Immediately striking about Maria Mendes is her purity of tone and her lyrical phrasing. Her new album Innocentia is a distinct step forward in the career of the Portuguese-born singer. Themes like desire – think of the carless childhood summer days – and finding hope in dark times come along. There’s Brazilian music by Hermeto Pascoal and Heitor Villa-Lobos and dynamic contemporary jazz by her co-composer Martin Fondse and her band of Dutch all-stars. Special guest at the BIMHUIS is American pianist John Beasley, who performed with an awe-inspiring list of music icons including Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Dianne Reeves, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan and James Brown. The vocal jazz of Maria Mendes ties up all her different backgrounds: classical music, jazz, fado and latin. She studied in New York, Brussels, Rotterdam and Porto and is praised by greats like Quincy Jones and Hermeto Pascoal. ‘Singer Maria Mendes flies on her vocals in sparkling scats. She darts about with her flexible voice, with impeccable timing. No matter where she will turn, she knows how to do with her crystal clear, wordless singing. Even when she sings lyrics she knows how to connect her sentences with majestic flourishes’ (NRC Handelsblad).