Jobim, Antonio Carlos

views updated May 29 2018

Antonio Carlos Jobim

Jazz guitarist

For the Record

The Bossa Nova Wave

Jobim Records a Solo Album

Jobims Orchestral Maneuver

Selected discography


In the early sixties a new, sophisticated music redolent of quiet nights and quiet stars, tropical breezes, beautiful women on white sandy beaches, and clear waters reflecting blue skies came upon the scene. The sound was recognizably Latin, a kind of slowed down samba, quieter, more sensual, and it had a name: Bossa Nova.

Soon, the sound would be known worldwide. Its success in the United States was kicked off with the classic Getz Gilber to recordings of 1963, featuring the American jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and the Brazilian guitarist Joâo Gilberto. The album featured Gilbertos wife at the time, Astrud, who sang a song which was to become associated in the popular mind, with the music as a whole, The Girl From lpanema. And forever the name of Antonio Carlos Jobim, known to his Brazilian fans as Tom Jobim, is linked with Brazils most successful cultural export.

Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim was born in 1927 in the Tijuca section of Rio de Janeiro. His family moved to the Ipanema district, one of the new boroughs in expanding Rio. Jobim grew up surrounded by lush forests which stretched down to the warm waters of the Atlantic. I believe I learned my songs from the birds of the Brazilian forest, he once said.

Jobim was a beach boy in the 1930s. His father, a diplomat and poet, died when Jobim was eight. His family ran a private school, the Brasiliero de Almeida, and it was that Jobim first encountered the piano. His step-father oversaw Jobims musical education and he began study with Hans Joachim Koellreutter at the age of fourteen. Soon Jobim added guitar and harmonica to the list of instruments he had mastered.

Jobim grew up listening to samba and other native sounds which he heard in the streets and clubs of Ipanema. Samba was a style of music originating in the Afro-Brazilian favelas, or shanty towns, of Rio and other cities. In the thirties, radio play and records made this music became popular among all classes. Sambistas, aficionados of the music, would follow their favorite bands from bar to bar, until the sun came up. Later Jobim would come under the influence of the French Impressionists, Debussey and Ravel, as well as the cool jazz of American artists like Miles Davis and Gil Evans. These influences would cometogether in Jobims own compositions.

While continuing to play music, Jobim enrolled in an architecture program but quit after one year to work full-time as a musician. First he played piano in little bars called inferminhos, little hells. The opportunity arose for Jobim to work as a copyist for radio and recording studios. In 1952 Jobim was hired by the Continental

For the Record

Born Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, January 25, 1927, in the Tijuca section of Rio de Janeiro; died December 8, 1994.

Released first solo record, The Composer of the Desafinado Plays, in 1963. Master of numerous instruments, including guitar, harmonica, and piano.

recording company to assist Maestro Radamés Gnatali, the most important arranger of the time. Soon Jobim was arranging and producing for Odeon, one of Brazils largest record companies.

Jobim might have continued as a well-respect arranger-producer, unknown outside his native country, had he not met Vincius de Moraes, the Oxford educated poet and diplomat, in 1956.

Moraes had adapted the Orpheus legend, transposing the story to the favelas of contemporary Brazil. Jobim was asked to write the music. This collaboration resulted in an acclaimed stage production, Orfeu da Conceiçâo, performed at the Metropolitan Opera House in Rio. The play was later translated to the screen by the French director Marcel Camus. Black Orpheus was the prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959 and enjoyed worldwide success. The soundtrack, in particular Feli-cidadeOrpheusstheme song, introduced the world to the new samba-inflected music coming out of Brazil.

