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“Voce Vai Ver” by Joao Gilberto

Joao Gilberto

Bossa is often described as music that “fills the heart”.  On Voce Vai Ver, Joao Gilberto is able to undertake this task armed with just his voice and a guitar.  In fact he does so on the entire Voz e Violao album, although this is by no means a surprising feat from an artist with a catalog that’s littered with “classics”.

You don’t need to understand a single word of Portuguese to figure out that this song is about heartbreak.  The pain is apparent in Joao’s tone and expressed in every guitar lick.  The lyrics tell a tale of passion, unrequited love and eventually deep regret: the classic romantic tragedy.

Title: Voce Vai Ver / Artist: Joao Gilberto /Album: Joao Voz e Violao, 2000

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“Tanto Tempo” by Bebel Gilberto

“Tanto Tempo” is about living in the moment without the need to rationalize or question anything.  It’s about recklessly immersing yourself in the “now”, which is the ultimate acknowledgement that it is all there is.

Every day is good day.

Title: Tanto Tempo /Artist: Bebel Gilberto /Album: Tanto Tempo, 2000

“Berekere” by Geraldo Azevedo

Forro is folk Brazilian music that originates from the Northeastern part of the country. It is extremely rhythmic and a permanent fixture at parties. Forró lyrics are usually about love and romance, passion, jealousy, and the longing or homesickness (Saudade) that was often experienced during migrations in search of work by people from that region.

Geraldo Azevedo is considered a pioneer in the genre and has been very popular since the 1970s. I came across “Berekeke” in 2000 while snooping around a friend’s music folders on his computer. I’ve been a fan ever since.
With the acoustic guitar being my favorite instrument, Berekeke really hits home for me. The song involves multiple guitars that interact to create a beautiful “mess” in terms of melodies, while keeping traditional samba rhythms with the percussion.

Title: Berekeke
Artist: Geraldo Azevedo
Album: Berekeke, 1995

“Samba Triste” by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

My love affair with Bossa Nova began with “Samba Triste”.  The original version of this song was composed by Baden Powell, one of Brazil’s great guitarists.  Unfortunately it’s really hard to find originals of Baden’s recordings…trust me I tried.

Renditions of older music often fail to capture the essence of the original.  That being said, Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, two legends in their own right, offer a performance that Powell would, without a doubt be proud of. 

The original Samba triste is driven by an acoustic guitar and vocals.  Getz and Byrd took a different route by incorporating drums and off course Getz’ saxophone to replace Baden’s vocals.  The brushes (drums) add another dimension to the song by providing that Samba swing.  Getz on the saxophone is the highlight of this performance.  His delivery just wraps the song in silk… Smooth doesn’t describe it.

Samba triste is one of those great “escape” songs.  We all go through moments which makes us wish we were “elsewhere”.  Next time you feel like that, just throw on some headphones and play this.

Special thanks to Mr Jean Louis for putting me on this one.

Title: Samba Triste

Artists: Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd

Album: Jazz Samba

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