Isabella Mendes
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Isabella Mendes

Hamden, Connecticut, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016

Hamden, Connecticut, United States
Established on Jan, 2016
Band Jazz Latin




"Brazilian singer brings Bossa Nova Project to Milford Center"

Structural engineering may have lost one of its bright young stars, but the Connecticut music scene has gained a passionate advocate of happy music that helps the world connect. Music triumphed, but it wasn’t always a sure thing, Isabella Mendes said in a recent telephone chat.

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mendes came to the United States in 1999 at 15, along with her parents and two older sisters, so her father could accept a post-doctorate fellowship at Yale University. They settled in Hamden, where Mendes continues to live, teach and work from her home-office.

“I was always good at math and science; I enjoyed it,” she said. So when it came time to go to college Mendes decided to follow in her father’s footsteps.

She attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, receiving a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering followed by a master’s degree in business administration.

She was fortunate to find engineering jobs immediately out of college while continuing to play piano, sing and compose. Eventually, the life of a full-time musician won out. The multi-talented Mendes, a piano student since age 4, brings her “Bossa Nova Project,” founded last year, to the Milford Arts Council Center for the Arts on Sunday, Jan. 21.
According to MAC, Mendes is known for “her eclectic mix of American jazz standards, authentic bossa nova, Brazilian jazz and a hint of pop in her original songs.” She will be accompanied by Itaiguara Brandao on bass, Samuel Martinelli on drums, David Cordeiro on guitar and vocals and John Collinge on sax and flute.

Through her life, Mendes had piano and composition lessons with masters in Sao Paulo, adding voice and jazz to her studies in New Haven. Some of her mentors have included Douglas Weeks, Frederick Bianchi, John Delorey and Richard Falco.

MAC concert-goers can expect to hear some of her favorite music: “ ‘Marina,’ by Dorival Caymmi; the (title is) the name of a girl, but the song is about how women don’t need makeup to be beautiful; ‘Cade a MPB,’ by Roberto Menescal (which represents popular Brazilian music), and ‘Brigas Nunca Mais,’ by A.C. Jobim, meaning ‘no more fights,’ she said.

“The project was inspired by the original bossa nova movement, which took place during the Brazilian ‘Golden Era’ in the ’60s, when Brazil was booming, culturally, socially and economically,” Mendes said.

Her project brings together a diversity of music: Samba, with its African slave origins, classical European influences and American jazz, she said.

Mendes’ desire: “Let’s make music; music is such a powerful catalyst to communicate. Our sole goal is to bring people together, to have the opportunity to connect and to bring happiness to the world through music. Music is such a powerful language,” she said.

The concert will have cabaret seating; patrons may bring drinks and snacks. Wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks also will be available for purchase.; Twitter: @PhyllisASBoros - CT Post

"Brazilian Native Isabella Mendes Serves Slice of Sao Paulo at New Haven Jazz Festival"

Just as she’s fluent and elegantly at ease in both Portuguese and English, the rising, young Brazilian-born, singer/songwriter and pianist Isabella Mendes is also much at home with her seemingly contradictory dual careers in music and engineering.

A native of Sao Paulo who immigrated with her family at 14 to New Haven, Mendes is today both a luminary in the festive nighttime world of samba, bossa nova, and jazz, and by day, a much-respected structural engineer and academician in her quite serious, math-and-science rooted, full-time job at the Yale School of Management.

Mendes, a Hamden resident who’s celebrating the release this month of her sparkling solo debut disc, Blame Destiny, is the opening act for the celebrated jazz diva Karrin Allyson on Saturday, August 22, at the free New Haven Jazz Festival on the Elm City’s Green.

Mendes sees absolutely no contradiction in commuting daily, as she does, between the seemingly disparate worlds of the art of creating Brazilian jazz and the science of designing bridges and buildings. Both worlds, she insists quite happily, are harmonious and, she adds, thankfully, great places to be at only 31, even though she admits that her heart belongs to music.