The Bossa Nova Wave

Bossa Nova, or New Beat, was the new wave in Brazilian music. Derived from samba, it had a cooler, more sophisticated sound, while still relying on the carni-valesque rhythms of its predecessor. Its practitioners were mainly middle-class, educated Euro-Brazilian males with an appreciation of Afro-Brazilian culture. Bossa Nova songs where characterized by their softness. The lyrics were simple, poetic, heartfelt, expressing a love for beautiful women, sun and sea. While Jobim was not the originator of this new soundhe credited Joâo Gilberto with that distinctionhe soon distinguished himself as its most sophisticated practitioner. He benefited immensely from his collaborations with singers and fellow songwriters such as de Moraes, Mendonca, and de Oliveira. By the time Bossa Nova hit U.S. shores, Jobim and Bossa Nova were considered one and the same.

Jobim began writing songs with Newton Mendonça, a childhood friend and nightclub pianist. Together they penned the Bossa Nova classics Samba de Urna Nota So, Meditaçao, and Desafinado. His collaboration with Aloysio de Oliveira, a producer for the Odeon label, produced the classic Dindi. In 1958 Jobim met the singer-guitarist Joâo Gilberto. Overthe next three years they collaborated on three albums together on which Gilberto recorded 13 Jobim originals. Gilbertos beautiful voice and relaxed guitar playing were perfectly suited for Jobims compositions. This collaboration yielded the haunting Chega de SaudadeNo More Blues, and consolidated the Bossa Nova style.

In 1962 the American Jazz musicians Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd released an LP called Jazz Samba. It was the first introduction of the new Brazilian sound to U.S. audiences. While this record yielded a hit version of Desafinado, the major breakthrough was to come later. After Jazz Samba, Getz went back in the studio, this time with Jobimand Gilberto. Getzversion of the Jobim Moraes penned The Girl from Ipanema, sung by Gilberto and his then-wife Astrud, was a huge success and kicked off a stateside Bossa Nova craze. Jobim soon found himself one of the most recorded composers as a multitude of performers, from jazz to pop, covered his songs. The culmination of musics popularity is, perhaps, the album Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim, two sides devoted to the music of Jobim featuring Jobim on piano and accompanying vocals.

As the sixties waned and rock music was ascendant, the cool sounds of Bossa Nova were less frequently heard, with the exception of the Bossa Nova-esque pop covers of Sergio Mendes and Brazil66.

Jobim Records a Solo Album

Jobim himself an arranger for much of his career, benefited from his collaboration with the arranger Claus Ogerman which began with Jobims first solo record, in 1963, The Composer of the Desafinado Plays, on Verve, and continued off and on into the 1970s. This album wasfollowed by The Wonderful World of Antonio Carlos Jobim, arranged by Nelson Riddle. Jobim returned to Ogerman for the Sinatra sessions, and the follow-up, A Certain Mr. Jobim.

Part of the success of Jobim in the States has to be attributed to his able translators, Gene Lees foremost among them. Lyrics in English have always been a prerequisite for success in America and Jobim was very particular about the translations. Many of Jobims songs were translated by himself after he learned English. Still, the majority of Jobims songs remain untranslated. Ogerman has remarked on the relative dearth of Jobim songs in English. If somebody brought him a lyric, he usually didnt approve of it. What was missing in his North American career was a steady collaborator, like an Ira Gershwin. That makes life easy.

While Jobim enjoyed wide success in the U.S., Bossa Nova was met with resistance back home. Popularity abroad had generated a backlash, especially by purists who thought the music too American. While there is undoubtedly some jazz influence, Jobim maintained that Bossa Nova was a part of Samba, not jazz. Jobim albums with overt jazz influences did not come until later. The trilogy, Wave, Tide, and Stone Floweron A &M were recorded by Rudy Van Gelder, the preeminent jazz engineer responsible for much of John Coltranes recordings. But, as Bob Blumenthal has pointed out in his liner notes to Urubu, another Ogerman collaboration, They form a distinct interlude in Jobims discography.

