The Girl from Ipanema
The Girl from Ipanema  presents  presents

Bossa Nova Music in Rio
-Stan Getz
-Norman Gimbel
-French Connection
Ipanema Video Player
Link List
Black Orpheus
While the bikini girl breakthough occurred in 1964, Bossa Nova's 1st recording was in 1958. This page, published in 2008, is dedicated to its 50th anniversary
Bikini history Rio de Janeiro's signature song has sparked important chapters in this endearing evolution
Baths of Pompeii How far apart were the Romans from the baths & beachs or Rio today?

Versions of Girl from Ipanema

Versions of Garota de Ipanema
MP3s of Girl from Ipanema
Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim
Music of Vinicius de Moraes
Music of João Gilberto
Music of Astrud Gilberto
Music of Stan Getz
Buy Ela é carioca: Uma enciclopédia de Ipanema by Ruy Castro (in Portuguese) at
Black Orpheus
Black Orpheus MP3s
"Girl from Ipanema" | "Garôta de Ipanema," a bossa nova song, was first recorded in 1962 by Pery Ribeiro. A 1964 recording became an American hit. That recording, sung by Astrud Gilberto in English and in Portuguese by João Gilberto, with João Gilberto on guitar, Stan Getz on saxophone, and the composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, on piano, appeared on the 1964 album Getz/Gilberto, which introduced Bossa Nova to audiences worldwide. Their "The Girl from Ipanema" won a Grammy Award. The title piece became one of the most well-known latin jazz pieces of all time. Getz/Gilberto won two Grammys (Best Album and Best Single), besting besting The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night, a victory for Bossa Nova and Brazilian jazz.
Antonio Carlos Jobim also known as Tom Jobim, (January 25, 1927 in Rio de Janeiro – December 8, 1994 in New York City), A primary force behind the creation of the bossa nova style, Jobim is acknowledged as one of the most influential popular composers of the 20th century.   
Vinicius de Moraes (October 19, 1913 - July 9, 1980)
João Gilberto was born on June 10, 1931 in Juazeiro, Bahia) He is credited with having created the bossa nova beat and is known as the "Father of Bossa Nova." as well as O Mito (The Legend)
Stan Getz: Jazz saxophone player Stan Getz (February 2, 1927 in Philadelphia – June 6, 1991 in Malibu, California) became a central figure in Bossa nova. Along with guitarist Charlie Byrd, who had just returned from a U.S. State Department tour of Brazil, Getz and Byrd recorded Jazz Samba in 1962 and it became the  hit which pushed bossa nova into the mainstream of American music. The title track was an adaptation of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba (Samba de Uma Nota Só)". Getz won the Grammy for Best Jazz Performance of 1963 for "Desafinado".  In 1961 Herbie Mann took a tour of Brazil and returned to the United States to record with Brazilian players including Antonio Carlos Jobim and guitarist Baden Powell. Mann was an early pioneer in the fusing of jazz and world music. He incorporated elements of African music
Norman Gimbel In 1963, Norman Gimbel was introduced by music publisher Lou Levy to a group of young Brazilian bossa nova composers, including Antônio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfá and Baden Powell, for whose works he started writing English-language lyrics. Most notably, he created the lyrics for Marcos Valle's "So Nice (Summer Samba)" as well as Jobim’s "How Insensitive?", "The Girl from Ipanema" (turning it into a top hit for Astrud Gilberto) and "Meditation", which has gained the status of a "classic" of jazz and Brazilian music. 
In 1984, Norman Gimbel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has continued to be active in film into 2007
Bossa nova jazz standards
--Chega de Saudade (listen to excerpt)as "enough longing", though the Portuguese word saudade carries with it a far more complex meaning.
Let's stop this thing
Of you living without me.
--Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)
--Crickets Sing for Anamaria
--Desafinado "Slightly out of Tune," composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim with lyrics by Newton Mendonça A major 1962 hit for Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd was a major hit in 1962
--The Girl from Ipanema
--How Insensitive (Insensatez)
--If You Never Come to Me (Inútil Paisagen)
Manhã De Carnaval (A Day in the Life of a Fool) by Luiz Bonfá and Antonio Maria got branded popularly as the movie theme in "Black Orpheus"
--Mas Que Nada
--Meditation (Meditação)
--One Note Samba (Samba de Uma Nota Só)
--Someone to Light up My Life (Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Você)
--Summer Samba
--Water to Drink
(Agua de Beber)
Waters of March
 --Wave (song)
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Luiz Bonfá:(October 17, 1922 - January 12, 2001)  guitarist and composer best known for the compositions he penned for the film Black Orpheus. Manhã de Carnaval (translated to English as A Day In the Life of a Fool), which has been among the top ten standards played worldwide, Bonfá was at heart an exponent of the bold, lyrical, lushly orchestrated, and emotionally charged samba-canção style that predated the arrival of bossa nova. Bonfá became a highly visible ambassador of Brazilian music in the United States beginning with the famous November 1962 Bossa Nova concert at New York's Carnegie Hall. As a composer and as a guitarist, Bonfá played a pivotal role in bridging the incumbent samba-canção style with the innovations of the Bossa Nova movement. Although he continued to tour and write, eventually cutting over 50 albums, he disappeared from USA music scene after the 60's

