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What is BOSSA NOVA...? │ Qué es la BOSSA NOVA...?

What is Bossa Nova...? Or that it's Bossa Nova...? │What is the Bossa Nova...?

In July 2009, we inaugurated the old thematic Blog of Bossa Nova Clube (vintage) with a first "post" article titled: " Bossa Nova │ More than music ."

For that reason, we also wanted to start the series of thematic " posts " on this new website with the same title: " Bossa Nova │ More than music "...!

In this article we explained in summary "the meaning", "the how", "the where" and "the when" of Bossa Nova, that exciting music.

Bossa Nova was born in the city of Rio de Janeiro at the end of the 50's. After achieving great national success, he left the "Cidade Maravilhosa" with determination to conquer and seduce the musical Planet.

On its journey around the world, Bossa Nova later and definitively influenced other music, mainly Jazz.

Tom Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes & João Gilberto │ BossADNova...!
Tom Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes & João Gilberto │ BossADNova...!

The reason for writing this new "post" now is to complete the information from that first article written +12 years ago.

To do this, we attach and literary translate the video "Isso é Bossa Nova" by the musician, arranger and composer Flávio Mendes - O Arranjo.

We have tried to explain in this complete " post " based on the didactic video-classroom of Flávio Mendes, each and every one of the main arguments in relation to the philosophy of Bossa Nova.

Flávio masterfully analyzes the origin, the trajectory and all the details of Bossa Nova.

Your work is perfect and simply definitive...!

1 ► What is Bossa Nova? Or what about Bossa Nova? │What is the Bossa Nova..?

- Flávio Mendes begins by saying: It is very difficult to explain what Bossa Nova is...!

It is also difficult to summarize what the parameters are to determine it...

Is that Bossa Nova...? │ From here it is Bossa Nova...? │ with that element it is no longer Bossa Nova...?, etc.

Nothing different like trying to explain what Samba, Jazz, Rock or Blues is. In reality, they are all artistic musical expressions that emerged at a certain time and in a certain place, with their various characteristics and influences.

In the specific case of Bossa Nova , the gradual process of modernization of Brazilian music had already been going on since the 1930s.

There were several factors that would gradually emerge.

Like the appearance of a more sophisticated music by the composer Ary Barroso, a more colloquial lyrics like that of the composer and samba player Noel Rosa or the interpretation of songs in a more intimate space like those of the singer Mário Reis.

This musical evolution had been happening in Brazil naturally and gradually over several decades.

But something different happened at the end of the 1950s in Rio de Janeiro. Something worked like a detonator...!

It's always good to hear who was there, on the front lines.

Someone who actively participated in the entire process.

The same one who gave the rule and the compass to define what would be the bases of Bossa Nova.

According to Tom Jobim, if it were not for the rhythm of the guitar "batida do violão" and the way of singing of a practically unknown Bahian named João Gilberto , Bossa Nova as we know it would never have existed.

João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira (1931 ~ 2019)
João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira (1931 ~ 2019)

João Gilberto was the wishbone, the detonator of the musical revolution.

Many musicians remember to this day where and when they first heard João Gilberto . They remember the impact that that new sound, that new rhythm, had on them. Established musicians such as Gilberto Gil , Chico Buarque or Caetano Veloso , decided to play the "violão" guitar after the emergence of Bossa Nova, after listening to João .

But to know Bossa Nova in depth, it is important to know its musical origins, possible influences, who came before...

2 ► The precursors

The recording of the song "Pelo telefone" in 1917 is considered by historians to be the first Samba recording.

During the 1920s, Samba established itself as the main genre of Brazilian music.

But it was from the 1930s that Brazilian popular music became professional. And a modernization process began that would reach Bossa Nova thirty years later.

The arrival in Brazil of radio, sound cinema and electromagnetic sound recording were fundamental factors at that time.

The practice of electromagnetic recording no longer required the singer to sing as in lyrical singing, singing with a lot of sound volume.

