Yet another compilation to add to the many that already exist, Pure Bossa Nova is a collection of some of pianist, arranger, and composer Sergio Mendes' greatest hits from the mid-'60s, when he was most popular. Culled from work with his trio, his eponymous group, and full band Bossa Rio, label Planet Rhythm includes 14 songs from Mendes' extensive catalog on the album and manages to, thankfully, leave out what is practically an easy listening anthem, "The Girl from Ipanema." Some arrangements are more inspired by jazz ("Ela é Carioca," "O Amor Em Paz," "Batida Diferente") and others by samba ("Tristeza de Nós Dios," "Só Danço Samba"), but all are pure Mendes and, well, as the title of the album states, pure bossa nova. And while Mendes is generally classified as light or easy jazz, the songs aren't campy or saccharine like many other things in those categories. It may not be difficult music, but that doesn't mean it's not complex. The drums are always moving, there's a lot of improvisation, and plenty of great musicianship. For already stalwart fans of Mendes, this record doesn't bring anything new to a collection, but for those who want to explore one of the great composers and performers of the genre, Pure Bossa Nova is a perfect place to start.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown