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Live Reviews

JVC Jazz Festival: Sergio Mendes & Zap Mama
June 21, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Carnegie Hall
New York, NY

Two worlds came together on June 21 at Carnegie Hall as Zap Mama opened for Brazil's legendary Sergio Mendes. With the backing of a six-piece band, bandleader Marie Daulne's extravagant looks and sound made quite an impression. Many audience members who were expecting an evening dedicated to bossa nova seemed quite surprised with Daulne's eclectic musical palette, which included Latin, funk and African beats. Mendes, on the other hand, played a set closer to expectations.


At one point during the Zap Mama’s set, the group showed its improvisational prowess where the three vocalists riffed on the names of two audience members (Jessica and Jeffrey). Another highlight of the show was when Daulne had a scatting “dialogue” with the drummer by doing a call-and-response with him, imitating percussive sounds using African tongue-click techniques. The Latin-themed tune was well received, and fans were literally dancing in their seats.


Bossa Nova veteran Sergio Mendes came in shortly after, opening with a groovy samba that set the tone for his performance which blended his earlier tunes from Brasil '66 with his more recent releases, including songs from this year's Encanto (Concord Records).


He started out with “Ela E Carioca,” played as a tribute to its composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim. He followed that with “Samba Da Minha Terra,” a classic samba by Dorival Caymmi that is featured on the classic Getz/Gilberto album.


One of the highlights of Mendes’ performance was “So Many Stars,” a song originally recorded by Sarah Vaughan on the 1987 Brazilian Romance album, which he produced. Played with a laid-back bossa-inflected arrangement, it emphasized the instruments and the vocals to perfection. Mendes also explored his back catalogue with his endearing take on The Beatles' “Fool On The Hill.”


The climax of the night came with Baden Powell's “Berimbau,” which featured the talented percussionist brothers Meia-Noite and Gibi. Though it was really Meia-Noite's show, it was spectacular to see both of them take the front stage and share a duet on the pandeiro. Rapper H20 filled in for Black Eyed Peas’ (who produced Encanto) for new versions of “The Look Of Love” and “Agua De Beber,” a song featured on Encanto, which has successfull