And there was a singer who stood out at that time, Mário Reis. He sang in a more natural, colloquial way, almost like João Gilberto .

At that time a large number of artists emerged. So much so that that phase of time is known as the Golden Era of Brazilian music.

One of the first highlights of the Golden Era was Noel Rosa .

Noel lived very little, dying of tuberculosis at the age of 26.

But in that short time, Noel composed +250 songs, mostly Sambas.

Noel changed the history and philosophy of lyrics in Brazilian popular music, which can be divided into a before and after of the composer Noel de Medeiros Rosa .

Noel de Medeiros Rosa (1910 ~ 1937)
Noel de Medeiros Rosa (1910 ~ 1937)

Ary Barroso, Dorival Caymmi, Braguinha, Ataulfo Alves, Wilson Batista, Herivelto Martins, Lamartine Babo, Custódio Mesquita, were some of the composers who emerged at that time and who forever modernized Brazilian music.

The Golden Age lasted until approximately 1945, the year in which Getúlio Vargas's 15-year term as President of Brazil ends.

The President who succeeded Vargas was Eurico Gaspar Dutra, who with only 3 months in office banned gambling in Brazil.

There were officially 79 casinos at the time. And the oldest of them had up to 3 contracted orchestras. They were a big active market for musicians.

With the closure of these casinos, live music moved to other places, a novelty imported from France. The so-called "party rooms" or "boats" were born .

The "boats" were places in closed environments, without windows, where it was always night. It was the perfect place for the emergence of a new, more intimate style of Samba, with lower volume. The "Samba-Canção" was born ...!

All the precursor artists of La Bossa Nova, passed through the " boates": Dick Farney, Lúcio Alves, Dolores Durán, Johnny Alf the "eternal raptor of bem" , Sérgio Ricardo, João Donato, Agostinho dos Santos and Antônio Carlos Jobim .

Tom Jobim spent many years in that life of playing the piano at night in Rio. During all that time, day practically turned into night.

He was the one who gave the nickname to the "boats" of Rio as "cubo das trevas" or "cube of darkness." The life of a pianist in those "boats" was not the healthiest...

Antônio Carlos Jobim │ Sovereign Master (1927 ~ 1994)
Antônio Carlos Jobim │ Sovereign Master (1927 ~ 1994)

To overcome these personal circumstances, Tom Jobim got a job as a musical arranger at the Continental record company.

One of its functions was to place in the score, the Sambas that some "sambist" composers only had in their heads.

Sambas that they sang by heart when accompanied by the rhythm of a matchbox.

At that time, Tom began to compose.

His first hit was "Tereza na Praia" , in collaboration with the great Billy Blanco . "Tereza na Praia" was recorded as a duet by the two most modern singers of the time: Lúcio Alves and Dick Farney.

His prestige as an arranger and composer only grew and grew. About to be recommended to compose the music for the play "Orfeu da Conceição" or "Black Orfeo" by Vinícius de Moraes . One of the greatest Brazilian poets and who was also a diplomat.

Vinícius was serving as vice-consul in Paris, when he had the idea of creating "Orfeu da Conceição" . The plot was to transport the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to the reality of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro .

The poet Vinícius de Moraes (1913 ~ 1980)
The poet Vinícius de Moraes (1913 ~ 1980)

Back in Brazil, Vinícius' goal was to find a musician to compose the songs for the play. His brother-in-law at the time, Ronaldo Bôscoli, suggested the young Antônio Carlos Jobim.

It was at a bar table at Casa Villarino in the center of Rio de Janeiro that Tom first heard Vinícius talk about the play project.

Tom, who said that his job only paid him the rent for the apartment, asked Vinícius directly: "Is there a little money in this"...?

That question created discomfort and astonishment for the journalist Lúcio Rangel who was at the table, and he replied: "But Tom, you are in front of the great poet Vinícius de Moraes, and you now have to talk about money"...?

The play "Orfeu da Conceição" was premiered at the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro. The sets were designed by architect Oscar Niemayer.

