Carnegie Hall, 1962

When it comes to the birth of a musical genre, it is impossible to establish precise coordinates, such as date and place of birth. When talking about Bossa Nova, however, it is impossible to escape some key events.

I have written about places considered to be the birthplaces of Bossa Nova, and today I would like to celebrate the another landmark: the legendary concert at the Carnegie Hall in November 21, 1962, featuring young Brazilian stars making their US debuts.

Names such as Sérgio Mendes, João Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim were introduced to an audience of three thousand listeners, among them five-stars artists, such as Tony Bennett and Miles Davis.

Despite several last-minute mishaps, including João Gilberto worried about the crease in his pants, and the sound problems that occurred during the concert, that night in 1962 a new musical genre was presented to a large opinion-forming audience and to a great vehicle, the New York Times.

Both, critics and audience, were immediately hooked by the new beat coming from Brazil, but as nothing comes from nothing, it must be said that ears and sensibilities had been prepared for that moment months in advance, by the release in April of Jazz Samba, by Getz and Charlie Byrd. The album introduced Tom Jobim in the single ‘Desafinado’ and it is a landmark in itself: it had more than a million copies sold, and achieved #1 on the chart of Billboard, paving the way for Bossa Nova outsid Brazil.

I recently heard that Bossa Nova is “elitist”. Nothing could be less true. Although several aspects have been left out of the official Bossa Nova historiography (race, gender and cultural appropriation issues come to mind), the importance of gender in the construction of various aspects of Brazilian identity is undeniable.

Bossa has in its DNA the ancestral African drums and redefines them in the light of the Copacabana sun. In her different moments, she walks through the many Brazilian contradictions and transforms them into brilliant music. There is something very beautiful about Brazil, as represented by Bossa and I am proud to remember and to be part of that tradition.

Viva a Bossa Nova!

More stories on the topic? Check this one about the hit Mas Que Nada, by Jorge Benjor or this one, about The Look of Love at 50.

Be seeing you!

G.F.

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