Who is who among Bossa composers

Tom the legend. The long way from local club (inferninhos) to turn into the best composer of all time.


Antonio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994): Tom the legend. He did not create the bossa nova but was his main driver. Surprisingly he had scarce jazz influences but a lot of Debussy & Ravel influences. The long way from local club (inferninhos) to turn into the best composer of all time.


Attention!!: standing straight, eyes forward, chest out. We talk about of most composed ever.  


Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, known by the nickname Tom, was born in the north part of Rio de Janeiro, and soon his family moved to Ipanema.Without this movement may be we never could have known the big Jobim because the apparently small details are very important in our lives.


Music Keys:  Jobim had an uncle who played classical guitar and this one teach Tom the first music lessons but his favorite instrument was the piano and in it wrote all of his music. 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. This German player brought to Brazil the concept of dodecaphonic, a revolutionary kind of harmony created by Schoenberg and Hauer.  While studying piano he studied moreover the guitar according to classical composers like Villa-Lobos.  In the Bossa Nova world,  his complementary or alter ego people were in this order:  Vinícius de Moraes, Newton de Mendoça and Joao Gilberto, this last the real creator of the new style of music.


Influences: The main Jobim´ influences were not jazz musicians but French composers Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.


Anecdote: His parents did not want the Jobim were a musician. So he enrolled in architecture school, lasted less than a year and worked as a assistant to a local architect in the early 1940s.  


The hard beginning: Once his real energies were directed toward music, performed every night in bars and clubs in the early 50s, in Copacabana, specially in a small nightclub called as inferninhos, or little hell. In adittion he transcribed the arrangements for people who were illiterate in terms of musical notations.


He died in 1994 but his essential work was written in 1954-1974 period, a period full of small masterpieces, full of nuages, full of magic tracks.


The first period (54-59):  Jobim’s star rise


In 1954 Tom recorded his first hits, “Incerteza” and “Tereza da Praia”.    

In 1956 he wrote “Orfeu da Conceição”, a musical play  for Vinícius de Moraes , and the both became constant partners. A popular song from that play is “Se Todos Fossem Iguais a Você”, that you can listen in our web.

In 1958 Tom Jobim composed the firt album considered as bossa,  “Canção do Amor Demais”, featuring music  with alter ego Vinícius de Moraes, sung by Eliseth Cardoso and accompanied by the great and one-of-a kind João Gilberto in the guitar. It features, among others, “Canção do Amor Demais”, “Chega de Saudade” and “Eu Não Existo sem Você”. The same year, the solidification of “Bossa nova” as a musical style came soon with the track “Chega de Saudade” interpreted by João Gilberto. Jobim’s star rose very quickly in Brazil after the release of two “Chega de Saudade” (by Eliseth Cardoso & Joao Gilberto)

In 1959, a complete  album for Joao Gilberto, called also as “Chega de Saudade”, arranged and directed by Tom Jobim, defined newly  this kind of  Brazilian music. Unbelievably, that same year, singer Silvia Telles recorded an album exclusively  composed by Jobim material,  among its we found “Dindi” and “A Felicidade”, both recorded in our website.


The second period: (60-61), the transition years: No events nor songs to comment.


The third period. The definitive years:  1962 and 1963: The change to superstar. The jump.


In 1962 and ’63,  wrote among others : “Garota de Ipanema”. “Samba do Avião”, “Só Danço Samba” (with Vinícius). In 1962 he was one of the hyped (entusiasta) performers at the Carnegie Hall Bossa Nova Festival (Manhattan, New York).“Garota de Ipanema”, produced in 1962 Jobim, was written when Jobim and Vicinius de Moraes were sitting in a bar in Jobim’s hometown of Ipanema and both became infatuated (colado, obsesionado) with the passer-by of a “tall and tan –bronceada- woman” described in the song.