Orpheus & Eurydice
The film Black_Orpheus was based on the
1956 play Orfeu de Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, nicknamed O Poetinha (the little poet) (October 19, 1913 - July 9, 1980). As a poet, he wrote lyrics for a great number of songs that became all-time classics. He was also a composer of Bossa nova, a playwright, a diplomat and, as an interpreter of his own songs, he left several important albums. In the 60's and 70's, Vinicius continued collaborating with many renowned Brazilian singers and musicians, particularly Baden Powell, with whom he penned a series of songs with a heavy Afro-Brazilian influence and which came to be known collectively as the Afro-Sambas.

He also toured through Europe with Chico Buarque and Nara Leão and Argentina with Dorival Caymmi and Oscar Castro-Neves. His last steady music partner was Antonio Pecci Filho, better known as Toquinho.

Tropicalismo, is a Brazilian art movement that arose in the late 1960s and encompassed theatre, poetry and music, among other forms. Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are considered the leaders of the movement. Now many years since its inception, tropicália and its pioneers continued to be cited by Brazilian musicians as sources of musical creativity and inspiration.
Bebel Gilberto (born Isabel Gilberto on May 12, 1966 in New York City) is a Grammy Award-nominated Brazilian popular singer often associated with bossa nova. She is the daughter of João Gilberto and singer Miúcha. Her uncle is singer/composer Chico Buarque. Bebel has been performing since her youth in Rio de Janeiro.

In 2006, Bebel started writing and producing the songs that would become part of her third album, Momento, released in April 2007. On this album, Bebel collaborated with UK producer Guy Sigsworth, her friends Didi Gutman and Sabina Sciubba (from NY based band Brazilian Girls) and the Rio based Orquestra Imperial.

Bebel is single and still resides in New York City where her band is based

French Connection
An early influence of bossa nova was the song "Dans mon île" by French singer Henri Salvador, featured in a 1957 Italian movie distributed in Brazil (Europa di notte by Alessandro Blasetti) and covered later by Brazilian artists Eumir Deodato (Los Danseros en Bolero - 1964) and Caetano himself (Outras Palavras - 1981). In 2005, Henri Salvador was awarded the Brazilian Order of Cultural Merit, which he received from singer and Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, in the presence of President Lula for his influence on Brazilian culture.
Other important Bossa Nova artists include:
Girl from Ipanema
Black Orpheus
Ipanema Video Player

YouTube - Girl from Impanema Zack Kim

YouTube - Bossa Nova Composer Luiz Bonfa Introduced By ...

YouTube - Suzana Da Camara - Girl From Ipanema live at the Montreal Bistro and Jazz Club

YouTube - Sylvia Telles - Samba de Uma Nota Só (1966).
2 min 10 sec -

YouTube - Sinatra e Tom Jobim

YouTube - Andy Williams & Antonio Carlos Jobim

Bebel Gilberto
Astrud Gilberto web site
Antonio Carlos Jobim: Clube do Tom [Portuguès] | Tom's Club [in English].
Vinicius de Moraes: Toca do Vinicius
The 1967 movie, GARÔTA DE IPANEMA in the Internet Movie Database no music
 Bossa_nova 40 year of bossa nova @
Black Orpheus The film and bossa nova @
By Wayne Whitwam

"The way this music started is the ghetto. Samba came from the slums on the top of the mountains, where the blacks worked in the white people's houses. Then the intelligentsia came along and put nice philosophical intimate lyrics and here comes bossa nova."

Blog of Helo Pinheiro - Musa of the song "The Girl From Ipanema
Plain João—The Man Who Invented Bossa Nova, a biographical profile by Daniella Thompson
Review of Ruy Castro's book Bossa Nova @
"But in the process of his exposition, you find yourself increasingly drawn into the deeply personal nature of the music. He might make a point of correcting errors on record sleeves, but he's also got a brilliant sense of humor." By Nils Jacobson
For the first half of its history Ipanema was obscured by the sparkle of Copacabana. The  neighborhood lived among the peacefulness of its squares, beaches and low houses until the dawn of the 60's, when a powerful artists colony exploded across the planet. With French and Italian help, Black Orpheus by Tom Jobin and Vinicius de Moraes was made into a movie that  captured the attention of first the country and then the world. The film was empowered by Rio Carnaval, a timeless myth of lost love and a new kind of smooth samba. The music would soon be universally known and loved as bossa nova music by its signature song:
The Girl from Ipanema

