "I'm glad to hear that," she told us. "We can't hear each other when we're singing on stage, so it's great to hear that we are in balance from an audience point of view." She amused us with stories of how Bonnie Bowden had come to join the group and the fun they had working together. "Imagine," she laughed, "Here I am, a girl from Brasil. Then there's Bonnie, a girl from the South. And yet, it just worked. It clicked. We were the perfect combination -- just what Sergio was looking for at the time."

Gracinha is one of the loveliest, most down-to-earth talents I've had the pleasure to know. Jessica and Dawn are just as sweet. I was pleased to discover that Brasil '05 will make an appearance the last Saturday of April at Flint Center here in San Jose...you can well bet I'll be there!!

All in all, last night was a treat for all. Then again, being the talented band leader he is, Sergio and Company always put on a good show. For any and all who might be able to attend the San Jose performance, I encourage you to do so. You'll come away with a beat in your step and a smile in your heart. :)

Jon
 

Mike Blakesley

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What a set-list. A great balance "album" tracks and hit singles. I love it!

I wish I could see them someday but it'll likely never happen. (There's a DVD I wish would come out!)
 

Harry

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Great review Jon. We're all properly jealous.

I wish Sergio would discover that there are places in the East other than New York and do some of these great concert efforts like he does in the West.

Cleveland is a bit far for me, but we've got some great venues all up and down the Eastern seaboard from Boston to Virginia that I'd travel to for a night with Sergio & company.

Harry
 

Cortnee

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You know, many people think that Bill Cantos is the newest member of Sergio's band. Bill Cantos has played with Sergio in the past, it's been a few years at least.Bill Cantos plays for Sergio whenever Bill Brendle can't. It is bassist Leonardo Nobre that is Sergio's newest addition, Leonardo has only been with Sergio for about a year now.
 

Brasil_Nut

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Bill Cantos is the newest regular member of Sergio's band, as William Brendle has become Sergio's full time Musical Director on tour. Indeed, Bill has played with Sergio before, but not as a regular member of the band.

As for Leonardo Nobre, he has played with Sergio many times in the past.

Jon
 

seashorepiano

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Harry said:
Cleveland is a bit far for me, but we've got some great venues all up and down the Eastern seaboard from Boston to Virginia that I'd travel to for a night with Sergio & company.

There is room for hope. I saw Sergio and company at the Regattabar in Cambridge (next to Boston) on February 4th & 5th. Unfortunately, I never got around to posting the set-list. :sad:
 

Brasil_Nut

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Thanks Seashore!! I knew Sergio had recently played the Boston area, yet I couldn't remember the name of the venue.

Jon
 

A&Mguyfromwayback

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Cortnee said:
You know, many people think that Bill Cantos is the newest member of Sergio's band. Bill Cantos has played with Sergio in the past, it's been a few years at least.Bill Cantos plays for Sergio whenever Bill Brendle can't. It is bassist Leonardo Nobre that is Sergio's newest addition, Leonardo has only been with Sergio for about a year now.

Actually, Bill Cantos never worked with Sergio until a few months ago....I sent him the thread where we were talking about him before, and if you didn't see it, he wrote back a response to everybody!...

JTCW
 

Brasil_Nut

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Thank you, Jamal. It's true that Bill did respond to specifics here at the Corner. I recall that he sat in for Bill Brendle three years ago at a concert in Anaheim. Otherwise, you're right: he's the newest regular member of the group.

Regardless, he's a wonderful addition to the group. He plays with such truth and emotion, which comes through in everything he does. Bill is a great guy, an incredible talent and gifted musician. I've always been impressed by his ability to bring forth honesty in the way he sings, plays and writes. Bill and his wife are two of the most talented people on the music scene.

Jon
 

Cortnee

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Bill Cantos will certainly be an important member to sergio's band. Bill has been a big fan of Brasil 66 since his childhood, mainly because his older sister who was also a fan, was constantly playing her Sergio Mendes albums in the Cantos household.Bill himself has said that he wanted to be Sergio Mendes. He has alot to offer to Sergio Mendes. I know this because Bill has contributed alot to Kevyn Lettau's music, which is how I have become familiar with Bill Cantos.

The reason that I didn't think that Bill Cantos was a regular member of the band is because he recently toured with Phil collins in addition to playing with many other artists. Bill and his wife Mari will be performing with Dori Caymmi later this year.
 

Brasil_Nut

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You're so right, Cortnee. Bill did want to be Sergio Mendes, and he is truly honored to work and tour with Sergio.

On stage in Napa the other night, the two of them exchanged appreciative glances. Bill's opening to the percussion segment was so heartfelt, the entire theater held an aura of complete and total amazement. Bill Brendle always played with truth and beauty -- one of the best people I've seen share the keys with Sergio. Bill Cantos is just as marvelous -- his playing is amazing. In other words, you feel what he is saying musically -- the mark of a great artist.

I've long appreciated his work with artists such as Marcos Ariel and Justo Almario. As a matter of fact, he and Kevyn have collaborated on a few of these projects -- every one a joy.

As I said before, both Bill and his wife, Mari Falcone, are amazing artists. You're so right, Cortnee...Bill is an asset to Sergio's band.

Jon
 
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