What are some good bossa nova songs

Bossa Nova : The sound of Ipanema

Charlie Byrd is thrilled with what he's hearing. What's this? A mixture of jazz and samba, somehow fallen out of the rhythm. These soft sounds, the floating, almost whispered, poetic singing: in the summer of 1961, the jazz guitarist took with him all the records he could find to play to friends on his return to the USA. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent Byrd along with other musicians on a tour to Latin America to market jazz there. The result, however, is exactly the opposite: Charlie Byrd encounters strange music in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and brings this “new wave” to the USA: the “bossa nova”.

“I fell in love with her straight away,” Stan Getz will later say, years after Charlie Byrd played him his discovery from Rio. Years after the whole world fell in love with the way he played those Brazilian sounds on his tenor saxophone. On February 13, 1962, he and Byrd went to the studio to record some of the songs Byrd brought with him. They call their record "Jazz Samba", it will climb to number one in the US charts and become one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time.

The story of Bossa Nova begins earlier. In 1950, a 19-year-old, crazy about music, moved to Rio from the state of Bahia to make a living from playing his guitar. It's João Gilberto. His father wants him to be a doctor or a lawyer, but João only has music on his mind. He is the only one of the seven siblings not to graduate from school and moves to Rio de Janeiro as soon as he can.

When and how exactly he first played the new rhythms, the unusual harmony, there are some legends about it. Like that João Gilberto invented bossa nova in the toilet.

Initially, the newcomer in Rio didn't have much luck, he made his way through, occasionally sang for a vocal quintet, but was fired for being unreliable. He is considered eccentric and moody, but above all obsessed with inventing a new style. Without a permanent residence, he usually sleeps on the couch with friends and smokes tons of marijuana. After years of unsuccessful appearances in the Zona Sul, in the south of Rio, Gilberto fled temporarily to his sister Dadainha in Minas in 1955. There he plays guitar all day, even in the bathroom. He notes that the acoustics are best in this five-square-meter room. He locks himself up there for nights, playing the same chord over and over again, convinced that the new style can exist. In this bathroom in Minas everything finally fits together: the rhythm and its gently breathy singing, which works almost entirely without vibrato.

When Gilberto, away from drugs and with a new self-confidence, returned to Rio two years later, the golden years of Brazil began. The spirit of optimism is clearly noticeable at the end of the 1950s. The new capital Brasilia is being built, the socialist president Juscelino Kubitschek is modernizing the country, and the national soccer team is world champion twice in a row. New trends are also developing in film, painting, theater and literature. And João Gilberto provides the soundtrack for it. Not alone, however.

In a bar in the Zona Sul, not far from Ipanema Beach, which was later sung about, Gilberto runs into the man who will write his greatest hits: Antonio Carlos Jobim, known as Tom Jobim. Growing up here in Ipanema, the son of a diplomat and grandson of a senator, Jobim shaped mainly French classical composers and jazz. When he meets Gilberto, Jobim is quite successful as a composer of samba rhythms, but he is looking for new ideas. A perfect combination, because Gilberto is a gifted singer, but without great talent for composition. The presumably first bossa nova song, penned by Gilberto, is now largely forgotten. The story of its creation, however, is all the more sonorous: one afternoon, João Gilberto watches the laundresses at work on the banks of the Rio São Francisco. They balance the bundles of clothes on their heads and rock their hips to the weighted rhythm of their steps. Bim-bom, Bim-bim-bom, Gilberto imitates her movements while singing softly and plucks dreamily on his guitar. Bim-bom, bim-bim-bom / Bim-bom, bim-bim-bom, it says later in the song "Bim Bom". 1:16 minutes, immortalized in 1959 on Gilberto's debut album “Chega de saudade”. It is considered the first pure bossa nova record, it contains mostly pieces by his partner Tom Jobim - including one of his largest, which Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd will record three years later in the USA: "Desafinado".

In the text of this song, the term "Bossa Nova" appears for the first time in its current meaning. Before that, it had always had a negative connotation, as an abuse of everything modern. With the release of “Desafinado” bossa nova becomes an attitude towards life.

The album almost never got released. Álvaros Ramos, managing director of the largest chain of vinyl stores that controlled the Brazilian music market at the time, angrily smashed the vinyl on the edge of the table and yelled: “So that's the shit we're getting from Rio? Why do they take someone with a cold? ”At least that's how Ruy Castro describes it in his extensive standard work“ Bossa Nova - The Sound of Ipanema ”. Only a personal meeting with Gilberto, the attractive, young singer with dog eyes, can convince Ramos. He takes the record into his chain's sales program.

The youth identify with the new sounds. She is tired of the voluminous, sentimental, almost operatic chants of the Samba, interspersed with antiquated language, far removed from the expressions of her generation. Bossa Nova is like a revolution, similar to the spread of rock ’n’ roll in the USA. Here, as there, the youth defined their existence from now on through the new music - with the difference that bossa nova is more likely to be created in the apartments of the white, intellectual upper class and not in basements or garages.