In 1894 Vila Ipanema was founded, with 19 streets and 2 parks. The neighborhood started to grow faster with the arrival of streetcars in 1902. Ipanema became a household name in the 1950's and 60's - it is the birthplace of Bossa Nova. The whole world learned about the Brazilian jazz form and the Rio Sul neighborhood soon after the song (recorded in New York City) was released

"The Girl from Impanema"
has ranked as high as the 2nd most performed & recorded song in the world!
 [right after the Beatle's "Yesterday"]1

  Manuscript of "Garota de Ipanema" and Héloise Pinheiro, in Ipanema, in the book Ela e carioca |

  This, of course, was the hit song "The Girl from Ipanema" by Antonio Carlos [Ton] Jobim and Vinícius de Morais, both Ipanema residents who hung out at Bar Veloso.

You can still come to Ipanema and sit in this most famous of bars and eventually hear this most covered of songs where it was actually written in 1962. To hear it sung live visit one of these spots.
A Garota de Ipanema
Joao Gilberto [guitar] and Ton Jobim piano reunite to play their old song, The Girl From Ipanema (A Garota de Ipanema)

INTRODUCTION: João singing and playing: Tom, and you compose a song now that can tell us what love is.
(Tom) See, Joãozinho, I should not know without Vinícius to make poetry.
(Vinicius) For this song to become real, I wonder if the singer should be João.
oão) Ah, but who am I? You are better than me. It should be nice if we sing it as three.



'"the exemplar of the raw Carioca: a golden-tanned girl, a mixture of flower and mermaid, full of brightness and grace, the sight of whom is also sad, in that she carries with her, on her route to the sea, the feeling of beauty that fades, of the beauty that is not ours alone — it is a gift of life in its constant, beautiful and melancholic ebb and flow."

---Vinicius de Moraes who wrote the original Portuguese lyrics

“she had long, golden hair, these bright green eyes that shone at you and a fantastic figure: let’s just say she had everything in the right place…”

 ---master of Bossa Nova Antonio Carlos Jobim

  • Tall and tan and young and lovely,

  • The girl from Ipanema goes walking,

  • And when she passes each one she passes goes "a-a-ah!"

  • When she walks she's like a sambaThe Girl From Ipanema that,

  • Swings so cool and sways so gentle,

  • That when she passes each one she passes goes "a-a-ah!"

  • Oh, but I watch her so sadly, How can I tell her I love her?

  • Yes, I would give my heart gladly

  • But each day when she walks to the sea,

  • She looks straight ahead not at me

  • Tall and tan and young and lovely,

  • The girl from Ipanema goes walking,

  • And when she passes I smile, but she doesn't see,

  • She just doesn't see, No she doesn't see

English lyrics by Norman Gimbel


A Cruise with the Muse

from object of desire in the 60's to empowered feminine in the 90's

As for the famous girl, Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes did in fact see her as they sat in the Veloso bar, during the winter of 1962—not just once, but several times, and not always on her way to the beach but also her way to school, to the dressmaker, and even to the dentist.
1965: A poet & his muse

Helo: the girl that walked to the sea, swinging and swaying like a samba.

Vinicius de Moraes in 1965 introduced Helo to the press and the world using his inimitable prose.[more]

This was mostly because Heloisa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto, better known as Helo, who was eighteen years of age, five feet, eight inches tall, with green eyes and long, flowing black hair, lived in Rua Montenegro and was already the object of much admiration among patrons of the Veloso, where she would frequently stop to buy  cigarettes for her mother—and leave to a cacophony of wolf-whistles. Heloisa lived at Rua Montenegro 22, between the Prudente de Morais and the beach.

After a prolonged period of restraint, Helo did theDownload obvious thing. She posed for the Brazilian Playboy in 1987. This was likely good for her modeling agency and a clothing store, both which happen to be named Garota de Ipanema.

In her 1996 autobiography, “Por Causa do Amor”, she writes:  “The middle class philosophy was to discourage and even repress any attempts to do anything other than bringing up children and being the perfect housewife”. Fernando, to whom she was recently engaged, and her army general father refused to allow her, at age 21, to leave home.  In 1960 less than 12% of all jobs in Brazil were held by women and only 20% of all college students were women.  Brazilian culture respected machismo rules during this time.  Helo became a symbol of an empowered yet feminine individual who was challenging a society that until 1991 had made it legal for a man to kill his wife if he thought she was cheating on him.      

In 2001, Helô Pinheiro opened her “Garota de Ipanema” boutique in Sao Paulo, catering mostly to women and offering a variety of beachwear. She was sued by the heirs to their fathers' copyright recordings for using "The Girl from Ipanema" lyrics on T-shirts and allegedly as her boutique's name, despite it being the composer's intention. Ipanema locals were very upset, where her story is equally part of the folklore. In February 2004, after much legal wrangling, the court ruled in favor of Helô Pinheiro stating “…without her there would not have been the song”.  

