Duo with Joe Carter

My latest project working with my great friend and guitarist Joe Carter and sound engineer Scoot Amore. This project was inspired by Luciana Souza's recording Duos and by listening to Cesar Camargo Mariano and Romero Lubambo. Joe Carter and I have worked together for many years and have created beautiful sounds during our live performances. In this project, we hope to capture these live sounds in the studio. Check out our Duo page for more details, music and more!

The Bossa Nova Project

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. More in The Bossa Nova Project's page here



“… sveltely swinging Brazilian jazz … bosses of bossa nova …”

Owen McNally, Hartford Courant

" ... frisky spontaneous energy that’s bolstered by the audible whooping of the audience."

CD review from Yale Alumni Magazine

Sambeleza performs a wide variety of Brazilian songs - both old and new - with a jazz twist. Featured composers include Tom Jobim, Ivan Lins and Ary Barroso, as well as younger composers like Djavan, Dani and Debora Gurgel and Arlindo Cruz. The group also performs a number of original compositions to round out the mix. Brasil (spelled with 's' in Portuguese) is well known for its rich heritage - a blend of indigenous, African and European cultures - from which the music has risen with fascinating rhythms, soaring melodies and colorful harmonies.

The musicians of Sambeleza are outstanding U. S. and Brazilian interpreters of the great songs of the bossa nova and samba traditions, as well as outstanding jazz artists in their own right.

Sambeleza derives its name from two words: samba, the national dance of Brasil, and beleza, Portuguese for 'beauty'. The group has performed widely in Connecticut at festivals - including the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Middletown Summer Sounds, Milford and Hamden Arts Councils - and at universities, nightclubs, restaurants, and libraries throughout the Southern Connecticut region.

The group frequently collaborates with highly regarded musical artists, notably Brazilian drummer Adriano dos Santos and renowned flutist/percussionist Paul Lieberman.  Most recently Sambeleza collaborated with the Haven String Quartet on a series of concerts of bossa nova songs with lush string accompaniment.

Vocalist and pianist Isabella Mendes, born in Sao Paulo, is a rising talent known for her sensitive interpretations of standard bossa novas as well as the pop-tinged music of younger Brazilian singers like Dani Gurgel and Maria Rita. Isabella’s crystal clear singing voice recalls the sound of Astrud Gilberto and enhances her performances both locally and at other venues, including SOB’s in New York. Also a composer, she has written a variety of songs in both English and Portuguese.

Guitarist Joe Carter's specialty is Brazilian Jazz, combining straight ahead and bebop styles of jazz with samba, bossa nova and Northeast styles of Brazilian music. Two CDs showcase his familiarity with Brazilian music: "Um Abraco No Rio" was recorded in Rio de Janeiro with Brazilian musicians including world-renowned harmonica virtuoso Mauricio Einhorn. Joe’s Samba Rio Trio often utilizes the talents of bassist Nilson Matta and legendary drummer Portinho. Joe is Director of the Music Department at Sacred Heart University.

Bassist Jeff Fuller, well-known CT jazz artist, toured worldwide and recorded with master saxophonist Lou Donaldson and Paquito D'Rivera, with each of whom he recorded three albums. He has also appeared with jazz artists of all styles and eras. In the field of Latin Jazz, Fuller toured with Paquito D'Rivera's Havana/New York Quintet, the Hilton Ruiz Quintet, and Orlando "Puntilla" Rios' Nueva Generación (Afro-Cuban folkloric). He composes and arranges for the acclaimed salsa group, Irazu, whose albums have featured top Cuban soloists Arturo Sandoval and Tata Guines. He was co-leader and arranger for the popular Samba Brasil, whose music blended jazz and a broad spectrum of Brazilian folk styles. Samba Brasil won the Hartford Advocate¹s "Best Latin" category seven times (1999-2001, 2003-2006). 

Izzy & the G's

Izzy and the G's prides themselves on their unique ability to cover the Bossa Nova and Jazz classics from an array of diverse artists. Covering everything from The Girl from Ipanema and My Romance to the Frank Sinatra standards. Izzy and the G's will make your day extra special with music that matches your refined taste. 

Isabella Mendes is a singer songwriter and pianist performing jazz, Brazilian jazz and original music around New Haven and Hartford County. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Isabella started studying music at CLAM (school founded by Zimbo Trio) at the early age of four years old. Four years later, she started writing music and taking private piano and composition lessons. She also participated in many piano competitions, concerts, Master Classes and while a teenager earned a scholarship at Magda Tagliaferro, one of the top music schools in Sao Paulo. When she was 15 years she began jazz and vocal studies after moving with her family to the United States. In high school she won the Louis Armstrong Award and was nominated a Hamden Arts Notable for her excellence in Music and Jazz studies. Since then, she performs locally with several groups, including Sambeleza and Izzy & the G's, and continues to perform with many well known artists such as Jeff Fuller, Paul Lieberman, Nanny Assis, Joe Carter, Adriano Santos and more. Venues and events of performance include: The New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas, Middletown Summer Sounds Concerts, Outer Space, WpkN 89.5FM Radio. 

George Lesiw is a Berklee College of Music graduate with a unique voice on the guitar. He has been a staple on the New Haven music scene for over twenty years. In 2007, George Lesiw's band was named Jazz Search Winners of the 20th Annual Long Beach (CA) Jazz Festival. Lesiw and his band also played the Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival, Spaghettini Grill & Jazz Club, The Baked Potato, and the Jackie Slater & Friends Celebrity Golf Tournament. Stints on the East Coast have been just as impressive including the venerable Café Nine, the Owl Shop, Toads Place, The Knitting Factory, Greenwich Village Bistro, The C Note, Acme Underground, Puppet House Theater, and Underground Parade at Lorenzo Studios, Gathering of the Elements, the Collinsville Arts and Music Festival. 

George Mastrogiannis a native of Connecticut began playing the drums at 12 years old. George started playing in garage bands with his cousin George Lesiw throughout high school. After high school George made his way to Los Angeles to study at Musicians Institute where he studied with many of the best musicians in Southern California. He returned from LA with a plan to practice and take any gig that came his way. Playing in numerous bands and clubs in New Haven for two years he decided that he wanted to study jazz and in 1998 entered the Hartt School of Music where he immediately began playing with his professors on a weekly basis. George graduated from Hartt in 2002.

Izzy and the G's is available for weddings, private parties, restaurants and events. 

Bossa Nova Jazz

Bossa Nova Jazz has its first debut at the former Hamden Restaurant Colonial Tymes, and later at The Beach House Restaurant in Milford. Comprised by Brazilian Native, Isabella Mendes on piano and vocals, Colombian native Hernan Yepes on guitar and Puerto Rico native Asher Delerme on drums and percussion, Bossa Nova Jazz was one of the greatest Brazilian Jazz sounds in New Haven in the mid 2000s. With authentic Bossa Nova sounds from Brazil, this group made the room light up. Asher Delerme is also in the famous CT Salsa Band, Mikata