Aidin Vaziri | Sergio Mendes knows how to get people moving. For more than five decades, the Brazilian producer, composer, keyboardist and vocalist has kept fans around the world on their toes with his bossa nova-inspired takes on songs like “The Look of Love,” “Mais Que Nada” and “Daytripper.” He’s winning over new ones too, thanks to his Oscar-nominated work on the soundtracks for the animated films “Rio” and “Rio 2.” This year, he celebrates the release of his breakthrough debut, “Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66.” Mendes also headlines Festival Napa Valley, performing at Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga on Wednesday, July 20. Mendes, 75, spoke to us from his home in Woodland Hills (Los Angeles County).
Q: You lived in the Bay Area when you first moved to the United States. Does it feel like coming home when you visit?
A: It does. I love it. I have nothing but great memories. I used to live in a houseboat in Sausalito and work at the Trident, as well as El Matador on Broadway. Every time I go, I have those memories. It’s a long time ago, but it feels like last week.
Q: You have been playing many of the songs in your set for more than 50 years. What keeps them fresh for you night after night?
A: I love the melodies. The arrangements change because the members of the band change. It’s the same “Fool on the Hill,” but we still enjoy it … I can see the reaction of the people — and now the younger audiences. It’s the power of the song.