Brazil’s Bossa Nova, counter culture at its finest

As with all things Brazil, Bossa Nova music is a product of the fusion of sounds and cultures. The characteristically idyllic, sleepy tone of the music is the creation of the union between samba and jazz, sometimes termed as ‘Latin jazz’.

Gaining fame and popularity in the 1950s and 60s, bossa nova remains one of Brazil’s most admired exports. The music tends to paint a picture of perfection that would be intrinsically connected to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and the high easy lifestyle. Equal parts unattainable and indescribable.

Some pioneering works of the genre include Joao Gilberto’s renowned ‘Chega de Saudade’, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim’s wildly popular ‘Garota de Ipanema’ (The Girl from Ipanema) and Dizzy Gillespie’s jazzy trumpet cover of the infamous ‘Más Que Nada’.

Music producer, arranger and all round maestro Quincy Jones composed the song ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ that was a livelier more upbeat take on traditional bossa nova and helped initiate the music into a more mainstream crowd. The tune has been used in multiple movies, TV shows and sampled by other artistes.

Although in modern times bossa nova’s extreme nonchalance has actually been part of its desmise in popular culture. As rock and roll took hold of audiences and the genre’s supporters waned. This does not mean that it still does not hold a special place in the musical history of Brazil. Bossa nova will always be more than ‘elevator music’, it will remain an escape from pain and a hope for a better life.



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