Born the son of a physician in NiterÃ³i, Brazil, Mendes attended the local conservatory with hopes of becoming a classical pianist. As his interest in jazz grew, he started playing in nightclubs in the late-1950s just as bossa nova, a jazz-inflected derivative of samba, was taking off. Mendes played with Antonio Carlos Jobim (regarded as a mentor) and many U.S. jazz musicians who toured Brazil.
Mendes is married to Gracinha Leporace who regularly sings backing vocals for her husband and can also be heard on his 2006 version of the song Mas Que Nada with The Black Eyed Peas.
Mendes formed the Sexteto Bossa Rio and recorded Dance Moderno in 1961. Touring Europe and the United States, Mendes recorded albums with Cannonball Adderley and Herbie Mann and played Carnegie Hall. Mendes moved to the U.S. in 1964 and cut two albums under the Brasil '65 group name with ...
Track listing: Mas Que Nada (feat. The Black Eyed Peas)That Heat (feat. Erykah Badu & will.i.am)Berimbau/ConsolaÃ§ao (feat. Stevie Wonder & Gracinha Leporace)The Frog (feat. Q-Tip & will.i.am)Let Me (feat. Jill Scott & will.i.am)Bananeira (Banana Tree) (feat. Mr. Vegas)Surfboard (feat. will.i.am)Please Baby Don't (feat. John Legend)Samba Da BenÃ§Ã£o (Samba of the Blessing) (feat. Marcelo D2)Timeless (feat. India.Arie)Loose Ends (feat. Justin Timberlake, Pharoahe Monch & will.i.am)Fo'-Hop (Por Tras De Bras De Pina) (feat. Guinga & Marcelo D2)Lamento (No Morro) (feat. Maogani Quartet)E Menina (Hey Girl)Yes, Yes Y'All (feat. Black Thought, Chali 2na, Debi Nova & will.i.am)