Helo & daughter Ticiane Pinheiro were together on the April 2003 cover of Brazil's Playboy magazine

She has relaxed a bit now that her children are grown.  Helô and Fernando live in Sao Paolo with their son Fernando Jr, who suffers from serious learning difficulties.  Her daughter Kiki is a former model turned business-woman, daughter Georgiani is a psychologist, and daughter Ticiane is a very successful super-model.  Helô’s main occupation these days centers on her Garota de Ipanema boutiques in Sao Paolo, where she sells a variety a women’s beachwear.  And at the age of “you do the math” Helô is still a looker.  She and Ticiane appeared in a photo shoot in the March 2003 issue of the Brazilian Playboy magazine.

In the sixties, Helô was the icon of Brazilian femininity.  Today she is an example of it. 
Garota de Ipanema
Rua Vinicius de Moraes and Rua Prudente de Morais, Ipanema - on the corner

 Renamed after the song, which according to legend was written here in 1962, the Garota de Ipanema Restaurant is very proud of its draught beer,  and features a large wine list from it's wine cellar. You will also find a great variety of  specialty drinks. The corner location is still one of the world's great angles of repose for watching the bathing beauties from Ipanema stroll by open to the public daily from 12 a.m. until the last client walks out.

"the Garota itself is neither a musical nor cultural hot spot."
Frommers @
"more of a tavern than a restaurant, serving primarily finger food, most of it very average. It's also part boutique, selling a number of souvenirs and T-shirts cashing in on the song. One comes here for the legend, not the food." Dominick A. Merle for

Toca do Vinícius Rua Vinícius de Morais, 129 2247-5227] Not far  down the street from the bar. A small shop devoted to Bossa Nova, with  memorabilia,  CD's, books and songbooks.  If you are lucky, you will catch a free performance.

João Gilberto
João Gilberto (top-center) with Garotos da Lua who sang daily on Radio Tupi in Rio de Janeiro in the 50's. Radio Tupi new artistic director Antônio Maria,( who later wrote the lyrics of “Manhã de Carnaval,” theme of the film Orfeu Negro) wanted the Garotos da Lua lead singer Silva replaced because he was singing baixinho and forcing the whole group to “whisper”—and when it came to singing carnaval songs, they “just didn’t make it” At 18, Gilberto had given up on his small town life and headed to Bahia's largest city, Salvador, to get a foothold in the music industry performing on live radio shows. João was only moderately successful when he got this big break, but his head and heart were elsewhere and was replaced a year later. Ironically the bossa nova  style he returned to Rio's Ipanema with many year's later also has been called a "whisper."

For seven lean years after losing his Rio radio gig he was out of regular work. By his mid-twenties João was depressed and a heavy user of marijuana(maconha ). He had no fixed address, drifting from friend to friend and acquaintance to acquaintance, living off their kindness and contributing only his genius to the household, and then generally only in the evening. His appearance was unkempt, his hair long, his clothes ragged. Almost no one would hire him. João’s girlfriend at the time, Sylvia Telles (later a successful bossa nova singers), left him for another musician.

A visit to Puerto Alegre rehabilitated him, where he became the toast of the large but provincial gaucho city through the sponsorship of musician  Luiz Telles from the gaucho singing group Quitandinha Serenaders. This was followed by an intense stay at his sister's home in the historic mining town Diamantina, where his elder sister Dadainha lived with her husband. This is where he perfected his new style. João was ready for a return to Rio.

João Gilberto soon looked up Tom Jobim, whose music career had blossomed since his earlier acquaintance. Tom was able to work full-time as a composer, as well as recording arranger and producer at the British-owned record label Odeon (now EMI). When João played “Bim-Bom” and “Hô-Ba-La-Lá” for Tom, the latter was impressed with the possibilities inherent in the beat: it simplified the rhythm of samba and allowed a lot of room for modern harmonies of the kind Tom was creating. He though the song he had written with Vinicius de Moraes at least a year earlier, “Chega de Saudade.” would make an ideal match.

Plain João

The Man Who Invented Bossa Nova.

  Hailed as a genius, clucked over as a reclusive eccentric, and arguably the most enigmatic Brazilian alive, João Gilberto continues to confound his countrymen fifty years after he burst upon the public scene and changed Brazilian music forever. [more]
Daniella Thompson
Stan Getz's version of  The Girl from Ipanema featuring his tenor saxophone helped popularize the Bossa Nova sound. In 2005, this was covered by João's daughter, Bebel Gilberto, and sung as a duet with smooth jazz saxophone star Kenny G.
Black Orpheus
Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro in Portuguese) is a

 1959 film made in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus. It is based on the play Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, which is an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, setting it in the modern context of Rio de Janeiro during the Carnaval. The film was an international co-production between production companies in Brazil, France and Italy.

