"Mas que Nada" is a song written and originally performed by Jorge Ben on his debut album, which in a later cover version became the signature song of Sérgio Mendes. The song was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone as the 5th greatest Brazilian song.
In Brazilian Portuguese slang, mas, que nada (literally, "but, that [is] nothing") means "come on", "no way", "Whatever", or "Yeah, right!" In many recordings, the title song is incorrectly written "Mais que nada", Portuguese for "more than nothing".
The title should not be confused with the Spanish más que nada meaning "more than nothing" (in the sense of "mainly" or "principally").
Sergio Mendes covered the song on his album Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66 (1966). In the United States, the single reached #47 on the Billboard pop chart, as well as #4 on the easy listening chart. He recorded a new version for the 2011 animated film Rio and its soundtrack.
Mendes left Capitol to sign with trumpeter Herb Alpert and partner Jerry Moss's new label A&M in 1966, where the newly renamed Brazil '66 made its debut, featuring Bob Matthews on bass; Jose Soares on percussion; Joao Palma on percussion; and Lani Hall and Janis Hansen on vocals. The A&M album featured the hit single "Mais que nada." Sung in Portugese, it went gold the following year.
The group dented the top 40 with three singles from the follow-up gold album Equinox—"Night and Day," "Constant Rain (Chove chuva)," and "For Me." The next release, Fool on the Hill, which also went gold, featured a new lineup that featured vocalist Karen Phillips as a replacement for Hansen, and a rhythm section that consisted of Sebastio Neto, Dom Um Romao, Rubens Bassini, and Oscar Castro Neves. The single "Scarborough Fair" heightened their popularity still further.
Mendes cemented the group's renown with frequent television appearances and a concert tour with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and the Baja Marimba Band. He also added to his pop successes with more traditional jazz releases on the Atlantic Records label that featured such jazz musicians as Claire Fisher, Hubert Laws, Phil Woods, Art Farmer, and Jobim. In 1969, Brazil '66 released Crystal Illusions, which included cover versions of the Otis Redding and Steve Cropper composition "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay" and the single "Pretty World." The group's other 1969 release, Ye-Me-Le, included a cover of the Jimmy Webb song that became a major hit for Glen Campbell, "Wichita Lineman." They released Stillness (1971), which included cover versions of Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" and Stephen Still's Buffalo Springfield hit "For What It's Worth," and Primal Roots (1972), an album of Brazilian music. These two albums saw the end of the band's most commercially successful period. Singer Lani Hall, who had been married for a time to Herb Alpert, defected from the band after the release of Stillness to pursue a solo career as a jazz vocalist.