Musically, the bossa nova is far more complex than rock ’n’ roll, which is also due to its proximity to jazz. The harmony is extremely complicated by pop standards. The soft, flowing character of the music is promoted by chromatic sequences. The many unresolved dissonances and the constant change between major and minor produce the typical Bossa melancholy. The rhythm avoids heavy accents, which gives the listener the feeling that the chords are coming too early or too late. Since the melodies also contain unusual accents, the bossa nova is often denounced by critics as "music for out-of-tune singers". “It sounds weird on purpose,” replies Tom Jobim. “It is a criticism that only experts make. The guy next door doesn't hit the mark, but he has a crush on a girl and he can tell her because love is more important than the right tone. Some people always hit the right note, but they don't love anyone. "

Jobim's defense already suggests that the bossa nova texts do not, as is often assumed, only sing about the summery lightness of beach life. The word “Saudade” alone, actually untranslatable, describes a form of Weltschmerz, a longing for something loved that has been lost.

The Americans Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd tried to put all of this into their recording in February 1962. Similar to Gilberto, Getz, 35, was already going through severe crises at this point. The son of Jewish immigrants ran away from home at the age of 16 to indulge himself completely in music and playing the saxophone, he was thrown out of bands and fell victim to drugs. He got rid of heroin later, and alcohol addiction would accompany him until his death in 1991. In the early 1950s, Getz even had to go to jail for trying to steal narcotics in a pharmacy. He threatened the saleswoman and said he was carrying a gun. When the woman doesn't believe him, he flees. Later Getz calls the pharmacy to apologize. The call is traced, the guitarist arrested.

Although he managed to gain a foothold in the music industry after his release and to play with some well-known artists, commercial success was initially lacking. It was only the Brazilian rhythms, imported by Charlie Byrd from Rio into his homeland, that gave his career a completely new turn.

On February 13th, Byrd and Getz meet at All-Souls Church in Washington, D.C. to record the eight pieces for their joint album. The recordings only take four hours, after which Getz flies back to New York immediately. “Jazz Samba” will stay in the pop charts for 70 weeks. The title song "Desafinado" alone sold a million times, and in the following year Getz received a Grammy in the "Best Jazz Performance" category. The gentle sounds of his tenor saxophone are now known nationwide, as is the bossa nova.

The Brazilian musicians who founded the genre should now also benefit from the North American wave. The US State Department and a record company are organizing a bossa nova festival in New York's Carnegie Hall to finally establish “The New Brazilian Music” with the audience. The Brazilian Bossa elite flies to New York on November 21, 1962. Among them are Sergio Mendes (“Mas Que Nada”) and Luiz Bonfá. And of course João Gilberto and Tom Jobim, who are supposed to play the final on this rainy evening. Because of you, the American jazz greats of the time come: Tony Bennett, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Erroll Garner and Herbie Mann are sitting among 3000 other music lovers, more than 1000 remained disappointed in front of the sold out Carnegie Hall. “A place where the course for world careers is set,” Sergio Mendes says later. “There is no such place in Rio. For me the USA was paradise. "

Tom Jobim, one of the oldest at 35, is leaving Brazil for the first time. He is mostly concerned about the mass of musicians. Many have hardly any experience in front of a large audience, Jobim fears the concert could end in disaster. João Gilberto is more concerned about the crease in his trousers. He annoys his colleagues behind the stage. If the crease doesn't fit perfectly, everyone will only pay attention to their pants, not to their guitar playing, he fears. There is an iron and Gilberto waits in his underpants in the cloakroom until the theater dressmaker has straightened his crease.

The concert turns out to be a triumph. Several radio stations in America and Europe broadcast it, the jazz greats applaud in the audience. Many guest musicians receive invitations to perform or record in the United States. Gilberto signs a record deal, Jobim is hired as arranger. Both will stay in the US permanently. Two weeks after the performance, there will be another concert in Washington, D.C., followed by a reception by Jacqueline Kennedy in the White House.

Much more important, however, is an encounter that occurred during rehearsals for the New York concert: Stan Getz meets João Gilberto and Tom Jobin for the first time, the two men whose innovative sounds inspired him a year earlier. Gilberto is not very enthusiastic about how Getz interpreted her song "Samba de Uma Nota Só". He plays for him how it should actually sound.

Then they decide to record an album together. Jobim already has the right song ready: "Garota de Ipanema", better known as "The Girl from Ipanema". This song also becomes number one on the charts, earning a Grammy for "Single of the Year". Today “The Girl from Ipanema” is the most played pop song after “Yesterday”.

Charlie Byrd has nothing to do with any of this anymore. He only received a standard fee for working on the album “Jazz Samba”. In 1964 he takes legal action against it. After three years of litigation, he receives a $ 50,000 share in revenue. They will no longer perform together.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page