Jobims Orchestral Maneuver

Later albums such as Jobim, 1972, and Urubu, 1975, show Jobim moving away from the cool, Bossa Nova style and his compositions became more orchestral. These albums reflect his interest not only in native Brazilian music, but jazz as well. Compositions such as Saudade Do Brasil, Valse, and Arquitetura De Morar, show the influence of Debussey as well as Jobims countryman Heitor Villa-Lobos. These later albums also show Jobims increased awareness of political issues, in particular environmental concerns.

Jobim and some other leading Brazilian musicians encountered difficulties with the military regime which came into power in the late sixties. Jobim, along with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Vincius de Moraes, and Carlos Lyra were detained by the authorities in 1970 and Jobims songs were scrutinized for subversive lyrics. By the late 1970s, Jobims contribution to popular music was undisputed. Terra Brasilis was released in 1980, a summing up of the composers more popular work, produced once again by Claus Ogerman. Jobim continued to work with popular Brazilian rhythms as well as classical. A renewed interest in the sophisticated pop of the 1960s brought Jobim to the attention of a new generation in the early 1990s and Jobim was honored by the Mangueira Samba School in the 1992 Carnaval parade in Rio. Jobim died December 8, 1994, leaving a recognizable void in the world of Bossa Nova..

Selected discography

Orfeu da Conceiçâo, EMI-Odeon, 1956.

The Composer of the Desafinad. Plays, Verve, 1963.

The Wonderful World of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Warner Bros., 1964.

A Certain Mr. Jobim, Warner Bros., 1965.

(With Dori Caymmi) Caymmi Visita Tom, Elenco 1965.

The Astrud Gilberto Album, Elenco, 1965.

Wave, A&M, 1967.

Stone Flower, CTI, 1970.

Tide, A&M, 1970.

Constuçâo, Philips, 1971.

O Som Do Pasquim, Pasquim, 1972.

Matita Perê, MCA, 1973.

Elis & Tom, Philips, 1974.

Urubu, Warner Bros., 1976.

MiuchaeA.C. Jobim, RCA, 1977.

Miucha e Tom Jobim, RCA, 1979.

Chico, Philips, 1980.

Terra Brasilis, Warner Bros., 1980.

A.C. Jobim-Homem Aquarius, Philips, 1981.

Brilhante, Som Livre, 1981.

Edue Tom, Philips, 1981.

Chico Buarque en Espanol, Philips, 1982.

Gabriela, RCA, 1983.

O Corsario Do Rei, Som Livre, 1983.

Musica em Pessoa, Som Livre, 1985.

O Tempo e O Vento, Som Livre, 1985.

Anos Dourados, Som Livre, 1986.

Estrela da Vida Inteira, Continental, 1986.

A.C. Jobim, Sabía, 1987.

Passarim, Verve, 1987.

Rio Revisited, Verve, 1987.

Cais, Som Livre, 1989.

Joàode Vale, CBS, 1991.

O Dono do Mundo, Som Livre, 1991.

Gal Costa, RCA, 1992.

Carnegie Hall Salutes the Jazz Masters, Verve, 1993.

Fedra Bonita, Nana, 1993.

Antonio Brasileiro, Columbia, 1994.

A.C. Jobim Apresenta, Mercury, 1995.



Village Voice, April 2, 1996, p. 49.



Liner notes

Antonio Carlos Jobim: Compose. (Warner Archives), by Bob Blumenthal.

Terra Brasilis. (Warner Archives), by Bob Blumenthal.

Urubu (Warner Archives), by Bob Blumenthal

The Antonio Carlos Jobim Songboo. (Verve), by Zeca Legiéra.

