Father of Brazil's Bossa Nova
Over 400 songs enriched world's jazz idiom
While Brazil has enjoyed its share of huge international pop music festivals, the country, without question, is most remembered as the source of Bossa Nova, the smooth, sensuous distillation of the samba, wrought by the composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim with his international mega-hit, "The Girl from Ipanema," written with Vinicius De Moraes, English lyric by Norman Gimbel.
The song became the catalyst for a whole new movement of Brazilian-inspired music. In the United States, the music was closely associated with jazz, especially after Stan Getz recorded this song with Brazilian Astrud Gilberto. It would be accurate to suggest that Jobim, with his wonderfully catchy and romantic music, helped turn the cultural spotlight on Brazil during the 50's and 60's when the bossa nova "craze" first took hold, only to go on to become established as a permanent part of the American musical landscape. It has inspired and influenced several generations of performers, ranging from Sinatra to Sting, and beyond. Sinatra, in fact, was once quoted to the effect that "working with my good friend, Jobim, was an absolute joy. We were raised in different countries, but we share the same deep love and respect for great talent ... musicians, lyricists, composers and fellow singers."
To many of his friends, both here and in his native Brazil, Jobim is known affectionately as Tom. He was born in Rio de Janeiro to cultured, educated parents. His father, Jorge, was a diplomat and a professor, and his mother, Nilza Brasileirc, de Almeida, founded and operated a primary school, which both Jobim and his sister, Helena, attended.
As a child, Tom was first exposed to music by his two guitar-playing uncles. At 14, he began studying music seriously and for a number of years, he continued working in theory and composition, even though at one point he had given thought to becoming an architect. He was, nevertheless, strongly influenced by the big band sounds from America of Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman and other stars of American Swing. These bands, of course, were still highly popular in the late 40's, when the young Jobim was beginning to hone his musical skills. Exposed to much of 40's and 50's style jazz by haunting Rio's night club scene, he was writing his own music in the early 50's, his output including symphonies as well as songs. in 1958, he enjoyed his first major triumph in his score for the Academy Award winning film, "Black Orpheus." By the end of that decade, Jobim had created his own ' signature sound, that of the Bossa Nova, which ultimately brought into being such renowned international song hits as "Desafinado," "Meditation," "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars," "One Note Samba," "The Dreamer," "Once I Lived," "Song of the Jet" and "Felicidade" (from the "Black Orpheus" score).
Jobim credits Joao Gilberto (who was then the husband of Astrud Gilberto) with making his own significant contributions to the developing art form of Bossa Nova. A guitarist, Gilberto actually collaborated on some of the major songs from Jobim's output. He also credits the American tenor saxophonist, Stan Getz, with his own special contribution to the music. In fact, the album which Jobim and Getz recorded together continues to enjoy considerable popularity even today.