|Article by Ogova Ondego
Published December 16, 2007
The 9th Cape Town International Jazz Festival (March 28-29, 2008) organisers have announced the inclusion of the award-winning Brazilian musician, SÃ©rgio Mendes, to the line-up of the initial 20 performers announced in November 2007. OGOVA ONDEGO writes.
“Given Mendes’s calibre,” says festival director Rashid Lombard, “we know that people that were doubtful about their attendance next year will now think twice. It’s a coup for the festival.”
In a press statement released through Thompson n Team, the festival organisers credit Mendes “More than any other Brazilian musician [for taking] samba and bossa nova to the rest of the world. Tunes like ‘Berimbau’ and ‘Bananeira’ are now part of the world’s musical pantheon because Mendes made them popular. ‘Mas Que Nada’, a tune that Mendes released with his Brasil-66 group was the first song sung in Portuguese to reach the top of Billboard charts. Since then, renowned artists such as Oscar Petersen, Hugh Masekela and Al Jarreau have done their own renditions of Mendes’s signature tune.”
The press release quotes an interview Mendes gave to Lexus Magazine Interactive “I’ve always tried to promote the music of Brazil all over the world. There is something very special about Brazilian music; the melodies, the rhythms, the sensuality and the joy.”
While other musicians performing at what is popularly referred to as ‘Africa’s grandest gathering’ will be announced in January 2008, those whose names were released in November 2007 include South Africans Bongani Sotshononda Project, Gavin Minter with the Mother City Jazz Orchestra, Leslie Klein-Smith Big Band, Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band, Big Idea, The Four Sounds feat Zelda Benjamin & Phyllis Madikwa, The Soul Brother, and and Zola; American The Bays, Najee, Ananda Project, Gerald Albright, The Manhattans feat. Gerald Alston & Blue Lovett and Kenny Barron Trio; and Japanese Hiromi. Others are Lennart Ã…berg Band of Sweden featuring American Peter Erskine, Tutu Puoane (a South African/Belgian collaboration) and Oliver Mtukudzi of Zimbabwe (never mind he is not jazz musician).
Starting his career in NiterÃ³i, Brazil, the 66-year old composer, arranger and pianist is said to have grown up listening to jazz pianists such as Art Tatum, Bud Powell and Horace Silver before he linked up with the greatest Brazilian composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Jobim arranged most of Mende’s earlier music.
When he moved to the United States in 1964, Mendes began his collaboration with musicians such as Herbie Mann, Stan Getz, Cannonball Adderley, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder.
Asked about his collaboration with groups such as Black Eyed Peas, Erykah Badu, John Legend and Jill Scott, Mendes states; “It turned into a wonderful marriage of rhythms because it’s all African rhythms and haunting melodies. It’s all about the same beats that we inherited from Africa.”
Besides appearing at the main festival event, Mendes is scheduled to perform at a Special Gala Dinner on March 27, 2008.