Jobim, Antonio Carlos "Tom": 1927-1994: Musician

views updated May 11 2018

Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim: 1927-1994: Musician

Antonio Jobim was a writer, composer, and arranger whose music spurred a revolution in sound in the late 1950s, both in South America and around the world. Although he modestly credited João Gilberto with creating the bossa nova (new wave), Jobim became its most innovative practitioner, writing nearly 400 compositions. Mark Holston of Americas wrote of Jobim, "As his country's most prolific and successful composer [and] architect of the bossa nova he had become the personification of modern Brazilian musical expression." The bossa nova craze flourished in the United States during the early 1960s, following the release of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd's Jazz Samba and the chart success of songs like "The Girl from Ipanema." "Before his fortieth birthday," wrote Holston, "Jobim had almost single-handedly directed a revolution in popular culture that rippled through the world."

Developed Early Musical Talent

Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1927, and grew up in its Ipanema district. As a boy, he played in the lush forests near his home and developed a deep love of nature. The forests and the seaside would later be reflected in the lyrics of the songs he wrote. His father, Jorge Jobim, was a diplomat and professor; his mother, Nilza Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, operated a local primary school. When Jobim was seven, his father left the family and died the following year.

Jobim showed a capacity for music at an early age. He enjoyed listening to his uncle, João Lyra Madeira, play Bach and Villa-Lobos on the guitar, and his mother, noting his interest, rented a piano and hired the German composer Hans Joachim Koellreutter to give her son lessons. Jobim later learned to play the harmonica and guitar, and was influenced by an eclectic variety of musical styles. He listened to samba, a rhythmic music that was popular in Ipanema night clubs, as well as classical composers like Debussy and Ravel, and later fell under the spell of Miles Davis and Gil Evans.

Jobim enrolled in architecture school but dropped out after a year. He worked briefly for an architect in the 1940s, but decided on a career in music after hearing Duke Ellington and other American jazz artists perform in the casinos of Rio de Janeiro. In the late 1940s he worked full time as a musician, playing piano in bars and developing his style. He was hired by the Continental recording company in 1952 and worked with Maestro Radames Gnatali, one of the noted arrangers of his time. During the 1950s Jobim also arranged for Odeon, a leading recording company in Brazil, and his career path seemed settled. A fortuitous meeting with diplomat and poet Vinícius de Moraes in 1956, however, opened up a new vista for Jobim. de Moraes asked Jobim and Luis Bonfa to write a score for his play, Black Orpheus, which was set during Rio's Mardi Gras and was based on the Orpheus legend. When Marcel Camus's film version of the play became an international success in 1959 and won an Academy Award for best foreign film, Jobim and Bonfa's soundtrack introduced Brazilian music to the world.

At a Glance . . .

Born Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim on January 25, 1927, in Rio de Janeiro; died on December 8, 1994; son of Jorge Jobim and Nilza Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim; married Ana Lontra (second marriage); children: Elizabeth and Paulo (first marriage), Joao Francisco (second marriage).

Career: Performed in night clubs in Rio de Janeiro, late 1940s; hired by Continental recording company, 1952; collaborated with Luis Bonfa on score for Black Orpheus, 1957; formed a musical partnership with João Gilberto, late 1950s; performed at Carnegie Hall, 1962; recorded first solo album, The Composer of the Desafinado Plays, 1963; worked with Gilberto and Stan Getz on Getz/Gilberto, 1964; recorded Wave, 1967, Stone Flower, 1970, and Urubu, 1975; wrote music for four movies, 1970s and 1980s; performed at Carnegie Hall, 1985; released Antonio Brasileiro, 1994.

Awards: Grammy Award, 2001; Latin Hall of Fame.

Bossa Nova Became U.S. Sensation

During this same period, Jobim began working on a series of albums with João Gilberto that would transform the music scene in South America and abroad. When their first single, "Chega de Saudade," became a hit, Odeon asked Gilberto to record an album. Eventually the two musicians recorded three albums featuring Jobim's arrangements and a number of his songs. Jobim and Gilberto added cool tones to the samba, downplaying the melody while retaining the steady rhythmic underpinning. The lyrics were simple and romantic, continually returning to images of the sun and the seaside. "We can eavesdrop on the exact beginning of the bossa nova movement with the 1958 single containing Jobim's 'Chega de Saudade' and Giberto's 'Bim Bom,'" wrote Richard S. Ginell in All Music Guide. "One can easily see why this quietly revolutionary record hit the Brazilian music scene like a silent cruise missile."

