The Bossa Nova Years

(Text from Marc Berthon)

You are listening to The Girl from Ipanema from Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes.


Beautiful. A dream body. This afternoon, the girl in bikini who is walking on Ipanema beach, sensual and distant, is just simply sublime. Divine spectacle in front of which the three friends of the beach, Tom, Vinícius and João, the tenderised eye and the fuzzy spirit (sun, idleness and beer have had enough time, since twelve, to carry out their work quietly), remain as nailed to their cane armchairs, their senses as dynamited. Strong emotion, so strong song. Antônio Carlos Jobim (Tom) signs the partition, Vinícius de Moraes, poet and diplomat, signs the words:

Beautiful...

VinÝcius de Moraes Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes
When she walks she's like a samba that
Swings so cool and sways so gentle,
That when she passes, each one she passes goes

Recorded in 1962, sung by the guitarist João Gilberto, from Bahia, The Girl from Ipanema, with twenty-five million copies sold to date, is the second song the most played in the world, after " Yesterdays "by the Beattles. It is too the perfect illustration of the " Bossa Nova " spirit, the most sophisticated musical movement born on the Brazil ground.

JoŃo Gilberto 

Tom, ╔lis Regina, Baden Powell and VinÝcius de Moraes

Ipanema beach. Far off the Corcovado 

The Bossa nova, " new beat " in English, is first of all both a poetic, lyric, simple and complex atmosphere. It is a soft rhythm, with fluid and pure melodies. It is still a sound, related to a very particular place, the town of Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana, Ipanema, Corcovado... A sound which makes you floating. It is associated with a whole life " tropicalist " philosophy, with a speech which exalts love, women, Muses, ocean, pleasure. Bewitching, intimists and exquisitely carnal songs which take you along to the sea and invite you to idleness.

A history, Bossa Nova, which begins at the end of the 50's, in Rio within one of the few euphoric moments that Brazil could have know: democratic freedom, economic development, arts and football prosper in the biggest South American country. Carrying environment creates easy life.

Rio de Janeiro 

Ary Barroso, Tom jobim, Ronaldo B˘scoli 

Tom and ╔lis Regina

The initiator of the movement is Antônio Carlos Jobim, prolific and talented composer, tall man with a courteous, ironic and nonchalant look. With a classical formation, Jobim, who asserts as much the " serious " influence of a Villa-Lobos as the " popular " of Ary Barroso (composer of the famous Brazil, or Aquarela do Brasil, sung by Élis Regina among others), defines Bossa Nova as " the meeting of the Samba and the modern Jazz ". A flexible and regular beat, straight extracted from the general polyrythmy of the Samba, a sober, delicate and natural dial tone, the whole combined with a great harmonic and melancholic richness, and there you have it ! 

Beginning of the hostilities in 1959. With two key events. First of all, the release of the manifesto disc by João Gilberto and Tom Jobim, Chega de Saudade Melody of Chega de Saudade, immediately transformed into commercial success. Then the consecration, in Cannes, of the movie Black Orpheus Melody of Felicidade by Marcel Camus, which won the gold Palm. The tape-sound is signed Jobim-de Moraes and... Luís Bonfá, happy guitarist and composer, among others, of the international standards Tristeza and Manhã de Carnaval Melody of Manhã de Carnaval.

Tom Jobim and JoŃo Gilberto

Tom Jobim and JoŃo Gilberto

A scene of Black Orpheus

Stan Getz

Astrud Gilberto 

Tom Jobim

In 1962, the Bossa wave breaks on the United States. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Paul Desmond, Gerry Mulligan, Quincy Jones, Paul Winter, and even Miles Davis or Sonny Rollins, everyone succumbs to the irresistible charms of the carioca melodies. And while Gilberto, Jobim, Bonfá or Baden Powell, the last of the band, are setting up for a moment in New York, the saxophonist Stan Getz enters heart and soul in the movement. So he devoted two whole years of his life, he enrolled the singer Astrud Gilberto, João's wife, and he recorded with the greatest Bossa novists the value of five now legendary albums. As many songs, as many potential hits : Desafinado Melody of Desafinado, Insensatez Melody of Vivo Sonhando, Samba de Uma Nota Só Melody of Samba de Uma Nota Só, Vivo Sonhando Melody of Vivo Sonhando and, of course, the inevitable Girl from Ipanema Mélodie de Garota de Ipanema (1)  Mélodie de Garota de Ipanema (2)

From the middle of the 60's, the main thing is settled. Bossa has became a universal, integrated genre and recovered by all the other currents of modern music, Jazz, Variety, Pop and Rock. If Gilberto and Jobim seldom leave the American continent, Baden Powell, continually travels all over the world. Idem for Vinícius de Moraes who, all over the 70's and till his death, in 1980, receives with Toquinho, guitarist and singer, the most effective help. In Brazil, the next generations will reveal different other great creators, other musical currents. But everyone, whatever they are, will assert high and strong the heritage of Bossa Nova, national heritage before being world-wide. Artists such as Jorge Ben, Élis Regina, Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso, Trio Esperança..., would certainly not be what they are today if they had not taken pleasure with humming, one day or another, the subtle and merry refrains of Desafinado Melody of Desafinado or Garota de Ipanema Mélodie de Garota de Ipanema (1)  Mélodie de Garota de Ipanema (2).

Toquinho, Ronaldo B˘scoli, VinÝcius

Toquinho, Tom, VinÝcius

╔lis Regina

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