i feel like i should start listening to bossa nova

i was listening through all the Nintendo Sound Selection Albums while working today and i decided that it would probably be a good idea for me to finally gain at least a rudimentary appreciation for bossa nova and its history (and i guess samba as a whole?). it sure seems like most video game music (or at least nintendo music) has bossa nova all over its genetic make up. and it‘s clear that a huge amount of the non-videogame music i like is bossa nova inspired as well. so i feel like a loser because i don’t really know much about it. right now bossa nova is just a style i hear in soundtracks or at cafes and think “oh, it's bossa nova” — i don't actually know any of the pioneers of the genre or any classic albums. this is probably the biggest hole in my musical education!

there's got to be at least one bossa nova aficionado on here, so tell me what you think i should listen to. basically all i do all day is listen to music, so go wild with recommendations.

the only Big Name In Bossa I know is Stan Getz, who has made music you've almost definitely heard before, including Girl from Ipanema. start with “The Very Best of Stan Getz” which should be pretty easy to find!

Probably the most important figure in bossa is João Gilberto and his influence can‘t be understated. His wife Astrud and daughter Bebel are both notable bossa singers as well. Gilberto’s big innovation back in the 1950s was understanding that the development of amplifiers and PA systems meant that quiet sounds like acoustic guitar finger picking could be captured. Most performed and recorded jazz up to that point was brass/wind/percussion combos playing for a room or perfomance hall (in terms of dynamics), but Gilberto wanted to play softer, more intimate music. That is essentially the genesis of bossa nova.


The other big bossa boss is Antonio Carlos Jobim, who wrote "Girl From Ipanema" (sung by Astrud Gilberto), which is the most well known bossa song. Both Jobim and Gilberto were popularized by Stan Getz, as @esper mentions. Their 1964 collaboration "Getz/Gilberto" featured Jobim on piano and was a huge hit worldwide (few jazz records are [released in this many countries](https://www.discogs.com/Stan-Getz-Joao-Gilberto-Featuring-Antonio-Carlos-Jobim-Getz-Gilberto/master/85178?sort=year&sort_order=asc)), and that's where the bossa influence in Japan originates from.


By then the style had become part of popular culture and is associated with 60s mod fashion, bright colors, beach movies, etc. You get stuff like Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66, who recorded a variety of bossa and samba covers of pop standards. It's not "serious jazz" but widely popular and influential in their own right. This is one of my favorite records to play on a Sunday morning:


Walter Wanderly's “Rainforest” is my favorite


one interesting thing about bossa nova is that it started off as a radical, political, artful new music (such was the artists‘ intent), a sort of sound of revolution. but its delicate signature left it wide open to commercialization, and very quickly it became the stuff of hotel lobbies and cocktail bars. it was one of the all-time fastest and most total appropriations of a subcultural music. i’ve heard some bossa nova aficionados say they don‘t rate basically any of the stuff that came out after 1959/1960ish, which is nuts, because that’s like barely two years into the genre really existing in recognizable form.

something else to keep in mind is that it's a basic musical idea that's been used as far and wide and long as other broad genre categories, like rock or reggae. it's everywhere; ryuichi sakamoto had a couple bossa nova albums in the '90s; and for decades now it's been commonplace for k-pop artists to fit a bossa nova song onto this or that album. i think it's honestly quite nice as a sonic base but it's definitely been used and abused to death over the years.

if you want to get into the hipper, vibier stuff, another good brazilian music to check out from that era is tropcalia. it fused bossa nova influences with progressively more rocking and psychedelic sounds, and kept the revolutionary political spirit that quickly left bossa nova. the usual starting point for that stuff is caetano veloso's early records

these three bad boys here are my favorites from Tom Jobim, the actual composer of Girl from Ipanema (not stan getz @espercontrol YOU'RE HURTING MY BRAZILIAN FEELINGS MAN haha)*

i think these can be classified as New Bossa, where he took the genre in a bit more experimental paths.



Couldn't find the full album for this one. It's called Urubu


Other than that yeah, João GIlberto is the absolute OG. A genius and a total madman. It's worth checking out his life history as well as his music. I really dig his Live in Tokyo album (apparently people were clapping for like 40 minutes after he finished!).


Please look for these in better quality tho lol. They're probably on spotify.

