After dozens of visits to Chicago's City Winery, this was the first time I remember the entrance line snaking through the lobby and out the front door onto the sidewalk. The crowd came to see Sergio Mendes and the theater was full. I was fortunate to buy the last available seat - a stool at the bar near the back - and I was fortunate to see an excellent performance!
Mendes opened with the bossa nova music that made him a global sensation in the 1960s - a style of jazz exported from his native Brazil. He continued with some sambas and a set of songs featuring African-based rhythms of Brazil, before moving into some Rhythm and Blues songs.
Near the end of the show, the band performed some of his R&B hits from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, including "Going Out of My Head", "The Look of Love", "Fool on the Hill", and his biggest hit "Never Gonna Let You Go"!
Notably absent from the evening's playlist was the hip hop music into which he has been delving lately.
Mendes was able to get the crowd to its feet by playing the opening chord of "Mas Que Nada" - his first international hit from 1965! The entire audience rose and danced in rhythm to the music.
In addition to Mendes's keyboards, the band consisted of guitar, bass, drums, percussion, and Scott Mayo, who did everything. Mayo was impressive on flute, piano, keyboards, and vocals.
Two singers performed with the group: American Katie Hampton and Mendes's wife Gracinha Leporace. Hampton's voice resonated with the spirit of the music.
Most of the lyrics were in Portuguese, which mattered not at all to those of us who do not understand that language. Music is an international language that cuts across cultures and Sergio Mendes proved that on this night.