Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Bossa Nova over and Over

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Bossa Nova over and Over

Article excerpt

As it turns out, "The Girl from Ipanema" truly was just a tease. When the 1963 recording of Antonio Carlos Jobim's song by vocalist Astrud Gilberto, saxophonist Stan Getz, and guitarist Joao Gilberto swam against the tide of rock and roll to become one of the biggest popular music hits of its day, the world at large was afforded a brief but telling insight into a movement that was reshaping Brazil's popular culture.

Bossa nova, the samba-rooted, jazz-influenced style that boasted poetic lyrics and haunting melodies, had become the new music language of Brazil in the late 1950s, a symbol of that nation's artistic prowess and cultural dynamism. And while bossa became an international sensation, the craze that rocketed the style's songs and performers to the front ranks of global popularity proved to be short lived. Within a few years, bossa had retreated from the pop charts to jazz bistros.

Today, bossa is back and stronger than ever, its inherent freshness, musical sophistication and youthful spirit as invigorating today as when it first appeared on a world music stage dominated by the likes of Elvis and the Beatles. Longtime aficionados of the style, frustrated in recent decades by the highly irregular appearance of new bossa recordings and the failure of record companies to reissue historic sessions from the 1960s, have much to celebrate in the current bossa renaissance.

Thanks to the growing worldwide interest in the genre, including dance club disk jockeys in London and other European capitals and a cult of obsessive bossa addicts in Japan, essential recordings that seemed to have been forgotten are now appearing with increasing regularity, and from an astounding variety of sources around the globe. Remarkably, albums that rarely saw the light of day outside Brazil in their initial incarnations, by such fabled bossa artists as the Sambalanco Trio, pianist Tenorio Jr., Quarteto Novo, Carlos Lyra, and Wanda Sa are now available with their striking cover art intact and the benefit of dramatically enhanced CD sound.

Germany's Motor Music, for instance, has reissued some of bossa organist Walter Wanderley's rarest early 1960s recorded-in-Brazil tracks, while the Japanese subsidiary of the PolyGram label has released the late musician's entire discography on the Verve and A&M labels, including such definitive works as Batucada (1967). That ambitious Japanese reissue program has also resulted in the reappearance of such coveted albums as Barra Limpa (1967), an extremely rare recording by the obscure but highly talented vocalist Luiz Henrique; We and the Sea (1967), by the trend-setting instrumental group Tamba Four; guitarist Luiz Bonfa's 1962 release Bossa Nova featuring Argentine pianist Lalo Schifrin and Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves; and Sergio Mendes Presents Lobo (1970), the long-missing cornerstone of the great Edu Lobo's impressive bossa-influenced discography.

And that's only the beginning. Thank the French for the reissue of My Favorite Things, a forgotten 1967 instrumental session by pianist Sergio Mendes for the Atlantic label, featuring music by Caetano Veloso, Dori Caymmi, Baden Powell, and Lobo. From the Barcelona, Spain-based label Ubatuqui comes a four-disc series of early 1960s bossa combo recordings by keyboardist Eumir Deodato, featuring many of Brazil's best young jazz instrumentalists of that era, while the British label Mr. Bongo is responsible for the long-overdue release of albums by the highly influential bossa nova composer and singer Marcos Valle on its two volumes of The Essential Marcos Valle.

Not to be outdone, Brazilian labels like CID, EMI, and PolyGram are digging deep into their bossa archives, releasing multi-album CD reissues by such legendary exponents of the style as drummer Milton Banana, pianist Joao Donato, singer Pery Ribeiro, and the vocal group Quarteto Em Cy. PolyGram's impressive No Tempo da Bossa Nova [At the Time of the Bossa Nova] series includes one-of-a-kind reissues of albums by Tom Jobim, Nara Leao, Maysa, Vinicius de Moraes, Sergio Ricardo, Sylvia Telles, and other bossa icons, complete with liner notes in both Portuguese and English and the eye-catching original artwork. …

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