@fugazi57#23843 i come from a limited background, so I genuinely appreciate you curing my ignorance!! I'm checkin out all these now. :brazil:

@espercontrol#23845 i'm joking of course! hope you enjoy them :smiley:

So this is not a classic or a best of by any means but I want to share it anyway. “Sound of Noise” is one of my favorite movies. It's a musical written for percussionists. The final scene has the guerilla musicians, exiled from their home country and working as bar musicians, reluctantly hitting the “bossanova” demo button on their keyboard while they complain about how this is so beneath them (and then perform a song written for the film). What follows is the only song with lyrics (and some of the only english) in the film:



I like it. Highly recommend checking out the movie I promise I havnt spoiled much.

Once a long time ago I downloaded a like 15GB collection of lounge music. It was organized into albums based on subgenres. It's actually amazing how much weird variety there is in lounge type music when you start looking into it, even though a lot of it sounds similar at first glance. There was a bassanova album in the collection but I lost that hoard a long while ago.

Now is my time to talk about stuff here. João Gilberto and Tom Jobim where the originators of bossa nova, with João being the Bahia state (from which Caetano Veloso and his sister Maria Bethania, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Zé and other musicians that shaped the tropicalia sound and movement also came from) born singer and guitarist who created the distinctive guitar rhythm and singing style that blended the stylings of jazz music with regional brazilian music mainly from the black music rooted tradition of samba. Tom was a Rio de Janeiro architecture student dropout turned night club pianist who composed most of João and bossa nova standards repertory with a variety of songwriters partners, from which the most important was Vinicius de Moraes, another Rio de Janeiro born and at the time already very famous poet and diplomat almost two decades older to both Tom and João. Moares and Jobim meet first and composed songs for de Moares play Orfeu da Conceição, later turned into the 1959 movie Orfeu Negro by french director Marcel Camus. The pair would later compose, for example, “Garota de Ipanema / Girl from Ipanema”, the most well known and played brazilian song worldwide. But here I present what is mostly considered the first bossa nova record, “Canção do Amor Demais” from the singer Elizeth Cardoso which was entirely composed by Tom/Vinicius and featured for the first time the bossa nova guitar playing that João had been so obsessively developing over the years in the tracks “Chega de Saudade” and “Outra Vez”, the first one featuring also his and Tom backing vocals.


After that João kickstarted the bossa nova revolution with three Tom Jobim produced consecutive records: Chega de Saudade (1959), O Amor, o Sorriso e a Flor (1960), João Gilberto (1961) and had it's worldwide peak with the bossa nova luminaries Carnaggie Hall concerts in 1962 and the subsequent Getz/Gilberto grammy winner record partnership that you all already familiar.

I will continue this post later with another records, this was mostly to present the "Rosetta Stone" of the bossa nova music.

João Gilberto and Tom Jobim can be the fathers but there‘s other musicians who had a hand in paving the way for what would be known as the bossa nova sound. One of the declared influences for both João and Tom is the pianist Johnny Alf, whose singing and playing was already remarkable close to what the pair would popularize later. Alf had been playing and recording 78 rpm since the 50’s despite recording his first solo LP in the 60‘s


At the end here he briefly discuss the bossa nova musicians that came after him João, Tom, Carlos Lyra and Baden Powell, all of which he meet in the 50’s


One of the first singers who would score hits with Jobim songs was Sylvia Telles, who even had a brief romance with João Gilberto cut short by the lady's parents because João was at the time a jobless unknown musician who lived in Rio de Janeiro couch hopping on friend's houses. Carlos Lyra remarks in his biography that the name bossa nova was popularized at one concert that he shared with Sylvia which the promoter of the venue advertised with outdoors that read "Hoje: Sylvia Telles e um grupo bossa nova" (Today: Sylvia and her bossa nova band). Her records had some of the first songs Tom made with lyrics from Vinicius de Moraes, Aloysio de Oliveira and Newton Mendonça, the last one a childhood friend with whom Jobim wrote some of his earliest classics like "Desafinado (Off-Key)" and "Samba De Uma Nota Só (One Note Samba)" and which tragically died of heart attack in 1960.
This video has Rosinha de Valença on guitar and Dom Salvador at the piano and two songs, the first Sylvia sings it's "Samba Torto" and the other is the "One Note Samba" from the title.

