If you tune in to 88.1 on Tuesdays right before noon, you may hear the sweet sounds of Stan Getz, João Gilberto, or Antônio Carlos Jobim. I like to end my show on WKNC with a sendoff from one of my favorite genres: bossa nova.
Bossa nova literally translates to “new wave” in Portuguese. Mostly stemming from Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s and 60s, it is a fusion of samba and jazz. The genre is recognized by its steady beats, classical guitar, and light percussion. Popular among the young, growing Brazilian middle class, it gained notability through João Gilberto and his 1958 single “Chega de Saudade,” composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim. The two would later go on to collaborate on several more albums, all laying the foundations for making bossa nova an international genre. Jobim also worked with saxophonist Stan Getz on their most notable album “Getz/Gilberto,” which contains one of the most popular songs of all time, “The Girl from Ipanema.”
Bossa nova also has a really fascinating political history. Under a new military dictatorship in the 1960s, bossa nova was slowly censored and eventually banned. Bossa nova lyrics, which typically focus on light topics such as love and Brazilian beaches, were seen as unfit for the times and therefore left in the past. Out of this social unrest, musicians formed new styles of music that better reflected the feelings of the Brazilian people, most specifically the working classes, based on the sounds of bossa nova, modern rock, and traditional Brazilian music. Some of these include tropicalia and música popular brasileira.
My mom’s side of the family is Brazilian, so I grew up listening to bossa nova. I have fond memories of my grandpa teaching me how to dance while we listened to “Aquarela do Brasil.” It is a comforting sound and something I consider part of my own cultural heritage. If you’re interested in listening, here are some classics for easy listening:
1. Insensatez – Stan Getz & Luiz Bonfá
2. Roda-Viva – Chico Buarque
3. Mas, Que Nada! – Jorge Ben
4. Carta Ao Tom 74 – Vincius de Moraes, Toquinho, & Quarteto Em Cy
5. O Grande Amor – Stan Getz & João Gilberto Quintet
6. Corcovado – Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim, & João Gilberto
7. Aquarela do Brasil – João Gilberto
8. The Girl from Ipanema – Stan Getz & João Gilberto
9. Chove Chuva – Jorge Ben
10. Chega de Saudade – João Gilberto