Joćo Gilberto: Chega de Saudade

It seemed the whole nation of Brazil got involved in celebrating the recent 50th anniversary of bossa nova. And much of the rest of the world joined in on the festivities. It's a shame that no one thought to make the music available on CD. Some bureaucratic-legal black hole keeps the landmark 1958-1961 Joćo Gilberto tracks—which literally represent the birth of the bossa nova—off the market. But I was fortune to secure a copy before the music gestapo showed up to stop the fun.

If you ever find a CD of the early Joćo Gilberto recordings, grab it. I love this music passionately, even given all the unnecessary accompaniment that Jobim brought along to "package" his phenomenal find. No one—I repeat no one—has ever sung with more a relaxed, conversational style. Miles Davis (who rarely paid idle compliments) said it best: Joćo "would sound good reading a phone book." Gilberto's guitar beat has proven to be as influential as his vocal style, and harder to imitate than you might guess from listening to its carefree pulse. The cool aesthetic in music may have been invented in the U.S., but Jobim and Gilberto brought a new twist on it that taught the Yankees a thing or two. Four years would elapse before the U.S. market discovered this sound, but when they found it, they didn't need to know a word of Portuguese to realize that something special had been hatching down in Rio.

May 12, 2009 · 0 comments


Milton Nascimento: Chega de Saudade

Most casual fans will find nothing surprising in Milton Nascimento releasing a bossa nova CD, and covering the classic Jobim tune "Chega de Saudade." Yet those with longer memories will recall that Nascimento did more than any musician to topple the supremacy of bossa nova in Brazilian music. Nascimento's rhythmic sensibility, with its hypnotic even eights (which Pat Metheny and others would eventually incorporate into jazz settings), instilled a far more Africanized sensibility into Brazilian music than anything found in the Jobim songbook. Early in Nascimento's career, even when this artist performed bossa nova songs, listeners were struck by how different they sounded in his interpretations.

But all things mellow with age, and now Nascimento not only records "Chega de Saudade" but delivers it with genuine bossa nova feeling. And he brings Jobim's son and grandson in on the festivities. Don't expect any musical revolutions here, just a bittersweet, relaxed tribute to a classic song, a brilliant composer and a timeless style of music. This track, and most of the other performances on the Novas Bossas CD, will stand out as outliers on the bell curve of Milton's music, but fans of Brazilian music will enjoy this release and want to add it to their collection.

October 29, 2008 · 0 comments


Antonio Carlos Jobim: Chega de Saudade

This melody swings through a series of upward shifts, conveying optimism and hope. In the original lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, Jobim’s poet partner, the singer has had enough of “saudade” (sa-oo-DA-dgee), that idiomatic mix of emptiness and longing that roughly equates to “the blues” in English. This was the first Jobim tune that Joćo Gilberto ever recorded, and the title of his 1959 debut album; for many, “Chega de Saudade” marks the true beginning of bossa nova. This instrumental version features Claus Ogerman’s string arrangements; never soppy or overbearing, they provide a lush cushion for Jobim’s one-finger piano.

October 30, 2007 · 0 comments


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