A high honors graduate with a civil engineering degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, Mendes, who is best known as the hip pianist and bel canto-toned lead singer for the sophisticated, swinging Southern Connecticut-based Brazilian group Sambeleza, maintains that her two professions, which exist in the parallel worlds of her working life, share the common ground of being both analytical and creative.
The industrious engineer and busy musician said that just as she designs everything as an engineer with concern for structure, materials and logical guidelines, so she also does, in a similar, analytical and creative way, as a musician designing her sleekly crafted, solidly structured and aesthetically pleasing improvisations and compositions.

Mendes's original works, including the seven savory selections on her debut disc are mostly celebratory, melodic pieces that warmly embrace jazz, Brazilian music, rock, pop, and the romantic traditions of classic American Songbook ballads, seasoned with a dash of original Mendes flair, feeling, sweetness, and light.

Her expressive range is wide, spanning everything from a life-affirming, lyrical, loving elegy for her late fiancé, who died three years ago, in her song called “Dragonfly,” to a fine and mellow number named “Gypsy.”

Among the delight-filled selections on her independently produced debut disc, which was financed totally by her earnings from gigs, is an amusing, upbeat lament to love’s fleeting impermanence called “Three Months.” Rollicking along on an amusing beat, it almost sounds like a drinking song lamenting, in a vital, upbeat manner, the cold-hearted fact that lovers often lack world enough and time before the marvel of romance too suddenly dies.

Whether in structural engineering or music, Mendes creates and shapes works with the distinctive materials that each discipline has to offer. It doesn’t matter if she’s working with the tangible, visible concreteness of engineering, or she’s at the mic or the keyboard transforming the abstract musical concepts of harmony, melody and rhythm into warm, vibrant works of art.

Just as in engineering, she said by phone from her Hamden home, “there’s a structure in music with notes and how they connect with one another, as with scales, chords and the cycle of fifths.”

“The blues, for example, have a certain form and chord progression that needs to be there. That’s what makes the blues be the blues,” she said of working with the blues and the abstract truth of music’s basic building blocks.

What makes Mendes be Mendes has been two of the great passions in her life, music and math. The lifetime affair with numbers and notes began when she was a precociously gifted child, the youngest of three siblings in an education-valuing household in Sao Paulo that included her two older sisters, her father, a physician, and her mother, a lawyer,

“I was very drawn to math and music as a young child,” Mendes said of these two, early powerful, life-shaping forces. “Music and math were my biggest passions as a kid.” As a child, she participated in many piano competitions, concerts and master classes. In her early teens, she earned a scholarship at Magda Tagliaferro, one of the top music schools in Sao Paulo, and was comfortably rooted at home in Brazil basking in her love for her family and her music.

“I was so young and didn’t want to leave Sao Paulo. I was classically trained and I was into the music there,” Mendes said of her childhood before coming to America. “Had I stayed, I would most likely have gone into music, because I had more connections there, and would have felt more comfortable in that world making a living for myself in Brazil. I came with my parents and my sisters to New Haven. So at least I had that, and think that made the transition a bit easier.” - WNPR

"New Haven Jazz Festival Celebrates Female Artists"

By: The Arts Paper
Local Musician Isabella Mendes, Grammy Nominee Karrin Allyson to Perform.

This year's New Haven Jazz Festival, scheduled to take place on Saturday, August 22, on the New Haven green, will celebrate Women in Jazz.
(Full Article on Link) - The Arts Paper




The Bossa Nova Project was founded by Brazilian singer-songwriter/pianist, Isabella Mendes, with the intent to bring people together to share happiness through music. The project was inspired by the original Bossa Nova movement which took place during the Brazilian "Golden Era" in the 60’s, when Brazil was booming, culturally, socially and economically. Bossa Nova brought people together through the music.  It began as a collaboration between friends and musicians, coming together without pretense or ego but more with a genuine interest in the new music.  Musicians such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Nara Leão, Carlos Lyra, João Gilberto and others, would gather at each other's apartments to play and sing songs that celebrated the beach, beauty, "Carioca" life and nature while speaking of Love and Happiness.  The goal of the Bossa Nova Project is to replicate that original intent: to share beautiful music with others in order to bring people together and to bring Happiness to the world. 

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