Bossa Nova: the story behind Brazil's silent revolution (2023)

1964 was a significant year for popular music. Not only has it witnessed the meteoric rise of long-haired, guitar-led beat groups fronted by rhythm-setting bandslos beatlesmiThe Rolling Stones die– sparking a trend toward originality in songwriting – also marked the arrival on the world stage of a new generation of jazz-inspired music that blended sweeping, caressing melodies with subtle syncopated rhythms. The sound originated in Brazil and was called "Bossa Nova", a description that translated into English as "new trend".

Listen to the best bossa nova songsapple music miSpotify.

Girls of Ipanema

The song that set the tone for the bossa nova explosion in the United States and the world was called "The Girl from Ipanema," performed byastrud gilbertowith a thin but seductive female voice, and which peaked at number 5 on the US pop singles chart in the summer of 1964.

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The song propelled Astrud to international stardom, though she wasn't alone: ​​'Girl from Ipanema' was a collaboration between her then-husband, singer-guitarist João Gilberto, and jazz tenor saxophonist.Stan Getz, and appeared in itthe Getz/Gilberto Verve album from 1963. Astrud, an amateur singer, was called in at the last minute to sing alongside her husband, but her presence was absolutely captivating. The much shorter single version of the song removed almost all of João's vocals, instead emphasizing his young wife, whom she began recording in 1965 under her own name.

The Girl From Ipanema (feat. Astrud Gilberto) (Chica de Ipanema)

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After the phenomenal success of The Girl from Ipanema, bossa nova fever swept the United States. Drawn by the song's delicate melodies, lush harmonies, and stealthy syncopation, many musicians, especially jazz musicians, began recording authentic Brazilian material and reconfiguring standard songs with bossa nova-influenced rhythms.

The birth of bossa nova

The history of bossa nova really begins in 1956. One of its main architects wasAntonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim(1927-1994), classically trained pianist from Rio de Janeiro who also played the guitar, sang and composed songs. He had become famous in Brazil as the composer of a piece called 1956Lieder von Orfeu Da Conceição, written by the Rio de Janeiro poet and playwright Vinicius de Moraes, who would become one of Jobim's main collaborators. (He also began a career as a singer-songwriter in the 1960s.) De Moraes reworked the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice and transplanted the plot to a Rio favela during Carnival. His portrayal proved highly influential and inspired the award-winning 1959 orpheus, filmed by French director Marcel Camus with black Brazilian actors. Rather than reuse the music Jobim had written for Moraes' work, Camus commissioned new music from the composer, including the classical "Felicade"; The director also performed two songs by another up-and-coming Brazilian singer-songwriter, Luis Bonfá, including "Manhã de Carnaval," which, like "Felicade," became a mainstay of the growing bossa nova movement.

In the wake ofblack orpheusQuickly emerging as a global phenomenon that helped export the emerging sound of bossa nova, Jobim's fame quickly skyrocketed. Among the first singers to record his songs were Elizete Cardoso and Sylvia Telles (who recorded entire albums of his material in the late 1950s), along with another singer named Maysa, whose supposedly hedonistic lifestyle led her to become " the Janis Joplin of". called bossa nova." Most important of all, however, wasjoao gilberto. Between 1959 and 1961, Jobim worked on Gilberto's albums in Brazil and helped establish the soft-spoken singer-guitarist as a new star in his native country.

(Video) Joao Gilberto dies aged 88 (Brazilian father of Bossa Nova)

But Gilberto's fame soon spread outside of Brazil. In 1961, American musicians, including flutist Herbie Mann and guitarist Charlie Byrd, played alongside Brazilian musicians and experienced firsthand the burgeoning bossa nova movement. Back in Washington, DC, saxophonist Stan Getz saw Byrd's band live, heard them play some bossa nova songs he liked, and asked them to record an album together.

Bossa Nova comes to America

With the help of producer Creed Taylor, Getz and Byrd recorded at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C. and the results were published asJazz-Sambaon Verve Records in April 1962. Their success (it spent 70 weeks on the US Pop Albums chart and peaked at No. 1) was aided by their flyaway single, a happy version of Jobim's "Desafinado," which it reached number 100 on the No. US Hot 100 in November. 1962 and later won a Grammy.Jazz-SambaNot only did it help kick off North America's love affair with Brazilian music, it also gave Stan Getz's career a new lease of life. In fact, the saxophonist regularly recorded bossa nova tracks until his death in June 1991.


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Awareness of bossa nova music in the United States was increased by a concert at Carnegie Hall that was held around the same time.Jazz-Samba, on Wednesday, November 21, 1962. The auditorium was packed with nearly 3,000 visitors, including many jazz musicians curious to hear the exciting new music up close. They witnessed the most important ancestors of bossa nova - Jobim, Gilberto, Bonfá and singer-songwriters Roberto Menescal and Carlos Lyra - play alongside Getz, Byrd and pianist and soundtrack composer Lalo Schifrin.

