Sergio Mendes used a sold-out four-night stint at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse to celebrate his 50 years in the record business and to uncage his latest efforts -- two of the five songs he has contributed to the animated film "Rio."
He unveiled the songs at the end of a 80-minute showcase that included his classic "Mas Que Nada," which he has re-recorded for the film, plus his takes on the bossa nova songs by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Baden Powell, Lennon-McCartney's "The Fool on the Hill" and Bacharach-David's "The Look of Love." Mendes is scheduled to take his new show to Japan in April, which may now be a tentative plan, and jazz festivals in Europe this summer.
First though, he will return to hometown of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, to perform at the world premiere of "Rio," which 20th Century Fox will release internationally April 8 and in the U.S. on April 15. Jamie Foxx and will.i.am are among the film's talking and singing voices scheduled to attend the premier; Mendes and soundtrack contributors Bebel Gilberto, Carlinhos Brown and others are providing the musical entertainment at the March 22 bash. The soundtrack will be released April 5.
"Rio" is the first film Mendes has ever contributed original songs to in a recording career that started in 1961.
"The film is such a celebration of Brazilian life, of Carnival, the nature, the rhythms, the joy, the sensuality," says Mendes, the film's executive music director who brought in the celebrated Carlinhos Brown to contribute a contemporary Brazilian vibe. "It's nicely timed with my record."
His record is "Celebration: A Musical Journey," a two-CD compilation from Emarcy/Verve that starts with his debut, includes classics with his band Brasil '66 and '77, his 2006 collaborations with will.i.am and the Black Eyed Peas and a few new recordings.
Having spent the last five years blending samba and bossa nova with hip-hop, Mendes is unsure what direction his next recordings will take. "I'm always curious with life," says Mendes, who turned 70 in February. "I'm open minded so I don't know where I'm headed, ever -- I might be doing something in China. But it will always connect with my roots in Brazil and Africa. I'll keep bringing back those very hip, seductive melodies and rhythms."