Brazilian music spread to the United States when Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd released Jazz Samba in 1962, and the bossa nova became a sensation the following year when Getz returned to the studio with Gilberto and Jobim. At the last moment, it was decided that Gilberto's wife, Astrud, would sing the vocal on the song "The Girl from Ipanema." The song became a huge hit, leading to the widespread popularity of bossa nova in the United States. "When the bossa nova seemed in danger of being written off as a fad," noted Ginell of Getz/Gilberto, "this classic album came out and made bossa nova a permanent part of music." "The Girl from Ipanema" would win a Grammy, sell more than a million copies, and reach number five on Billboard.

On November 21, 1962, Jobim, Gilberto, and other musicians performed at Carnegie Hall in a concert organized by the Brazilian Foreign Services, but many Brazilians criticized the performers for singing in English. The popularity of bossa nova in the United States had the unexpected result of offending many fans in Brazil who believed that the music had been watered down and commercialized for American consumption. Success in the United States nonetheless guaranteed Jobim an opportunity to record a series of solo albums. During the 1960s he released several albums, including The Composer of the Desafinado Plays and Wave.

Inducted Into Songwriters Hall of Fame

Jobim continued to record during the 1970s, beginning with 1970's well-received Stone Flower and then branching into new territory with 1975's Urubu. "My music never was only bossa nova," Jobim told Enor Paiano in Billboard. "I do samba, choro, baiada but bossa nova was such a strong movement that people consider everything [I do] bossa nova." During the mid-1980s a revival of interest in Brazilian music allowed Jobim to perform a number of high-profile concerts. In March of 1985 he performed at Carnegie Hall and that December he appeared at Avery Fisher Hall in New York and Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. In 1987 he recorded Passarim, an album Ginell called "Jobim's major statement of the '80s."

Jobim received the Diploma of Honor in 1988 and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 1991. In 1989 he moved to Manhattan with his family, seeking to escape the political and economic instability of Brazil. At the time of Jobim's death in 1994, he was working on a multitude of projects, including a collaboration with Ettore Stratta, the conductor of the London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and a film score for director Maria Magalhaes. His last album, Antonia Brasileiro, was released in Brazil a week before his death.

Jobim's hundreds of compositions and innovative arrangements have left their mark on the music community and continue to reverberate strongly on the jazz and world music scenes. "Jobim's reputation as one of the great songwriters of the century is now secure," wrote Ginell, "nowhere more so than on the jazz scene where every other set seems to contain at least one bossa nova."

Selected discography

The Composer of the Desafinado Plays, Verve, 1963.

Wave, A & M, 1967.

Stone Flower, Epic/CTI, 1970.

(With Elis Regina) Elis and Tom, Polygram, 1974.

Urubu, Warner, 1975.

Passarim, Verve, 1987.

Antonio Brasilero, Sonny International, 1994.



Erlewine, Michael, All Music Guide To Jazz, Miller Freeman, 1998, pp. 413, 418, 604, 605.


Americas, March-April 1995, p. 56.

Billboard, December 24, 1994, p. 14.


"Antonio Carlos Jobim," All Music Guide, (January 3, 2003).

"Antonio Carlos Jobim," Biography Resource Center, (January 3, 2003).

Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

Jobim, Antonio Carlos

views updated May 17 2018

Antonio Carlos Jobim

Brazilian songwriter and vocalist Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927–1994) was one of the creators of the subtle, whispery, jazz-influenced popular song style known as bossa nova. He has been widely acclaimed as one of Brazil's greatest and most innovative musicians of the twentieth century.