This artistic participation launched the Jobim & Vinícius collaboration that would shortly revolutionize all Brazilian popular music.

3 ► The arrival of the rhythm "la batida"

The "Samba-Canção" or "Samba Song" was also known as "Samba de phase de dor de cotuvelo" literally translated as "Samba of the elbow pain phase" referring to a certain manner or body posture of the afflicted person. , when you have problems and/or love disappointments.

The "Samba-Canção" had Samba at its roots, but was also influenced by North American ballads and the bolero.

Carlos Lyra who composed many "Sambas-Canções" calls it the "Brazilian Bolero".

As was the time of the "boats" , the style combined perfectly with the philosophy of those night houses . The themes of the lyrics dealt with issues linked to night life. Always in reference to lost loves, to disappointments literally drowned in alcohol. It was modern music that even young people liked, but the lyrics spoke of another reality, they did not speak the same language as those young people. Especially those in the southern area of Rio de Janeiro.

The generation of young people of the 1950s was the first to use the beach as a meeting point and to practice sports. It was a life outdoors.

The lyrics of "Samba-Canção" spoke of: "Revenge, revenge, I cry out to the Saints │ If I died tomorrow morning, no one would feel my lack"...

Definitely, they were not lyrics or aesthetics for that youth...!

Meeting at Nara Leão's apartment │ Nara & Roberto Menescal
Meeting at Nara Leão's apartment │ Roberto Menescal

A generation of young musicians like Carlos Lyra , Roberto Menescal and Oscar Castro Neves , began to find the type of sound they liked, listening to some "boat" pianists , such as Jhonny Alf , Tom Jobim or João Donato .

Musical meetings and/or "saraos" were also very active , such as those organized at the house of the pianist Baby Nunes, in the Gávea neighborhood. There the average age was older.

Another important meeting place due to its later musical significance was Nara Leão 's apartment on Avda. Atlântica, in front of Copacabana beach. The younger ones used to go there.

Many talented people coming together, exchanging knowledge and playing modern music, it was undoubtedly the prelude to something great. And there was really very little left for something big, something very big to happen.

Only the wishbone was missing. The detonator was missing. João Gilberto was missing .

João had already been to Rio de Janeiro in 1950, when he was 19 years old. At that time, he was invited to be part of a professional vocal group, called "Os Garotos da Lua" or "The Boys of the Moon." He didn't last long in the Group, he even tried to start a solo musical career, but it didn't work out.

In 1955, João Gilberto was without work and without money.

He spends 2 years outside of Rio, living in friends' houses in Portoalegre (RS) and in his sister's house in Diamantina (MG).

In all that time, João discovered and developed his own way of playing the violão and singing.

He originally had a great, Orlando Silva type voice. Now, on the contrary, he was developing a soft song, almost whispering.

House where João Gilberto lived in Diamantina (MG)
House where João Gilberto lived in Diamantina (MG)

When he returned to Rio de Janeiro, João looked for old friends. Among them Edinho from the Iraqi Trio.

He was also interested in finding a young man who was said to play modern chords, like the ones João was now playing. That young man was Roberto Menescal.

That specific meeting would change the lives of the two musicians and many people forever.

Menescal and his entire group of friends were fascinated by João .

It was as if the Messiah had appeared. It was as if everything they had been looking for for years had materialized in João 's singing and violão .

Tom Jobim and João Gilberto already knew each other from the time João had lived in Rio, but they were not exactly friends.

Tom Jobim didn't even remember that João played violão, he didn't associate him with the instrument. He was very impressed when he met him again.

That "batida" (rhythm) was very different from anything he had heard before. She synthesized. He praised the percussion instruments of Samba.

João Gilberto did not play with his fingers on the strings, as was done at the time. He played with his index, middle and ring fingers always together, vibrating at the same time. The thumb was on the bottom.

And the most surprising thing, that new rhythm transformed any song into a modern one. It worked miraculously even on the oldest Sambas.

