Gilberto, João (1932–)

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Gilberto, João (1932–)

João Gilberto (b. 1932), Brazilian singer and guitarist. Along with Antônio Carlos Jobim, Vinícius de Moraes, and Carlos Lyra, João Gilberto launched the bossa-nova musical movement in Brazil in the late 1950s. Born in Joazeiro, a small town in the interior of Bahia State, Gilberto moved in 1949 to Rio de Janeiro, where he performed initially with vocal groups such as Garotos da Lua. Gilberto's highly syncopated style of playing the acoustic guitar, which distilled complex samba rhythms into a simplified form while utilizing harmonically progressive chords, provided the basic beat of the emerging bossa-nova style. Meanwhile, he also mastered a low-key, precise, subtle, and highly rhythmic vocal style that would also mark the genre.

Gilberto's guitar playing was first heard on Elizeth Cardoso's 1958 album "Canção do amor demais"; his debut as a recording artist came later that year, when Odeon released his singles "Chega de saudade" and "Desafinado" (each cowritten by Antônio Carlos Jobim). In 1959, Gilberto launched his debut album, "Chega de saudade," considered the first bossa-nova album. He recorded several more bossa LPs in the next few years in Brazil and the United States, including the highly successful album "Getz-Gilberto," with American saxophonist Stan Getz in 1964. On it, João's then-wife Astrud dueted with him on "The Girl from Ipanema," one of the world's best-known songs of the late twentieth century.

Gilberto had a profound influence on the next generation of Brazilian musicians, but from the late 1960s on João has led a reclusive life, with only sporadic concert appearances and record releases. He recorded only a handful of records in the 1970s and 1980s, among them: "Brasil" (1981), "João Gilberto Interpreta Tom Jobim" (1985), "João Gilberto: Live in Montreux" (1987), and "João" (1991). His 1999 release, "João Voz e Violão" was produced by Caetano Veloso, but it did not receive critical acclaim. In 2000, his daughter, Bebel Gilberto, released her own album, "Tanto Tempo," which was nominated for two Latin Grammy awards. As of 2007, he lived a reclusive life in his Rio de Janeiro neighborhood, avoiding crowds when not performing.

See alsoBossa Nova; Jobim, Antônio Carlos "Tom"; Music: Popular Music and Dance; Samba.


José Eduardo Homem De Mello, Música popular brasileira (1976).

Augusto De Campos, Balanço da bossa e outras bossas (1978).

Ruy Castro, Chega de saudade (1991).

Chris Mc Gowan and Ricardo Pessanha, The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova, and the Popular Music of Brazil (1991).

Additional Bibliography

Garcia, Walter. Bim bom: A contradiçao sem conflitos de João Gilberto. São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 1999.

Mello, Zuza Homem de. João Gilberto. São Paulo: Publifolha, 2001.

                                        Chris McGowan

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Gilberto, João (1932–)

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