Dig In: Bossa Nova Essentials

The 1960s was a momentous period for jazz, a time when the music would undergo profound stylistic and social changes. And not just in America. As new subgenres like free-jazz, hard-bop, modal jazz and fusion began to flourish stateside, over in Brazil, a group of chic, melody-minded composers led by Antônio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto was engaged in their own musical experiment, fusing the tropically laid-back rhythms of their native samba with the impressionistic harmonies of cool jazz.  They dubbed their new music bossa nova (literally “the new thing”), and in time, it would become one of the most famous artistic exports of Brazil and a full-fledged musical craze in the United States, sweeping artists like Stan Getz, Miles Davis and Charlie Byrd along in its swiftly moving current.

This playlist offers just a sample of all the great music released during bossa’s heyday, including plenty of sun-dappled tracks from its storied creators — Jobim, Gilberto (and his wife, Astrud), Luiz Bonfa, Sergio Mendes and Baden Powell. But we’ve also got music from early bossa adopters in America like Frank Sinatra and Coleman Hawkins. Wherever it comes from, the unifying spirit of bossa nova is still that of saudade, the Portuguese term for the feeling of melancholy and nostalgia that governs much of the music’s lyrical content. (Small wonder that one of bossa nova’s first breakout songs was called “Chega de Saudade,” or “No More Blues.”)

It would be impossible to offer a comprehensive overview of the music in just under 25 tracks. (After all, the music continues to thrive, with contemporary artists who have proudly ushered it into a new era.) Nevertheless, we hope this playlist can at least transport you to a time and place when jazz, in popular culture, spoke with a distinctly Brazilian accent.

Listen on: qobuz

Chega de Saudade
João Gilberto

Agua De Beber
Astrud Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim
The Astrud Gilberto Album

The Girl From Ipanema
Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto

Mais Que Nada
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

Astrud Gilberto

Águas De Março
Elis Regina, Antônio Carlos Jobim
Elis & Tom

Anos Dourados
Chico Buarque
The Essential Chico Buarque

Baubles, Bangles And Beads
Prelude (CTI Records 40th Anniversary Edition)

Corcovado (Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars)
Miles Davis
Quiet Nights

Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

Samba de Orfeu
João Donato
The New Sound of Brazil

A Felicidade
Charlie Byrd
A Felicidade

Antônio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (50th Anniversary Edition)

Manha De Carnival
Bob Brookmeyer
Jazz ‘Round Midnight: Bossa Nova

Gilberto Gil
Gilbertos Samba

Só Danço Samba
Stan Getz, João Gilberto, Antônio Carlos Jobim

Ike Quebec
Bossa Nova Soul Samba (Rudy Van Gelder Edition)

João Gilberto

One Note Samba (Samba De Uma Nota So)
Coleman Hawkins

Lalo’s Bossa Nova
Lalo Schifrin

So Nice (Summer Samba)
Marcos Valle
Samba ’68

Baden Powell
Tristeza on Guitar

Samba Em Preludio – Live
Vinícius de Moraes, Maria Creuza, Toquinho
La Fusa (Live)

O Barquinho
Nara Leão
20 Grandes Sucessos De Nara Leao

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