LP "Canção do Amor Demais (1958)
LP "Canção do Amor Demais (1958)

T om Jobim was making arrangements for an album in which the diva Elizeth Cardoso was going to record only with songs composed by him and Vinícius de Moraes.

Tom decided to call João to accompany Elizeth on the violão in some songs.

The album would be called "Canção do Amor Demais" (Song of Great Love) released by the Festa record company.

And it is here on this legendary LP, where the famous " batida de violão" (guitar rhythm) of the future Bossa Nova is heard for the first time .

João Gilberto participated in two songs, "Outra vez" and "Chega de Saudade".

4 ► "Isso é muito natural"...

Tom Jobim had to use all his prestige at the Odeon record company to convince the director of the record company, Aloysio de Oliveira, to record João Gilberto .

For Aloysio de Oliveira, the reference singer was Dorival Caymmi , the bearer of a powerful and wonderful voice singing "Maracangalha" .

For him, singers with little voice were only for intellectuals and did not sell records.

Tom told him that he would make simple arrangements and that the recording would be quick. Aloysio was only convinced when Dorival Caymmi "in person" assured him that João Gilberto was very good.

Chega de Saudade │ Odeon 14,360 │ 78 rpm.
Chega de Saudade │ Odeon 14,360 │ 78 rpm.

J oão Gilberto recorded a simple CD on the Odeon record company, with "Chega de Saudade" on the side (A) and his composition "Bim Bóm" on the side (B).

In the southern area of Rio de Janeiro, the fashionable instrument became the violão. Everyone wanted to learn to play like João Gilberto .

Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal were not yet professional musicians. They had no economic income to survive with music. So they decided to open a Violo Academy, to earn some money.

According to Menescal, they did not properly teach violão. They taught "la batida" by João Gilberto .

And with "la batida" , came a whole repertoire of songs by Jobim, Vinícius, Jobim & Newton Mendonça, Tito Madi, Luis Bonfá, and the first compositions by Carlos Lyra.

Lyra's first composition to be recorded was "Menina" by Sylvinha Telles. Only she changed the genre, and recorded it as "Menino" . Perhaps to avoid raising doubts about his heterosexuality.

Sylvinha Telles was the main artist of the first Concert of that Youth Group. It was at the facilities of the Hebraic University Group, in the Flamengo neighborhood, in Rio de Janeiro (RJ).

The local secretary, when she went to make the presentation poster for the Concert, did not know the names of the musicians, and did not know what to write.

And he wrote: "Tonight, Sylvinha Telles and a Bossa Nova Group"...!

- Roberto Menescal: "I asked the director, who is this Bossa Nova Group that is also going to play with us today"...?

- Flávio: Nobody knows who that secretariat was. Nobody at the time tried to find out.

But the Group liked the name. And they started talking about Bossa Nova: "Hello Bossa Nova."

Detuned │ Odeon 14.426 │ 78 rpm.
Detuned │ Odeon 14.426 │ 78 rpm.

Tom Jobim & Newton Mendonça composed "Desafinado" with the intention of making a joke and/or a play on words about the out-of-tune singers that they sometimes had to accompany on the piano in the " boates ", on the nights of those "inferninhos" (hells).

When one of the two suggested incorporating that new word "Bossa Nova" into the verses of the song, they were very amused...

It was as if it were a joke between them: "This is Bossa Nova │ This is very natural"...!

The one who first realized that the name "Bossa Nova" could be good for the dissemination of new music was Ronaldo Bôscoli.

Bôscoli was a journalist and had a reporter's nose. He thought that name was perfect. And he began to spread it in newspapers, magazines, radio television, etc...

The name was so popular that before Bossa Nova music became a great international success, Bossa Nova refrigerators and Bossa Nova stoves were already being sold, and even President Juscelino Kubitscheck was known as President Bossa Nova.

At that time Bôscoli began to write song lyrics. And together with Vinícius de Moraes, a certain husband of his sister, they made a revolution within the section of lyricists.