Only a year before (November 1957), Antonio Carlos Jobim (and Newton Mendonca) had released the album Desafinado, featuring this new style of samba, incorporating it with jazz stylings, poetic lyrics sung by João Gilberto, and a 4 on 3 stammering rhythm. Jobim and Luis Bonfa wrote the soundtrack to the motion picture, featuring songs such as "Manhã de Carnaval" (written by Luiz Bonfá) and "A felicidade" that were to become Bossa nova classics.

Orpheus Breno Mello is a happy-go-lucky trolley conductor in Rio de Janeiro and Eurydice Marpessa Dawn a young girl from the country who has come to stay with her cousin in a Rio slum high on a mountain overlooking the city. Their destiny is to fall in love.

With only a draft version, in 1954, playright Vinicius' original play won the contest commemorating the Fourth Centennial Celebration of the founding of the City of São Paulo. Later in 1956, during the production of his play, he was introduced to a relatively unknown pianist, Antonio Carlos Jobim, who was commissioned with writing the music for the play. Jobim composed the music for Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Você, Um Nome de Mulher, and several other songs included in the production. The most popular song from the show was "Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Você" ("Someone to Light Up My Life").

Later, when the play was turned into a film, producer Sacha Gordine did not want to use any of the existing music from the play. Gordine asked de Moraes and Jobim for a new score for the film Black Orpheus (1959). Viniciusaway in Montevideo, Uruguay at the time, working for the Itamaraty (the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and so he and Jobim were only able to write three songs, primarily over the telephone ("A Felicidade", "Frevo",and "O Nosso Amor"). This collaboration proved successful, and Vinicius went on to pen the lyrics to some of Jobim's most popular songs.

The film, directed by Frenchman Marcel Camus and with an all-Black cast,  achieved great acclaim in 1958, winning the Palme d'Or and an Oscar.

The mythically charged film tells the story of a charmed guitar player who must eventually make peace with death. The story was grafted onto one of the great living myths, Orpheus and Euridice, using Carnaval, Rio de Janeiro,  favelas and Condomble to create the parallel other worlds. "Black Orpheus" remains at the top of the surprisingly small list of Carnaval films.

kj Innocent Eurydice in an elegant French ball gown at her first and last Carnaval. Orfeu will find himself unable to protect his new love from the unwelcome attentions of a dark stranger who makes his fatal strike while the carnival’s at its height and his skeleton outfit blends right in.
When was your last Carnaval?

 The film begins with Orpheus and his fiancée going to get a marriage license. After they get the license his fiancée agrees to buy her own ring because Orpheus wants to get his guitar out of the pawn shop for the carnival. The clerk at the courthouse makes reference to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, causing Orpheus's fiancée to get jealous and assume that there is another woman in his life. When Orpheus gets home, he finds that his neighbor Serafina's (Léa Garcia) cousin named Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) has been visiting. Death is after Eurydice.

The story unfolds around the preparation and the celebration of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro until Orpheus unknowingly kills her by turning on the lights. He continues to seek her at the Bureau of Missing Persons where a janitor takes pity on him and leads him to the basement where a Candomble ceremony is taking place.

At the gate, there is a dog named Cerberus, after the three-headed dog of Hades in Greek mythology. At this ritual, Orpheus is able to channel the spirit of Eurydice through the body of an old woman. Orpheus calls out to her and asks to see her, but Eurydice begs him not to look toward the voice, lest he lose her forever. When he looks back to see Eurydice, her spirit leaves the woman and he loses her forever (This is in direct correlation to the Greek myth in which Orpheus is able to save his love Eurydice but loses her forever when he looks back at her).

He wanders in mourning for the continuation of the film. The Greek Orpheus also wandered around after Eurydice's death, refusing all other women until he is killed by Thracian women in the heat of Dionysian ritual. Like the Greek Orpheus, this Orpheus is killed by a group of apparently crazed women. As we see Orpheus' and Sarafina's shack burning (Set by Mira no doubt), it is finally Mira's stone that hits him in the head and knocks him over a cliff to his death as he carried Eurydice's limp body.

There are two children, Benedito and Zeca, who seem to follow Orpheus around throughout the plot (especially Benedito) who has the idea that it is Orpheus's guitar that causes the sun to rise in the morning. After Orpheus dies, Zeca is compelled by


Benedito to pick up the guitar and play so that the sun may rise again. Zeca is able to play the guitar and the sun does rise. A little girl comes by, gives Zeca a single flower, and the film ends with the three of them dancing.

The soundtrack sold millions. United States jazz musicians like Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd began to cover Orpheus numbers like "A Felicidade" and "Manha de Carnaval" (Morning of Carnival) with as much enthusiasm as other popular Jobim songs like "Corvacado" and "One Note Samba."


