Herb Alpert Presents “presented” to the world a unique group and sound that entertains and impresses in equal measure

At the young age of 25 Sergio Mendes was already an experienced musician in the burgeoning bossa nova movement. He had already paid his dues by playing in the night clubs during the 50’s and had already released a few albums. However, it was not until the release of “Herb Alpert Presents” that Sergio Mendes really solidified the sound and style that would characterize his musical career for decades.

Herb Alpert Presents  - Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66

Herb Alpert Presents – Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66

One of the major factors for this was the new personnel that Sergio Mendes collaborated with. The most striking and obvious is the debut of Lani Hall. Her haunting voice that would become one of the group’s trademarks was first head on this record. Aside from being remarkably distinct, she proved to be quite dynamic rendering different sounds and moods effortlessly. Though Hall stole the show, her vocal partner Bibi Vogel (to be replaced by Janis Hansen on subsequent releases) was also an important ingredient in this successful mix. Her accompanying singing allows for a multi-track vocal arrangement that  was yet another trademark of the group. This feature of the group was particularly effective for choruses.

The album’s biggest hit and one of the most recognizable bossa nova recordings “Mas Que Nada”  greatly benefited from this. For this song, the two ,female vocalists were helped by male singers as well. Mendes’ playing, as it was for most of their albums was lively and meticulous. The group was not afraid to include unexpected vocal additives and unusual instrumental elements such as the finger snap that is heard throughout the song. This track was also one to highlight Herb Alpert’s work as a producer. His creative decisions are what provided the stage for the cool and vivacious experience of the album.  He provided appropriate pockets sound for each musical section and allowed for Sergio’s playing to always stand out, even amongst the flurry of sounds around him. “Slow Hot Wind” is another highlight. It’s sweltering musical atmosphere is heightened by the chilly vocals on display. It exposes the darker side of this typically sunny group.

Herb Alpert Presents, was a landmark album as shown by its induction in the Grammy Hall of Fame. It marked the beginning of a group and sound that allocated a special place in the music of that time. Incorporating pop elements more heavily than most bossa nova acts of the time while also being one of the most technically proficient groups in their category made for a mix that was just as commercially viable as it was artistically impressive.  A wonderful debut for the group.

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Released: 1966

Genre :Bossa Nova

Length :25:47

Label :A&M

Producers: Herb Alpert, Jerry Moss

1.Mas Que Nada (Jorge Ben)

2.One Note Samba / Spanish Flea (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Newton Mendonça)

3.The Joker (Leslie Bricusse / Anthony Newley)

4.Going Out of My Head (Teddy Randazzo / Bobby Weinstein)

5.Tim Dom Dom (Chim Dome Dome) (João Mello / Clodoaldo Brito)

6.Day Tripper (John Lennon / Paul McCartney) [printed on LP as ‘Daytripper’]

7.Água de Beber  (Antonio Carlos Jobim / Vinícius de Moraes / Norman Gimbel)

8.Slow Hot Wind (Henry Mancini / Norman Gimbel)

9.O Pato  (Jayme Silva / Neuza Teixeira)

10.Berimbau (Baden Powell / Vinícius de Moraes)