Another Tom Jobim's songwriting partner was Dolores Duran, who also had the career cut short by a heart attack in 1959 and whose solo records were very influential for future generations of musicians
A rare video of her singing on a movie
Here one of her songs with Jobim

One thing about Aloysio de Oliveira is that before being one of Jobim's lyricists he was the musical producer and Carmen Miranda's band leader until her death in 1955. He also sang Ary Barroso's "Aquarela do Brasil" in Saludos Amigos and Dorival Caymmi's "Você já foi à Bahia?" and "Os Quindins de Iaiá" with Carmen's sister Aurora Miranda on the live action segments of The Three Caballeros, two 1940's Walt Disney animations in which Donald Duck hang out with the brazilian character Zé Carioca. Ary Barroso and Dorival Caymmi are some of the most important songwriters from Brazil history whose songs João Gilberto and Tom Jobim would also record and perform regularly:

João covering Ary Barroso songs and one of the Caymmi songs featured on the Disney movies linked above

Other instances of João recording Barroso and Caymmi

Tom Jobim had a friendship and often recorded with Dorival Caymmi and his family for decades until his death

This is only a sample of Brazil music heritage that would give birth to bossa nova, there's a whole lot of other genres and musicians that would take hours to listen and discuss all of them, bossa nova itself being only one the musical genres that was popular in Brazil in the 50's/60's.

@fiodanavalha#24018 hey, just want to say i super appreciate all you‘ve written here! over the past few days i’ve been listening through the stuff you linked.

@saddleblasters#24208 thanks! I want to write a follow up, right now I‘m re-reading a book on bossa nova history I have, also there’s records that‘s been years since the last time I listened like all the Tom Jobim ones, that while not bad never really were among my favorites. I’m glad there's people wanting to know more about the music from my country, my home.

I was gonna continue with a chronological account of events and records but while listening to records and reading I stumbled into findings that show that even when we think we have some good insight on something there's always some details that we overlooked or even never knew at all, and this one is related to the catalyst of the original post: the reception of bossa nova in Japan.

All started when I decided to properly listen to the solo Astrud Gilberto records for the first time. Here is something that may shock the american readers, as Astrud not only was once the wife of the father of bossa nova but also the singer of the Getz/Gilberto version of Garota de Ipanema, the first ever record of the song that was released and that catapulted the bossa nova into global stardom, but as a Brazilian I rarely ever listened to Astrud or knew someone who listened or talked about her. In the social circles I participated during my life every time the 60's bossa nova leaning music was brought up everyone knew and talked about João, Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, Baden Powell, Nara Leão, Elis Regina, Chico Buarque, Edu Lobo, Caetano Veloso and so on but Astrud was rarely talked about, I myself never been much interested in her because she made her records on the US and I think there's this collective assumption, I don't know when I it was formed in my mind but I know that was also a opinion brought to me by other people, that it was in the US where they watered down our music, were the "easy listening elevator music" concept was born and that we rightly abhorred, that the "real" brazilian records were made here and the americans never get it right (I still think this has some truth to it, even knowing it's a biased perception).

So when I first wanted to talk about her I was interested in hearing the brazilian composer's songs that she recorded at her career, as they some times made english lyrics for songs that I first heard in portuguese and always amuses me figuring out how close the american guy got to the original meaning or how long he missed the mark to make something that would still be able to fit the original melody. That's when I heard this:



Japanese "Mas Que Nada"

Jorge Ben original

Japanese "Manhã de Carnaval"

Luiz Bonfá and Elizeth Cardoso original

And also Astrud singing "Manhã de Carnaval" in portuguese

Astrud recorded an entire album singing in japanese, sometimes alternating with portuguese in the same song, released in 1970. The only information I could find about it was some user on rateryourmusic claiming some sources said Sadao Watanabe and band accompanied her. As he is the bossa nova guy in Japan this may be right.

The year 1970 it's already late in the bossa nova mania, though. The first brazilian musician to sing in Japan was Maysa in 1960, invited by a brazilian airline company wanting to promote it's just inaugurated Rio de Janeiro-Tokyo flights.