Jobim's place in the annals of popular music was secured by a single hit song, "The Girl from Ipanema" (1964), which he co-wrote with lyricist Vinícius de Moraes. His creative contributions to jazz, however, went much deeper; many of his songs became jazz standards, and, in the words of Richard S. Ginell of the All Music Guide, "Every other set" performed in jazz clubs "seems to contain at least one bossa nova." Jobim was sometimes called the George Gershwin of Brazil, not so much because of any musical or lyric similarity—Jobim's songs tended to have oblique, often poetic lyrics quite unlike the clever romantic rhymes of George Gershwin's brother Ira—but because his music became the bedrock for the work of jazz musicians for decades after its creation.

Studied with German Music Teacher

Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, often known by the nickname Tom, was born in Rio de Janeiro on January 25, 1927. He grew up in the seaside southern Rio suburb of Ipanema, later the setting for his most famous song, and many of his compositions reflected Brazil's lush natural world in one way or another. Both of Jobim's parents were educators, and his father, Jorge Jobim, was also active as a diplomat. But Jobim took after an uncle who played classical guitar, and he soon showed unusual talent of his own. Jobim's mother, Nilza, rented a piano for the family home, and when Jobim was 14 he began piano lessons with Hans Joachim Koellrutter, a local music scholar of German background who favored the latest experimental trends in European classical music.

Jobim would later point to the influence exerted by French Impressionist composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel on his own music, but a new set of influences was on its way to Brazil in the form of American jazz. Jobim enrolled in architecture school, lasted less than a year, and worked as an assistant to a local architect in the early 1940s. His real energies were directed toward music, as he gained experience playing piano in small nightclubs known as inferninhos, or little infernos. Visits to Rio by the Duke Ellington Orchestra and other American jazz bands shaped Jobim's own attempts at composition (which he buried in a drawer at first) and inspired him to settle on a musical career. In 1949 he married his first wife, Thereza Hermanny; they raised a son, Paulo, and a daughter, Elisabeth.

With his well-rounded musical education, by the early 1950s Jobim was able to graduate from Rio's bars to staff arranging positions with the Continental and Odeon record labels. At this point Jobim was working in the genre of samba, Brazil's national pop song style, and he sometimes performed his own samba compositions. His real breakthrough came about in 1956, as the result of a chance meeting two years earlier with Brazilian playwright Vinícius de Moraes. Moraes was working on a play called Orfeu da Conceicção, which was later filmed as Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus). The play and film transferred the classic Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to modern-day Rio de Janeiro, and Moraes suggested that Jobim write the music for it.

The film Orfeu Negro became an international success, and Jobim's score, featuring guitarist Luiz Bonfá, kicked off a new musical craze that quickly spread beyond Brazil. It was based in samba rhythms, but it featured subtle harmonic shadings drawn from jazz. The new style was given the name bossa nova, meaning "new wave," and the 1958 single "Chega de Saudade" (No More Blues), with music by Jobim, words by Moraes, and guitar by future Brazilian pop star João Gilberto, was the style's first major hit. Both "Chega de Saudade" and the flip side of the original single, Jobim's composition "Desafinado" (Out of Tune), have remained jazz standards.

Performed in New York

Jobim's star rose quickly in Brazil after the release of "Chega de Saudade." He continued to record with Gilberto, began hosting a weekly television show called O Bom Tom, and wrote music in which he drew on his classical background for the soundtrack to a film called Por Toda a Minha Vida and (with Moraes) Brasîlia, Sinfonia da Alvorada, a four-movement orchestral work with text. By 1962 American jazz musicians had begun to immerse themselves in bossa nova. Jobim sang his "Samba de uma nota só" (One-Note Samba) on an album by Gilberto and jazz flutist Herbie Mann. The bossa nova phenomenon reached the United States as saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd recorded their successful Jazz Samba album, and in November of 1962 Jobim and other Brazilian musicians performed a major bossa nova concert at New York's Carnegie Hall. The show was the idea of a Brazilian diplomat who wanted to promote the country's musical accomplishments abroad.