The fourth period. The USA echo: 1963-1965


Although by 1962 American jazz musicians had begun to immerse themselves in bossa nova and 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 landed in the United States when saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd recorded Jazz Samba album in November of 1962  In 1963 Jobim  made his U.S. recording debut on the Verve label with The Composer of Desafinado Plays .In 1964, a cover of Garota de Ipanema was recorded as “The Girl from Ipanema”, with a vocal by Gilberto’s wife, Astrud. The song became a number-two hit in the United States, eclipsed only by the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.” Jobim prospered, although he was never canny (astuto) about the music publishing deals he signed, and he often failed to receive a proper share of the money his songs earned. In 1967 he collaborated with Sinatra (Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim). The album “Francis Albert Sinatra and Antônio Carlos Jobim”, arranged by Claus Ogerman, included English versions of Tom’s songs (“The Girl From Ipanema”, “How Insensitive”, “Dindi”, “Quiet Night of Quiet Stars, Corcovado”) and American standards, such as Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate On You”. All of them, included the Cole Porter´song you can found in our web.  .


The get back. Tom set up newly in Brazyl, late 60s and 70s.  The definitive album “Elis & Tom”, the main legato of Tom.


In 1965 recorded newly “The Composer Of ‘Desafinado’ Plays”, in this occasion started his own publishing house, Corcovado Music.  By the late 60s, after releasing the record “Wave” he composed the great “Sabiá”, a masterpiece that you can listen in our web, which he wrote with Chico Buarque. “Sabiá” captivated the critics, but not the audience.   In 1974, he recorded with his favorite  female vocalist:  Elis Regina. She was born in Porto Alegre and moved to Rio, recorded together the famous  Elis & Tom, with  “Retrato em branco e preto” as the most popular song of this album, also available in our web.


Social events: 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. Previously, Jobim have had another son in 1950: Paulo, guitar player. Today the third generation in represented by Daniel Jobim, piano player, Paulo´s son.


His last CD, “Antônio Brasileiro”, was released in 1994. Brasileiro is not a nickname but a name (Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim).


Awards: Jobim was not a man lover of award, he loved the music.  For me the most great composer all of time, a most of critics 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  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.


Jobim died in USA: a really pitty that he passed away outside of this loved Brazyl. 


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.


Testimonial:As an special testimonial legato, the guitar lovers may listen today the music of Tom Jobim in the records of famous Paulo Bellinati, one of most contemporary Classical Guitar players in Brazil.



-Helena Jobim (his sister) -“Antônio Carlos Jobim, um Homem Iluminado”

-Sérgio Cabral -“Antônio Carlos Jobim – Uma Biografia”

-Márcia Cezimbra, Tárik de Souza and Tessy Callado: “Tons sobre Tom”



Joâo Gilberto, the father of Bossa Nova.


João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, known as João Gilberto  (was born in 1931), is a brazilian singer, guitarist, and considered the father of Bossa Nova as a new music genre in the late 1950s.

João Gilberto was born in Juazeiro Bahía,    His grandfather bought him his first guitar at the age of 14.  After trying his luck as a radio singer in Salvador, Bahía,the young Gilberto was recruited in 1950 as lead singer of the vocal quintetGarotos da Lua  and moved to Rio de Janeiro. A year and a half later, he was dismissed from the group for his lack of discipline (he would often show up late to rehearsals or not at all).

João Gilberto’s first recordings were released in 1951.

In 1955 he was Quitandinha Serenaders group, who took him to Porto Alegre in southern Brazil. In the same year he spent eight months with his sister in Diamantina, where he sequestered himself and played day and night in a little bathroom (because of the improved acoustic), forging a personal style for voice and guitar. It is no wonder that his father take him to a psychiatric facility where he was discharged in a week

The next year (1956) he returned to Rio and struck up old acquaintances, most significantly Antonio Carlos Jobim, who was by then working as a composer, producer and arranger with Odeon Records.  Jobim was impressed with Gilberto’s new style of guitar playing, and set about finding a suitable song to pitch the style to Odeon management.

João Gilberto often eschews all accompaniment except his guitar.  

The singing style he developed is almost whispering. He creates his tempo tensions by singing ahead or behind the beat.

in 1958 JG records “Chega de Saudade”,  the first bossa-nova, a Gilberto’s distinctive style.  

By 1962, bossa nova had been embraced by North American jazz musicians. Stan Getz invited Gilberto and Jobim to collaborate on   album Getz/Gilberto. The Girl from Ipanema (Garota de Ipanema), a  Jobim/de Moraes composition,  singed by his wife Astrud, became a worldwide pop music standard.