Enjoy bossa nova music in Rio de Janeiro:
  • New Garden,
    Rua Visconde de Pirajá 631, Ipanema, 
  • Vinicius,
    Rua Vinicius de Moraes 39, Ipanema, daily from 2300
  • Bar do Tom,
    Rua Adalberto Ferreira 32, Leblon,  Thursday to Sunday from 2230
  • Esch Café,
    Rua do Rosario 107, Centro, and Rua Dias Ferreira 78, Leblon, hold regular jazz evenings.
To Samba, they added Jazz to create
 "the new beat"

It was the
 "whisper heard around the world."


Bossa-Nova can be translated as "the new beat" or "new wave". Antonio Carlos Jobim is credited as naming the Bossa Nova to describe João Gilberto's new musical style, although a few even give him single-handed credit for creating the rhythm from his earlier collaboration with the multi-talented playright, Vinicius de Moraes, when the two collaborated to create the songs for his musical "Black Orpheus or Orfeo Negro."  João did record the first song, Definado [Out of Tune], written by Jobin in July 1957, which first presented the defining signatures of his guitar with violao gago (stuttering guitar) and canto flado (spoken singing)singing style.

Bossa nova is a refined version of samba, de-emphasizing the percussive aspect of its rhythm and enriching the melodic and harmonic content. Rather than relying on the traditional Afro-Brazilian percussive instruments, João Gilberto often eschewed all accompaniment except his guitar, which he uses as a percussive as well as a harmonic instrument, incorporating what would be the role of the tamborim in a full batucada band. The singing style he developed is almost whispering, economical, and without vibrato. He creates his tempo tensions by singing ahead or behind the guitar.

This bossa nova style created a sensation in the musical circles of Rio's Zona Sul, and many young guitarists sought to imitate it.

Bossa Nova is recognized as one of Brazil's most significant contributions of many to World Music.

Harbinger of the 60's
In 1958,  singer Elizete Cardoso released the album Canção do Amor Demais, marking the beginning of Bossa Nova. This record consists wholly of compositions by the Jobim-Vinicius partnership, or by one of the two (Canção do Amor Demais, Luciana, Estrada Branca, Chega de Saudade, Outra Vez...). The recording also featured a relatively unknown João Gilberto on two tracks.

Shortly after this recording, João Gilberto made his own debut single of "Chega de Saudade", followed by the 1959 LP, Chega de Saudade. The song  turned into a hit, launching Gilberto's career and the bossa nova craze. Besides a number of Jobim compositions, the album featured older sambas and popular songs from the 1940s and '50s, all performed in Gilberto's distinctive style. This album was followed by two more in 1960 and 1961, by which time the singer featured new songs by a younger generation of performer/ composers such as Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal.

The songs of Jobim and Vinicius were recorded by numerous Brazilian singers and performers of that time. Renditions of many Jobim-Vinicius' numbers on João Gilberto's first, second and third albums would firmly establish the sound and the core repertory of the Bossa Nova and would influence a new generation of singers and songwriters, especially in Rio de Janeiro. Antonio Carlos Jobim (and Newton Mendonca) had released the album Desafinado, featuring this new style of samba, incorporating it with jazz stylings, poetic lyrics sung by João Gilberto,

In 2000, the João Gilberto version of the song Chega de Saudade was made a member of the Grammy Hall of Fame. A year later, in 2001, the album  Chega de Saudade, was made an inaugural member of the Latin Grammy Awards Hall of Fame.


Breakthrough Recording
Getz/Gilberto album cover art
Singer Astrud Gilberto was a housewife when she was asked to sing the English lyrics  at the last minute in the New York recording studio.
On March 18, 1963, the studio began its recording of "Getz/Gilberto". Joao Gilberto was resistant, refusing at first to leave his hotel room to go to the studio. The only Brazilian fluent in English present at the session was Gilberto's wife, Astrud. Stan Getz asks her to sing "Corcodavo" and "The Girl From Impanema". She has no training or experience, but Stan likes her voice. "Gilberto and Jobim didn't want Astrud on it.

Astrud had made the trip to New York as the translator for Jobin and her husband Joao. As a non-professional at the time she was never paid anything for this historic recording. Getz had been introduced to the sound by Charlie Byrd and the two had recorded first USA released bossa nova album together, Jazz Samba [1962] which was a big hit supported by the success of the song  “Desafinado”

 This Getz / Gilberto album stayed on the pop charts for 96 weeks. It won the 1964 Grammy Award for Record Of The Year and the album won for Best Jazz Performance and Album of the Year -  a total of four Grammys. In July of 1964, "The Girl From Ipanema" reaches #5 on the Pop charts, and the album "Getz/Gilberto" reaches #2, edged out only by the Beatle's "A Hard Day's Night". It remains the classic Bossa Nova recording in any musicologist's collection.

Astrud Gilberto, who sang on "The Girl from Ipanema" and "Corcovado", on this first of two Getz/Gilberto albums, became an international sensation.