The concert initially seemed to be a flop. The Brazilian players were thrown off their stride by New York's miserable late fall weather, and critics panned the show. Jobim and his compatriots also took criticism from Brazilian observers who felt they were diluting Brazilian music by singing songs in English—Jobim, who spoke several languages, sometimes translated his own songs from Portuguese into English, while others were translated by jazz writer Gene Lees. Nevertheless, the Carnegie Hall concert succeeded in exposing Jobim to American musicians and music industry figures. Jobim recognized the importance of American exposure in broadening the reach of his music, and he quipped that if he had remained in Brazil, he would still just be drinking beer in Rio's corner bars. In 1963 he made his U.S. recording debut on the Verve label with The Composer of Desafinado Plays. Jobim followed up that release with several more albums in a smooth jazz vein. He collaborated with one of his most influential American admirers on a successful 1966 release, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim, which was seldom if ever out of print during the next four decades. Jobim sang, played piano, and occasionally strummed a guitar on these recordings, often backed by a small orchestra.

In 1962 Jobim composed a song that was soon to become a worldwide phenomenon, and in the process he added a phrase to the international lexicon. "The Girl from Ipanema" (in Portuguese, "Garota de Ipanema") was written as Jobim and Moraes were sitting at a table in a bar in Jobim's hometown of Ipanema and became infatuated with a passer-by, the "tall and tan and young and lovely" woman described in the song. With a vocal by Gilberto's wife, Astrud, and a verse of English lyrics, the song became a number-two hit in the United States in 1964, eclipsed only by the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night." Jobim prospered, although he was never canny about the music publishing deals he signed, and he often failed to receive a proper share of the money his songs earned.

Jobim's total output of albums was not large (he recorded ten solo albums, plus nine more with collaborators), but his music remained consistently successful through much of the 1960s. Nothing else became a hit on the scale of "The Girl from Ipanema," but such songs as "Wave," "Insensatez" (How Insensitive), and "Meditation," with vocals by Jobim himself, Astrud Gilberto, or other singers, became part of the record collections of many sophisticates, and were internalized by jazz musicians as quickly as they appeared. Jobim maintained a strong following in Brazil, thanks to duets recorded with female vocalist Elis Regina, and his 1968 album A Certain Mr. Jobim reached the top 15 on Billboard magazine's jazz sales chart in the United States.

Branched Out Beyond Bossa Nova

Jobim's popularity dipped in the 1970s as bossa nova finally ran out of steam commercially, but he never really slowed down creatively. One of his most widely covered songs of the decade was 1972's "Aguas de Março," which Jobim himself translated into English (with added lyrics) as "Waters of March"; the English version almost completely avoided words with roots in Romance languages (such as Portuguese) in favor of those of Germanic origin. The lyrics consisted of a seemingly disconnected series of images that suggested the impermanence of life. The influential jazz critic Leonard Feather, according to Mark Holston of Americas, placed "Waters of March" "among the top ten songs of all time." Jobim recorded with Brazilian-born arranger Eumir Deodato on his Stone Flower album of 1970, and he also often worked with German-born arranger Claus Ogerman. Jobim's 1975 album Urubu (meaning "The Vulture") reflected his personal fascination with that bird of prey.

In 1976 Jobim met 19-year-old photographer Ana Beatriz Lontra; the pair had a son, João Francisco, in 1979, married in 1986, and had a daughter, Maria Luiza Helena, in 1987. In the late 1970s Jobim was active mostly in film soundtracks, but in 1984 he assembled his Nova Banda or New Band, with his son Paulo on guitar, and began touring once again. His concerts in the United States in the mid-1980s were in venues with the highest profiles: Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York, and Constitution Hall in Washington. His 1987 release Passarim was as well received in the jazz community as any of his 1960s releases had been, and selections from it appeared on several posthumous collections of his work.

