Bossa Nova Music


Brazil Araras in a row“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” - Leonardo Da Vinci

Sometimes, you have to get quiet to hear…

Such is the story of Bossa Nova and it’s originator, Bahian Joao Gilberto.  You’d never guess he started out with the goal to be the best Frank Sinatra-style singer in Brazil.

Destiny had a different calling for Gilberto, and he landed on many a gracious friend’s couch before hearing it.

freeimage 3168366 highIt was finally when he went home to Bahia — sleeping on his sister’s couch — that he got quiet enough to hear samba’s rhythmic complexity pared down to it’s barest essentials, birthing a new kind of beat full of unusual keys, harmonies, and syncopations, with just a whisper of a voice floating over the top.

Bossa Nova or the “new way” floated with Gilberto back to Rio, where he shared it with composer Antonio Carlos “Tom” Jobim and poet Vinicius de Moraes who both delightfully jumped on board, contributing to Gilberto’s landmark 78-RPM single with “Chega de Saudade” (by Jobim and Moraes) and “Bim-Bom” (by Gilberto) in July 1958.

The single garnered mixed reviews, with negative reactions complaining it was “off key,” and being offended by the unconventional harmonies, the apparently strong influence of American jazz, and Gilberto’s unusual vocals.

But much of the Brazilian public were intrigued by the two songs, like a new flavor they were rolling around on their tongue, deciding if they liked this new taste.

Brazil Araras in a row

The trio just laughed at the naysayers, releasing Bossa Nova’s defiant anthem “Desafinado” (“Off Key,” which composer Tom Jobim notes “…is not off-key at all!  It’s “crooked” on purpose”).

Jobim would agree that the “off-key” accusation is lodged by those who choose to put on airs, boxing themselves into a major scale, against those who choose to hold true to the passionate, earthy scales found in ancient music.  Bossa Nova’s key choices then, are really not new, but instead left the newer major scale to return to the very old, mining all the passion only they can express.  (Our composer/producer Sherese Timeless has a “ground-breaking” book in the works about this, but we don’t want to give her premise away!  Stay tuned!)

Desafinado” was released in November, 1958, four months after “Chega de Saudade,” and, as they say, the rest is history.

Brazil courtyard table 300x199

Bossa Nova’s infectious rhythm was soon taking North America by storm with the 1962 release of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd’s Jazz Samba (which included tunes by Jobim, Luis Bonfá, and Baden Powell).  Other bossa-themed albums were released that year by Herbie Mann, Paul Winter, and Coleman Hawkins, among others.

It wasn’t long before Bossa’s entrancing lyrical beauty and cool Brazilian swing spread around the globe, with one of it’s most famous hits, “Garota de Ipanema,” (The Girl from Ipanema) — inspired by a young woman who swayed past Jobim and Moraes’ favorite patio table in the afternoons on her way to the store — enduring as one of the best-known songs in the world.

Chris McGowan and Ricardo Pessanha.

The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil.Rev. ed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2009

Ruy Castro.

Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the World.Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2000

CliqueMusic Editora Ltda.

AllBrazilianMusic. 2000 – 2011. March 3 2011 -

Eliyora Entertainment™LLC.  © Paradunai™LLC.  All international rights reserved.  All trademarks property of Paradunai™LLC.  All personas, concepts and original songs created and performed by Sherese Chrétien.