Artist Eccentric  João
João Gilberto lived in the United States from 1962 until 1980, except for two years in Mexico. The year 1976 saw the release of  "The Best of Two Worlds," a reunion with Stan Getz, featuring singer Miúcha, (sister of Chico Buarque), who had become Gilberto's second wife in April 1965. João Gilberto returned to Brazil in 1980. The following year saw the release of Brasil, with guests Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, who in the late 1960s had founded the Tropicalia movement, a fusion of Brazilian popular music with foreign pop.

Caetano Veloso told a French magazine, “To give you an idea, sometimes he decides, just for fun, to imitate people. He imitates the way of walking, the way of talking, of anyone. When he feels like it, he even imitates Fred Astaire”. Caetano’s sister, singing star Maria Bethânia, says João Gilberto “simply is music. He plays. He sings. Without stopping. Day and night. He is very, very strange. But he is the most fascinating being, the most fascinating person, that I have encountered on the surface of the earth. João, he is mystery. He hypnotizes.”

João Gilberto has long had a reputation as being an eccentric perfectionist. He lives in an apartment in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, refusing interviews and avoiding crowds. He has been known to walk out on performances in response to an audience he considers disrespectful, or out of theaters possessing acoustics below his standards, and on several occasions requested that the air conditioning be turned off at concert venues. Yet he continues to perform to sell-out crowds in Brazil as well as in Europe, North America, and Japan.

Bossa Nova: Another sixties seduction

Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the Worldby Ruy Castro:
Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the World

A Capella Press
ISBN: 1556524943

Brazilian author Ruy Castro, in his book Bossa Nova, says that "bossa" was already in use in the fifties by musicians as a word to characterize someone's knack for playing or singing idiosyncratically. He cites a claim that the term "bossa nova" might have first been used in publicity for a concert given by the Grupo Universitário Hebraico do Brasil (University Hebrew Group of Brazil) in 1958 for a group consisting of Sylvinha Telles, Carlinhos Lyra, Nara Leão, Luizinho Eça, Roberto Menescal, et al.
Since being published in Portuguese in 1990 , the book has remained the definitive story of Bossa Nova and much enlivened author Ruy Castro's reputation as one great Carioca story teller.

Part of Brazilian Jazz
Bossa Nova music has been stirring of late after a long period of being largely defined by its standards. Always an important part of the larger category of Brazilian Jazz, its period as a  mainstream  movement is considered short -  from 1958 to 1963. The musical style shares its roots with samba, Rio and the sixties. It favors the guitar over percussion and is more complex harmonically. The initial excitement of releases by Gilberto and the 1959 film Black Orpheus, followed by the unsurpassed first Bossa Nova single,  The Getz/Gilberto recording "The Girl From Ipanema", edited to include only the singing of Astrud Gilberto (Gilberto's then-wife) has made the music timeless and able to withstand substantial "watering down" by popular artists in the decades that have followed.

From the mid-nineties, various other European artists reached out to Bossa Nova for inspiration, mixing electronic music into it and bringing new creations sometimes referred to as Bossa Electrica, TecnoBossa, etc. which still permeates the air of lounge bars of Europe and Asia today. From this newer crop of artists came new singers like Bebel Gilberto, daughter of Bossa Nova co-creator João Gilberto and singer Miúcha, and new European bands like Nouvelle Vague to name a few, who used both conventional Bossa Nova style and modern views to further interpret this fabulously soothing style of music

The phrase "Bossa Nova"
In Brazil, to do something with "Bossa" is to do it with particular charm and natural flair, as in an innate ability. "Bossa" was used to refer to any new "trend" or "fashionable wave" within the artistic beach-culture of Ipanema. Tom Jobim  (January 25, 1927 in Rio de Janeiro – December 8, 1994 in New York City) remained a productive musician all his life. Rio's international airport is now known as Galeão - Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport. Jobim is acknowledged as one of the most influential popular composers of the 20th century.
2008- the 50th Anniversary
A March 3, 2008 50th anniversary free concert on Ipanema beach featured veteran performers  veterans like Roberto Menescal, Carlos Lyra and Oscar Castro-Neves, as well as contemporary artists like Bossacucanova, a group that mixes bossa nova with electronica. Solange Kafuri, an organizer of the show, said, “Bossa nova has its eternal audience, and there is also a new one.”
Astrud Gilberto

The Silver Collection: The Astrud Gilberto Album

Astrud Gilberto was born Astrud Weinert, the daughter of a Brazilian mother and a German father, in the state of Bahia, Brazil, and was raised in Rio de Janeiro. In 1959, she married João Gilberto, and later emigrated to the U.S. in 1963, when she sang on this album. Unfortunately, Stan Getz' affair with Astrud Gilberto brought an end to his musical partnership with her and her husband. João Gilberto and Astrud  divorced in the mid-sixties.

