Multi-Grammy Award-winning keyboardist Sergio Mendes and percussionist Sheila E. welcomed 2014 with a carnival extravaganza at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on New Years Eve joined by Brazilian Samba dancers dressed in multi-color feathers.
The night started with a samba funk intro followed by Sheila E., daughter of legendary percussionist Pete Escovedo, singing “Leader of the Band.” Her powerful voice and precise Latin beats put the audience on their feet celebrating the last moments of the year. Sheila, who has extensively worked with Prince in the 80’s and collaborated with artists such as Herbie Hancock, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé, played hits like “Love Bizarre” and finalized her set with “Glamorous Life,” leaving the public warmed up for Sergio’s Bossa-Nova showcase.
Mendes, who is originally from Rio de Janeiro and moved to the U.S. in 1964, took the stage with “Waters of March,” originally composed by his mentor Antonio Carlos Jobim. On a sequence of Jobim’s hits, “Ela e’ Carioca” and “Agua de Beber” set a tropical atmosphere to the public, letting them feel comfortable enough to try and sing a word or two in Portuguese. On a break from the Bossa, a percussion solo by Gibi, from Bahia, brought the mood back to carnival.
Sergio also paid homage to Chico Buarque with “O Que Sera” and made a fusion of Latin, jazz and rock while playing “Fool on the Hill” and “Never Gonna Let You Go.”
Sergio Mendes reached global stardom in the late 60s with his group Brasil ’66. He globally popularized the song “Mas Que Nada,” which was originally composed and recorded by Brazilian legend Jorge Ben in 1963. After playing this signature hit, Sheila E. joined Mendes on stage for another BenJor song “Pais Tropical.”
"Real In Rio," originally composed by Mendes for the 3D animation film Rio and his first Oscar nomination in 2012, closed the show carnival style with sambistas who transported the crowd to an imaginary street parade full of Brazilian ginga. The public was then welcomed to a complementary cocktail in the lobby to join the dancers for a picture, concluding their celebration with a positive and relaxed energy after the extravaganza party.
Text and photos by Paula Tripodi