Critics by this time recognized Jobim as a living legend, and he received various awards of national and international scope in the last years of his life. These included the Diploma of Honor, the highest arts award given by the Organization of American States, which he received in 1988, and induction into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1991. Jobim never rested on his laurels, and he entered the mid-1990s with a full plate of creative projects. He worked with classical conductor Ettore Stratta in preparing recordings of some of his more classical-oriented works, and he planned to record an album with opera star Kathleen Battle. In 1994 Jobim released a new album, Antonio Brasileiro, and rejoined Frank Sinatra for a track on Sinatra's Duets II release.

With these career capstones in the works, it came as a shock for Jobim's admirers in both the United States and Brazil when Jobim died suddenly of heart failure at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital on December 8, 1994, shortly after entering the facility for treatment of cardiac disease. Jobim's body was returned to Brazil, where a funeral parade held in his honor in Rio de Janeiro lasted for four hours, and he was buried in a tomb near that of Vinícius de Moraes, who had died in 1980. The pair had created two of the icons of twentieth-century culture, Black Orpheus and "The Girl from Ipanema," and the music that came from Jobim's pen lent the music of much of the century's second half a distinct Brazilian tinge.


Castro, Ruy, Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the Word, A Cappella, 2000.

Contemporary Hispanic Biography, Vol. 3, Gale, 2003.


Americas, March-April 1995.

Billboard, December 24, 1994; July 15, 1995.

New York Times, December 9, 1994.

Times (London, England), December 15, 1994.


"Antonio Carlos Jobim," All Music Guide, (November 3, 2006).

"Chronology," Antonio Carlos Jobim Official Website, (November 3, 2006).

"JOBIM—For the Love of …," Jazz Review, (November 2, 2006).

Jobim, Antonio Carlos

views updated Jun 11 2018

Jobim, Antonio Carlos

Jobim, Antonio Carlos, Brazilian composer, guitarist, and pianist; b. Rio De Janeiro, Jan. 25, 1927; d. N.Y., Dec. 8, 1994. Jobim was the primary composer of bossa nova, which enjoyed international popularity in the early 1960s, especially because of his songs, such as “The Girl from Impanema” and “Desafinado.”

Jobim studied piano as a child and eventually became music director of Odeon Records in Brazil. In 1958 he had Joäo Gilberto record his composition “Chega de Saudade,” which he described as bossa nova, a “new wave” of samba music. The record was a hit. In 1959 he scored the French-Brazilian film Black Orpheus. American jazz guitarist Charlie Byrd heard his music on a tour of Brazil in 1961 and adopted the style for his 1962 album with Stan Getz, Jazz Samba, which topped the pop charts in March 1963 and produced a Top 40 single in Jobim’s “Desafinado.” Byrd followed this success with the album Bossa Nova Pelos Passaros (1963) from which Jobim’s “Meditation (Meditacao)” was a chart single; Pat Boone recorded a charting vocal version of the tune.

Stan Getz, meanwhile, utilized bossa nova on the 1964 album Getz/Gilberto, which he recorded with Joäo Gilberto. The album hit the Top Ten and went gold, winning the Grammy for Album of the Year; Jobim’s “The Girl from Ipanema” (Portuguese lyrics by Vinicuis De Moraes, English lyrics by Norman Gimbel), featuring Astrud Gilberto on vocals, became a Top Ten hit.

Jobim moved to L.A. in 1965. That December, Andy Williams reached the charts with his “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” (Portuguese title “Corcovado,” English lyrics by Gene Lees). Jobim collaborated with Frank Sinatra on the album Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967), which spent more than six months on the charts. On Nov. 13, 1967, he appeared with Sinatra on the television special Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music. He composed the music for the 1970 film The Adventurers. In 1971 he was featured on a second Sinatra album, Sinatra & Company. He also made several of his own albums.

Jobim died of heart failure in 1994 at the age of 67.

—William Ruhlmann