Sergio Mendes October 2, 2009
By Glen Creason
It certainly was what I expected when Brazilian music mainstreamer Sergio Mendez took the stage at the Performing Arts Center with his ten-member ensemble and began the bossa nova/samba grooves that typify his successes here in the states. I can remember far, far back when I was a wee lad the gently pulsating rhythms of Brazil 66 and a hit that reached high on the charts. That one song, called “Mas Que Nada” placed the Sergio Mendez name in the musical books for all time and then there were some other hits in the following decades that pushed him out of South America alone and into the global action. Not one to let the Pop music grass grow between his toes Mendes has always reached out beyond boundaries and has reinvented his music and himself in recent years, even teaming up with the Black Eyed Peas in fresh vintages.
At this performance in Cerritos Mendez was all over the musical map and crossed more genre than You Tube as he surprisingly made a young rapper named H2O a central figure in the proceedings. H did make the show lively and pumped up the crowd on songs that morphed from bossa nova to hip hop but Mendez, sitting calmly at his keyboard kept an even keel that steered the sounds firmly within the Brazilian current even when it was spiced by the rappers exhortations and gyrations. The enthusiastic crowd reacted to the old standbys like “the Girl from Ipanema,” “Samba Da,” “Berimbau,” the sensual “Let Me” and the swinging samba of “Minha Terra” but they still had time to wave their hands in the air and bounce in their seats a bit.