March 9, 2021

Joao Gilberto dies, the father of bossa nova


Joao Gilberto, the father and genius of bossa nova, died yesterday at age 88 for causes not yet revealed. A man left who founded and defined a genre, the bossa nova, which would be a flag not only of his, but of a whole country. Brazil is bossa nova, among other things. That is to say, Brazil is Joao Gilberto.

«My father has passed away. It tried to maintain the dignity before the loss of its sovereignty. I thank my family (next to my family) for being there with him, "his son Marcelo Gilberto wrote in English from his residence in the United States.

The artist is considered one of his promoters along with other geniuses such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. Together they are responsible for classics of contemporary music such as "Desafinado", "Brigas, Nunca Mais", among many others. That is, songs that transcended beyond the musical spirit. Because bossa nova would become almost a way of life, a way of feeling, a way of teaching what a Brazilian felt.

The impressive thing about Joao Gilberto was the way in which he showed the world a new genre: he learned to play the guitar in a self-taught way and made his own absolutely iconic chords and rhythm.

Born in Juazeiro on July 10, 1931, at the age of 19 he emigrated to Rio de Janeiro, where he began to acquire notoriety by singing in the Garotos da Lua band. There he began to offer samples of his untamed character and was expelled from the band for not adhering to rules. Both musical and vital. He took the time to start working on a vision: bossa nova. His efforts bore fruit when he met another great talent, Tom Jobim, a lover of jazz with whom he has already definitively traced the style. And that included a very suggestive way of singing, as in a whisper, providing an extraordinary warmth.

In 1958 the album "Canção do Amor Demais" by Elizeth Cardoso would appear, with compositions by Jobim and the sensitive lyrics of Vinícius de Moraes. A discovery. And shortly after Joao Gilberto would record his first work, "Chega de Saudade." The title song would be a success in the country and would definitely launch the new star of the Brazilian song.

The style would cross borders and reach the United States, where jazz musicians would be fascinated by a sound that they related to their style. For example, with the sax teacher Stan Getz, who in 1963 would invite Joao Gilberto and Tom Jobim to collaborate in a "Getz / Gilberto", with tremendous commercial and critical success. The bossa nova was already an international style. There was the famous «Chica de Ipanema», a classic of contemporary music.

The restless and creative character of Joao Gilberto would impel him to expand the horizons of the genre and in the seventies he would continue to add wonders to his discography. For example, in 1977 he published the sensational "Amoroso", with arrangements by Claus Ogerman.

Other albums worth mentioning for their influence, impact and innovation would be «Brazil», along with Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and María Bethania, who by the end of the 1960s had created the «Tropicalismo» movement, merging bossa nova and the pop and rock. And in 1991 he would teach "Joao," a unique album as it contained no composition by Tom Jobim. In return, it would count with songs of Caetano, Cole Porter and several compositions in Spanish. The work "Joao Voz e Violão", from 2000, would mark a return to the classics of bossa nova and with the musical production of Caetano Veloso, another of those essential records in his career.

Joao Gilberto would also know how to exploit his sensibility with countless tours in which he would show all his ability to communicate with the audience, who was enthralled by his warm and emotional interpretations. Live discs like "Live in Montreux", "Prado Pereira de Oliveira", "Live at Umbria Jazz" or "In Tokyo" are excellent documents that show all the power of transmission of the artist and his music.

His last years were painful. Always disorderly, he lived harassed by debts and family intrigues. Just the kind of end that nobody wants for himself. Now, in his death, glory belongs to him.

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