Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bossa Not So Nova...or Maybe Not?

Here's a picture of a mousepad I got from my sister-in-law in São Paulo. She went to see the exhibition on the fiftieth anniversary of bossa nova. There's another one in Rio at the moment, and a new feature film called "Desafinados," and reissues of classic records, and shows everywhere. The celebrations have reached an Olympic (I mean the mountain, not the games) kind of height with three shows by an elderly, grumpy João Gilberto. I wasn't about to go fight for tickets to see an artist that should have (and did, sort of) retired a long time ago. So, what I'm telling you here is second- or third-hand information gleaned from newspaper columnists and disgruntled concertgoers. He was systematically late (not ten minutes kind of late, but hours) and not exactly in the best of moods to play and sing for fans who paid a not-insignificant percentage of their monthly income for the experience. I heard that in New York City he wasn't even a wee bit late and that tickets cost much less, which means exactly what? When in the U.S. do as Americans do or that Brazilian don't deserve anything better? I honestly think that he should have stayed home playing for himself and his little daughter and fans should have spent the money to buy some of his classic recordings. You get the artist in top form without having to put up with the man, who, by all accounts, wasn't the easiest human being even in his twenties and thirties. These days, if I want to go out of my apartment to hear the smooth sounds and delicate swing of bossa nova (with or without a pinch of electronica), I choose Celso Fonseca, Chris Delano, Leo Gandelman, or BossaCucaNova (their new CD will be out this month). These artists, plus Lisa Ono in Japan, have kept the flame alive and their sounds are as fresh as the French bread I get twice a day from the bakery across the street. Even if it's 50 years later.

I was talking to Carlos Alberto, owner of Toca do Vinícius in Ipanema on Sunday and he promised me a list of his all-time favorite bossa nova records. While we wait, I decided to post a few of mine:

1 - "Chega de Saudade," João Gilberto
2 - "Getz/Gilberto," Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Tom Jobim
3 - "The Legendary João Gilberto"
4 - "Isso É Bossa Nova," Leila Pinheiro
5 - "Garota de Ipanema," Nara Leão and Roberto Menescal, recorded in Japan

You can also look for CDs by Tamba Trio, and the recent releases with the music of Moacir Santos. Leave comments with your own favorites, please!


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