Bossa Nova's lyrics became colloquial, almost chronicles of everyday life, like: "Um chapeuzinho de maiô, ouviu buzina e não parou..." (Little Red Riding Hood, dressed in a bathing suit, heard the horn and didn't stopped...).

They were also positive, affirmative lyrics: " Eu sei que vou te amar" (I know I'm going to love you), "Coisa mais bonito é você pra mim" (For me, you are the most beautiful thing).

The new style of lyrics was just the opposite of the Samba-Canção era, where only the night was talked about.

Now the protagonist was the day: "É sal, é sol, é sul" (It is the salt, the sun, the south), "Día de luz, festa de sol" (Day of light, festival of the sun), "Moça de corpo dourado do sol de Ipanema" (Girl with a body tanned by the sun of Ipanema).

But the real revolution was in the rhythm.

The Bossa Nova was in a certain way, a "whiter" Samba. Less rhythmically complex than traditional or "Raíz" Samba .

That simple rhythm helped a lot to export Bossa Nova. A level of international fame that Samba never had. It was a type of Samba that foreigners could learn to play.

5 ► The conquest of the World

An American guitarist not very well known at the time, Charlie Bird, was invited by the United States Department of State to participate in a tour of South America.

Bird already knew a little about modern Brazilian music, but being in Brazil and seeing "in situ" how Brazilians played was very different than just listening to the records.

And speaking of records, on his return to the USA, Bird invited saxophonist Stan Getz to listen to the records he had brought from Brazil.

The two musicians decide to record that repertoire. The album was called "Jazz Samba", because they had doubts about the functioning of the term Bossa Nova in the North American market.

The LP was released in March 1962. "Desafinado" was by far the most successful song on the album. It initially sold a million copies, reaching first place in the "ranking" of record sales.

Bossa Nova had become a good business. And Americans understand good business.

Sidney Frey, president of the Audio Fidelity record label, decided to organize a Bossa Nova Show at Carnegie Hall , a very important performance house in New York.

The initial idea was to do said Show only with the musicians Tom Jobim and João Gilberto. That's where the big deal was theoretically. Be the publisher of all Jobim music in the United States.

But Jobim's music was already published there. So Sidney decided to expand the range of guests.

He traveled to Brazil and met first-hand that generation of musicians that was emerging, such as Sérgio Mendes, Carlos Lyra, Roberto Menescal, Oscar Castro Neves, etc...

He got support from Itamaraty (Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs ) who financed the plane tickets.

Carnegie Hall │ New York │ 11/21/1962
Carnegie Hall │ New York │ 11/21/1962

Sidney Frey announced that the New York Show already had a date: "November 21, 1962" .

He also commented that he was still deciding on the final cast of artists who would participate in such an important event.

It was a true "pilgrimage" of artists applying to participate in the Concert, claiming that they were all Bossa Nova at heart. The truth is that most of them had nothing to do with Bossa Nova.

The show was a bit messy.

Menescal says that when they went through passport control at the New York Airport, he began to see some of his idols there. Jazz musicians you never thought you would find in your life.

And addressing the rest, he commented: "How lucky we are. We have just arrived and we find ourselves face to face with these beasts here at the Airport"...!

- The local producer responded: "They are here to welcome you . "

- Menescal: "But how... do they know us" ...?

- The local producer: "Of course" ...!

Most Brazilians had no idea what was happening. Only Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Carlos Lyra and Sérgio Mendes knew exactly what was at stake, and they walked onto the Carnegie Hall stage to win.

So much so that they didn't even return to Brazil. They continued through the United States.

Tom Jobim recorded his first album there. And João Gilberto recorded the legendary LP Getz/Gilberto, with saxophonist Stan Getz and his wife at the time, Astrud Gilberto.

LP Getz/Gilberto (1964)
LP Getz/Gilberto (1964)

On this album, Astrud Gilberto presented the legendary song " Garota de Ipanema " │ "The Girl from Ipanema" for the world.

And that's how Bossa Nova spread throughout the musical planet. And in practice, almost at the same time, the first phase of it ended in Brazil.