Astrud began her singing career as a singer of bossa nova and American jazz standards, but recorded her own compositions in the 1970s. Her repertoire includes The Shadow of your Smile, It Might As Well Be Spring, Love Story, Fly Me To The Moon, Day By Day, Here's That Rainy Day, and Look To The Rainbow. She has recorded songs in Brazilian Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and Japanese.

According to a 1996 United Kingdom Channel 4 production “Without Walls: The Girl from Ipanema” that recording is the fifth most played record in the history of the world. 

Fly me to the moon
And let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and Mars
In other words hold my hand
In other words darling kiss me

Fill my life with song
And let me sing forevermore
You are all I hope for
All I worship and adore
In other words please be true
In other words I love you

by Astrud Gilberto & Bart Howard
On May 5, 1961, Alan Sheppard became the first American in space, and by the conclusion of the decade we had a man on the moon.  Many consider this the greatest milestone in their time.  


A remarkable achievement for an amazing decade which continues to resonate particularly through the music. It was also Brazil's most productive and fervent decade for music as well. Like the timeless myth of Orpheus & Euridice, this music and its stories are continuing to become more timeless.
Ipanema & the 60's

The Bossa Nova craze in the USA was eventually eclipsed by the Beatles, and other rock anthems which still reverberate today as we cross into the Age of Aquarius -  first brought to popular consciousness during the 60's.  The musical careers of the originators are among the most acclaimed of musicians, as many have seen their songs become classics and living standards that are restated by each new generation who play music. How much was the zeitgeist or spirit of the times, no one can say. The parallel between the stirring of cultural and musical revolutions of Rio Sul and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury/ Summer of Love 1967 have seldom been made, as the concept of a global mind shift has only of late reentered the conscious conversation as the planet teeters on the brink of great and unknowable devastation. Still, the artistic stew of Ipanema in the late 50's and early 60's deserves a greater exploration for its international relevance.

In the late 60's "Tropicalismo"  music embodied bossa nova as well an ability to combine foreign pop music with Brazilian music.  This  Brazilian music with a world sensibility arose in the late 1960s from a melange of bossa nova, rock and roll, Bahia folk music, African music and Portuguese fado. Tropicalism has parallels to today's multiculturalism, World Music and forging a new global society based on peace and mutual respect.

The smooth guitar jazz samba has continued to survive and never stopped thriving in the Zona Sul of Rio de Janeiro and  among versatile jazz musicians everywhere.

The large Brazilian immigrant populations in New York City, Miami,  Los Angeles and London support much Brazilian music, but no where is there a higher percentage of local support than the spiritual home of the 60's, the San Francisco Bay Area
SF Bay Area Bossa Nova for Brazil
Less bossa nova than modern jazz, but the great Flora Purim has to be included in any  overview of jazz from Brazi, along with husband Airto Moreira
Singer Claudia Villela A Carioca who now lives in SF Bay Area
Best bet is
Or our guide to Brazil on the SF Bay

1 We were unable to verify this claim which would certainly be affected by how many countries recording were counted. The Girl from Ipanema does appear on in the Top 21 on a list for USA song recordings.
The Google search does show a growing claim that the #1 song; Paul McCarthy's "Yesterday" is claimed to be remarkably similar to a
Neapolitan folk song. [Not the first time -  "It's Now Or Never" by Elvis Presley clearly began as "O Solo Mio,"  also aSamba Bossa Nova Neapolitan folk tune]  While touring in Paris, McCartney claims he tumbled out of bed and the tune was in his head. He thought he had heard it somewhere before, and played the melody to different people in the music industry to make sure he wasn't stealing it.

Without attempting to referee the early rounds of the above unfolding story affecting the standing of the Girl from Ipanema as the #1 song in the world, we would like to mention several other French - Italian -Brazilian  extraordinary coincidence we are fond of following that we uncovered while preparing these pages in 2008. Besides the above minor one, we found in researching the history of the Bikini, [which is also the history of our relationship to the body intertwined with the history of the Church and its ability to enforce modesty by linking the passions it stirs to sin] these 3 cultures making prominent contributions. The key spots for this story is the Neapolitan Bay of Naples area with the remarkably preserved resort community Pompeii as its star; from there we move up a short distance to the Canne area of France where most of the first chapters in the evolution of scantily clad bathing beauties was written with the bikini, which got a big boost in the 40's & 50's from France and the 60's and 80's from Rio de Janeiro (but was first recorded shown in the Roman baths of Italy). The greatest Carnaval film ever made, the classic "Black Orpheus",  was a the French, Italian, Brazilian collaboration. In 2008 Carla Bruni became the 1st Lady of France; she is an Italian by birth and her blood father is a Brazilian. The 2008 Carnival City Congress is being held for the first time in France.  In 2009, the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval will have a special focus on France.


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