A Sergio Mendes Christmas Mystery

Bossa Nova's Sergio Mendes has a Christmas Song mystery
These songs are as elusive as spotting Santa by your fireplace.Bossa Nova's Sergio Mendes has a Christmas Song mystery

Here’s a Brazilian Christmas surprise for even the most diehard Sergio Mendes fan.

A Sergio Mendes Christmas Mystery? Leave it to our research diggers at Connect Brazil to uncover musical stories like this one.

Sergio Mendes recorded a holiday hit?

Go ahead, ask that question of most any Sergio Mendes fan. You’ll probably get the same reaction we had when we discovered his version of ‘The Christmas Song’ several years ago.

It was promptly added to our Brazilian Christmas playlists, and we left it at that.

Because, when it comes to Billboard’s pop charts, Sergio Mendes is Brazil’s most popular musician on the international scene. He’s had 14 charting songs on Billboard.

Can you name Sergio Mendes’s first charting song?

Yep, it was ‘Mas Que Nada’ from Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66. Dozens more have become fan favorites, even though they have eluded the charts.

So, it’s easy to understand that finding Sergio’s seasonal samba was a pleasant surprise. More on that, below.

But recently, we came across a little discussion group thread in the A&M Corner forum and decided to follow it.

And guess what we found?

This holiday tune with that classic Brasil ’66 sound isn’t just a musical mystery. It’s actually the starting point of three more.

A Sergio Mendes Christmas Treat…

In fact, this ‘one-off’ wonder found life on an A&M promotional giveaway for the B.F. Goodrich tire company in 1968. ‘The Christmas Song’ by Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 is the second track on side one. Lani Hall and Kearem Phillip were the lead vocalists.

The album wasn’t made available for sale until several years later. And you can now order it as a stocking stuffer this year.

…Becomes A Global Gift.

Here’s another oddity in this Sergio Mendes Christmas mystery.

The version in the video below is not the version heard on the original 1968 promotional album, ¡Something Festive!. As near as we can tell, this version was meant only for the German and Japanese releases.

A Mendes Christmas Miracle

But wait, there’s more. In 2005, Sergio Mendes returned to the studio to re-record ‘The Christmas Song’.

This newer version was included on an album titled Holiday Jazz. It was sold exclusively at Target stores during the weeks leading up to Christmas. It was a bargain at $5.99.

The song was updated to reflect Sergio Mendes’ then-current sound. Gracinha Leporace and Dawn Bishop carry the vocals here. Although the arranger isn’t credited, the ‘high strings’ mimic the style created for Brasil ’66 by a young Dave Grusin.

The song opens by quoting the first several bars of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Waters of March.’

Word is that the band worked on the song during rehearsals for their concert appearance in Japan in July 2005. Incredibly, it was the first recording by Sergio Mendes in 10 years.


Finally, there’s this fact: Neither of these versions of ‘The Christmas Song’ has appeared on any of Sergio Mendes’s 44-plus albums.

This makes these two stocking stuffers from Sergio a very special musical treat for his fans. Enjoy!

A Sergio Mendes Christmas Mystery

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Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 | ‘The Christmas Song’ from Something Festive

Sergio Mendes | ‘The Christmas Song’ from Holiday Jazz