The poet Jorge Amado commented to João Gilberto : "You have to leave Brazil. Everything you could do here, you have already done."

The fruits of Bossa Nova began to appear, such as the emergence of Jorge Ben, the interest in the traditional Samba of Nara Leão, and mainly the birth of the so-called 2nd generation of Bossa Nova.

Second generation like Baden Powell , Marcos Valle , Wanda Sá , Francis Hime, Dori Caymmi , Edu Lobo , Eumir Deodato, etc...

They continued composing and making music, following the path opened by Bossa Nova.

6 ► Bossa Nova reinvents itself in the 90s

During the 1970s and 1980s, the creators of Bossa Nova continued to release wonderful albums, and play live to audiences around the world.

Bossa Nova was no longer that "fashion" of the moment, it is clear. But it maintained its prestige, in a certain nostalgic way.

And it re-emerged at the "crest of the wave" in 1990, re-discovered by DJs. international, especially from London.

She was the protagonist in the nightclubs where Acid-Jazz was played, which was a mix of Jazz with Soul, Funk and Disco music. Some DJs. like Gilles Peterson or Joe Davis, began to "play" the original Bossa Nova records in their sessions. And many of them were instrumental music.

Eumir Deodato, Marcos Valle, Joyce Moreno and the Azimuth group are some of the artists who were discovered by this new generation of young people in the 1990s.

Nobody stayed stuck in the past. They continued recording and releasing new albums, which were always very well received.

Some international groups of the time such as "Everything but the girl", "Swing Out Sister" or Suzanne Vega herself, were highly influenced by Bossa Nova.

Even Sting, bassist and composer of the rock band "The Police", recorded a great hit. This is the song "Fragile" , clearly inspired by Bossano.

But the definitive leap in reach to reach a larger audience came at the end of the 90s with the mixture of electronic music with Bossa Nova.

The great success of that time was the album "Tanto Tempo" by Bebel Gilberto, João's daughter.

Released in 2000, the CD reached 1 million copies. The highest sales volume of Bossa Nova since the 60s...

The singer Fernanda Porto in collaboration with the DJ. Patife also had great success, especially in Europe with the single "Sambassim" .

Other groups emerged with the same proposal, such as the Dutch group Zuco 103 with the Brazilian singer Lilian Vieira.

BossaCucaNova │ CD Revisited Classics (1999)
BossaCucaNova │ CD Revisited Classics (1999)

And also the group BossaCucaNova , formed by Cris Delanno, Alex Moreira, Marcelinho da Lua and Marcio Menescal, son of Roberto Menescal.

Menescal is still active after having filmed all over the world, performing on large stages and important music festivals.

7 ► The future...

Bossa Nova will never die...!

Just as Jazz exists, just as Rock exists, just as Flamenco exists, just as Bolero exists, Bossa Nova exists.

Just as there are Bach, Beethoven, Gershwin or Cole Porter, there are Tom Jobim, João Gilberto, Carlos Lyra and/or Roberto Menescal.

Bossa Nova has not been Brazilian for many years.

She is already a World Heritage Site...! ❤

Flávio Mendes │ O Arranjo
Flávio Mendes │ O Arranjo

This Bossa Nova Clube themed "post" It is based on the literary translation of the classroom video "Isso é Bossa Nova" by Flávio Mendes and his YouTube Channel "O Arranjo".

In addition to being a great musician and musical arranger, Flávio Mendes doubles himself in this video.

He is the director, screenwriter, cameraman, researcher, audio and video editor, as well as the announcer and presenter.

Perhaps this is the key that explains the wonder of the perfect harmony of musical knowledge with the chronology of the times of the images, themes, stories and/or anecdotes that keep the interest of the video maintained at all times.

For a long time, perhaps forever, I have tried to explain and argue the Bossa Nova phenomenon and its consequences in the musical world.

Until now, I have never been convinced that these arguments are complete.

Thank you Flávio, your work is simply definitive │ "A Bossa thanks" ...!

PS ► This post was originally published on www, on 11/25/2020

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