In the interview the guy speaking with her twice remarks of the japanese audience interest on the Black Orpheus movie screening at the time, asking if the carnaval and samba depicted in it was accurate to real life, and while it had a Tom Jobim and Luis Bonfa composed soundtrack and even Elizeth Cardoso and João Gilberto performances it did not featured a song or perfomance by Maysa himself. This made her, visibly pissed off, respond: "Since who's gonna sing today is me, I need to clarify some things: the samba and carnaval really is like that, but the type of samba that I sing has nothing in common with the carnaval samba." She sang samba-canção, after all. The japanese speakers in the forum could tell how much of her response the guy translated to the host of the show.

But Maysa did not toured there to sing bossa nova. I came back to my book to find some info on Astrud Gilberto passage in Japan, but instead it had another info: that Nara Leão and Sergio Mendes made a Japan tour together in 1964. Sergio Mendes probably had the greater commercial success of all the brazilian musicians during the 60's. As an example his cover of The Beatles "Fool On The Hill" sold 4 million copies, a feat that the proper Magical Mystery Tour record would only achieve in the 80's. McCartney himself would write a letter thanking him for the record.

And in the period of 1966-1968 Sergio Mendes extensive touring including a passage for 27 japanese cities, twice a year. As with Astrud Gilberto I also never had interest on listening much of Sergio Mendes american output, with I think is even more stupid now cause his Brasil 60's band were the same musicians that played on lots of the brazilian records pre-1965 that I listened, like the drummer Dom Um Romão.

At the time of the Japan tour with Sergio Mendes, Nara Leão had recorded her first solo album and was showing signs of wanting to distance herself from the bossa nova.. It had no Tom Jobim songs, although it had Vinicius de Moraes songs with new partner Baden Powell, and had songs from the "samba de morro" black composers Zé Keti


and Nelson Cavaquinho

This tour was being promoted by Rhodia fashion company in a publicity campaign called Brazilian Stylings, so it relayed heavily on the bossa nova standards. When Nara wanted to add those sambas to the repertoire she was faced with protests by Sergio, with did not see fit those songs within a fashion show campaign. When she successfully sang them it was accompanied only by the other musicians as the piano stayed silently. Her decisions also had relation with the political climate on the country, as the businessman-military right wing dictatorship had already began in the country with the support of the usual suspects like the USA government Latin America military coups division (who is still active to this day as we saw in Bolivia 2019, some things doesn't change much here if you guys elect Obama or a psycho fascist like your last president). Nara felt that the majority of bossa nova compositions to that point were too detached from the social struggles that people were facing here. As I believe this was an one time excursion for Nara in the 60's she must have became more known to the japanese public of the time as a singer of Garota de Ipanema than by her actual albums. Garota de Ipanema also was the name of her 1985 album recorded in Japan by request of the record label, which only was released in Brasil on the next year.

Here's her singing two Tom Jobim songs to promote that album in japanese television. It's interesting that in the second song, Samba do Avião, the arrangement it's more akin to a slower paced "choro" or "chorinho", one of the classic pre-bossa nova samba genres with an ensemble playing some of it's characteristic instruments.


By the 70's more brazilian musicians were doing tours in Japan, as attested by live albums of the time recorded by the likes of Sergio Mendes, Elizeth Cardoso, Elis Regina, and by the 80's almost all of the great brazilian stars were touring there. I believe that if some of the bossa nova spread could be traced to singular brazilian musicians besides japanese ones recording in the genre, it would have a lot to do with Sergio Mendes popularity there. João Gilberto could have the popular records but he also did not made any shows outside the US until the end of the 60's (or record a new album after Getz/Gilberto for that matter) as he was living there with his second wife, Miucha, with whom he would have his second child, Bebel Gilberto. She was also Chico Buarque's older sister and both mother and daughter would became professional singers.

Things that appeared on my youtube recommendations:


Eiko Shuri doing her best portuguese rendition of Mas Que Nada, I'm certain she learned it listening to this 1966 single in the japanese market:


NSIB (not sure if bossa), but I just came across this song as part of this lovely mix and I’m smitten:


@“kory”#p62340 lol hell yeah!! Cibo Matto‘s was the first version I’d ever heard of Águas de Março. I love that song.

@“connrrr”#p62357 same lol. Cibo Matto was also my first encounter with that song

@“connrrr”#p62357 this cover is great! I was only familiar with the other aguas on that EP (the sugar kind :smile:)

I know Sergio Mendes came up earlier in the thread, but a buddy of mine shared this album with me today and I felt like I needed to post this smooooth cover of With a Little Help From My Friends: