Reviews of shows from the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts and other local venues published by the Los Cerritos Community News. The writer and paper are in their twentieth year of covering these events.

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Location: Fear City, Ca., United States

"My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre - as ants to a picnic, as the boll weevil to a cotton field." George Sanders in "All About Eve"

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Sergio Mendes October 2, 2009

Sergio Mendez Sambas While H2O Raps at Cerritos

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.
Strange things were happening in the hall as my reviewers pen was stolen from my press kit at the intermission but I was saved by the House Manager once more and was able to make notes on the much more eclectic second half. The music began with a genuine 1980’s musical melodrama “Never Going to Let You Go” sung by vocalist Giuseppe who followed with a less potent but equally sentimental John Legend composition “Please Baby Don’t.” H2O took over again and got the audience hip hopping as high as middle-aged folks can hop but then returned them to yesterday with the lush, samba version of “Fool on the Hill” that was hit for Sergio Mendes in the late sixties. One of the most enjoyable parts of the concert was the steadying influence and sweet Portuguese singing of Mrs. Mendes, aka Gracinha Leporace who shone amongst two other backup singers probably half her age. Mendes did have a strong band which he allowed plenty of space to work including a fine bassist, spotlight loving percussionist and drummer Mike Shapiro. The show closed with the pair of blockbusters: a revved up “Look of Love” that went from bossa nova to party-rap-groove with H2O pumping up the jam and the expansive and throbbing “Mas Que Nada” that went far beyond the mellow sounds the emanated from transistor radios back in the day.


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