Biography of Bahian singer and composer João Gilberto

Biography of João Gilberto
Biography of João Gilberto

João Gilberto do Prado Pereira de Oliveira (Juazeiro, June 10, 1931), better known as João Gilberto, is a Brazilian musician, considered the creator of the bossa nova rhythm.

Biography of João Gilberto

João Gilberto was born in Bahia, in the country town of Juazeiro, João got a guitar at the age of 14, and since then, he has never given it up. In the 1940s, I loved listening to music from Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey to Dorival Caymmi and Dalva de Oliveira.

At 18, João Gilberto decides to move to Salvador with the intention of becoming a radio singer and crooner. Then, he went to Rio de Janeiro, in 1950, and had some success singing in the group Garotos da Lua.

However, he was thrown out of the band for indiscipline, spending a few years in a marginal existence, albeit obsessed with the idea of ​​creating a new way of expressing himself with the guitar.

His effort was finally rewarded and, after meeting Tom Jobim – a pianist used to classical music and also a composer, influenced by American music at the time (mainly jazz) – and a group of middle-class university students, also musicians, launched the movement that became known as bossa nova.

History of Bossa Nova

The bossa nova rhythm is a mixture of the syncopated rhythm of the samba percussion in a simplified and at the same time sophisticated form, which can be played on a guitar (without additional accompaniment), whose technique was invented by João Gilberto.

As for the vocal technique (an integral part of the bossa nova concept), it is a technique of singing in a uniform tone of voice, with a voice emitted without vibrato, and with phrasing arranged in a unique and unconventional way (sometimes anticipating, sometimes after the rhythmic basis), and in order to eliminate almost all breathing noise and other imperfections.

Despite his fame with the then-newly created bossa nova, his first commercially released recording was a participation as a guitarist in Elizeth Cardoso's 1958 album Canção do Amor Demais, composed of songs by Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes. Shortly after this recording, João Gilberto recorded his first LP, Chega de Saudade.

The title track, composed by Tom and which also appeared on Elizeth Cardoso's album, was a success in Brazil, launching the career of João Gilberto and, consequently, the whole bossa nova movement.

In addition to some compositions by Tom Jobim, the album featured older sambas and popular songs from the 1930s, but all played in bossa nova rhythm. This album was followed by two others, in 1960 and 1961, in which he featured new music from a new generation of singer-songwriters such as Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal.

By 1962, bossa nova had been adopted by American jazz musicians such as Herbie Mann, Charlie Byrd, and Stan Getz. At the invitation of Stan Getz, João Gilberto and Tom Jobim collaborated on what became one of the best jazz albums of all time, Getz/Gilberto.

With this album, Astrud Gilberto, wife of João Gilberto at the time, became an international star, and Jobim Garota de Ipanema's composition (in its English version, The Girl from Ipanema) became a worldwide success, and pop model for all the ages.

João Gilberto continued to perform in the 1960s, but did not release other works until 1968, when he recorded Ela é Carioca, during his time in Mexico.

João Gilberto's album, sometimes referred to as bossa nova's “white album” (in allusion to the Beatles' white album) was released in 1973, and has an almost mystical musical sensibility, its first noticeable style change in a decade.

1976 saw the release of the album The Best of Two Worlds, with the participation of Stan Getz and the singer Miúcha, who became João Gilberto's second wife in April 1965. Amoroso, from 1977, was arranged by Claus Ogerman, who sought a sound similar to Tom Jobim's. The repertoire consisted of old sambas and some North American musical patterns from the 1940s.

In the 80s in Brazil, João Gilberto collaborated with Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and Maria Bethânia (creators, in the late 1960s, of the movement known as Tropicália). In 1991 he released the album João, which had no composition by Tom Jobim.

Instead, it featured works by Caetano, Cole Porter and Spanish-speaking composers. João Voz E Violão, released in 2000, marked a return to bossa nova classics such as “Chega de Saudade” and “Desafinado”. The CD, a tribute to the music of his youth, was produced by Caetano Veloso.

Interspersed with these studio recordings, there were also live recordings, such as Live in Montreux, Prado Pereira de Oliveira or Live at Umbria Jazz.

bossa nova in recent years

One of João's rare tours in Brazil was announced in 2008. Tickets for two performances at the Ibirapuera Auditorium in São Paulo were all sold out in approximately one hour, in Rio de Janeiro, for a performance at the Municipal Theater. It happened.

At the concerts in São Paulo, the big surprises were the performance of songs not previously recorded by João, such as 13 de Ouro, Dor de Cotovelo, Hino Ao Sol / O Mar, Chove Lá Fora, Dobrado de Amor a São Paulo, and an unprecedented song of his own authorship, in honor of Japan.

Biography of Bahian singer and composer João Gilberto

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  1. Pingback: Bossa Nova conquered the world - History of Bossa Nova - videos

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