The bossa nova explosion

The critical and commercial success of the show inspired a number of jazz musicians who became enthusiastic about the improvisational possibilities of bossa nova. dizzy gillespie,quincy jones,wes montgomery,Kanonenkugel Adderley,jimmy smith,miOscar Petersonare just some of the big names who embraced the seductive sound of Brazilian music in the 1960s. Even some of the most famous pop groups of the time were inspired by the modern sound emanating from the beachside cafes of River; Groups like the Beatles ("And I Love Her"),the sprains("No return") andos beachboys("Busy Doin' Nothin'") brought a bossa nova flavor to some of his songs, while a variety of big-name singers sang Brazilian material. two singing giants,Frank SinatramiElla FitzgeraldHe dedicated entire records to the Antonio Carlos Jobim songbook. (Jobim shared the reckoning with Sinatra in the 1967 feature film by the American singerFrancis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim).

The meaning of Antonio Carlos Jobim

Both Sinatra and Fitzgerald recognized that Jobim was a musical giant whose stature as a songwriter rivaled such American greats as George Gershwin and Cole Porter they admired. In fact, Jobim was responsible for writing many of the most important bossa nova songs; Without a doubt, his main talent was composing catchy and seductive melodies accompanied by rich jazz chords, but he rarely wrote his own lyrics. For the most part, Jobim drew on the romantic poetry of Vincinius de Moraes ("Garota de Ipanema", "Samba de Uma Nota", "Lamento No Morro" and "Agua de Beber"), but he also collaborated on times with Newton Mendonça ("Desafinado" and "Meditacio") and Aloysio de Oliveira ("Foto" and "Dindi"). Many of the English lyrics to Jobim's songs were written by three notable authors: Americans Norman Gimbel and Ray Gilbert, and Canadian jazz journalist-turned-lyricist Gene Lees.

Jobim also had a long and distinguished musical career, beginning in 1963 with his first solo album, Creed, produced by Taylor.The composer of Out of Tune,Games, released by Verve Records. His success as a songwriter and recording artist helped popularize Brazilian music and helped many of his compatriots find receptive international audiences. They included pianist Sérgio Mendes (who scored several American hits with his group Brasil '66 in the late 1960s), guitar virtuoso Baden Powell, known for his delicate arabesques, and three leading singer-songwriters and guitarists: Jorge Ben (the author of "Mas Que Nada," Sergio Mendes' popular signature song), Marcos Valle (of "So Nice (Summer Samba)" fame), and Gilberto Gil, who was a central figure in the Brazilian Tropicália movement from the late '90s and '60s, who fused politics with a post bossa nova sound influenced by pop and rock elements.

water to drink

(Video) "The Girl from Ipanema" Astrud Gilberto, João Gilberto and Stan Getz

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Recife organist Walter Wanderley (whose trio had a US hit single in 1966 with “Summer Samba”) and pianists João Donato and Eumir Deodato also became world famous; The latter moved to the United States, where he became one of the leading stars of Brazilian jazz-funk in the 1970s.

Another Brazilian artist who benefited from Jobim and Gilberto's discovery in the United States was singer Flora Purim, who began singing bossa nova-oriented songs; However, after moving to the United States, she sang with the jazz-rock group Return To Forever in the early '70s before embarking on a solo career that quickly crowned her the "First Lady of Fusion." .

Bossa Nova in the 21st century

In the 2000s, bossa nova received an exciting makeover courtesy of Bebel Gilberto, daughter of João Gilberto and Miúcha, a Brazilian singer who recorded two albums with Jobim in the 1970s. Bebel made her recording debut on the 1980s, but was not successful until then. 2000 with their debut albumA long time, an innovative synthesis of Brazilian bossa nova rhythms and sampled electronic grooves that brought his music to nightclubs.

Bebel Gilberto is not the only Brazilian artist keeping bossa nova alive in the 21st century; Jazz pianist and singer Eliane Elias, who was mentored by Jobim, has often explored the music's rich repertoire of timeless material, while the Bossacucanova trio bring a more contemporary edge to the music, as have singers Sabrina Malheiros. and Paula Morelenbaum, who Summoned the Spirit of Astrud Gilberto.

The enduring appeal of the bossa nova

Sérgio Mendes summed up the appeal of bossa nova music in 2019: “I find it very sensual, very romantic and you can also dance to it. Those three components make it really beautiful. And it has great melodies, melodies to remember."

In fact, it does. With its subdued intimacy, poetic lyrics, seductive melodies, and mesmerizing rhythms, bossa nova still enchants 60 years after its release. It has an indescribable quality that seems to embody a freshness that transcends time and transports the listener to another place.


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