Published: Mon, July 08, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Father Of Bossa Nova João Gilberto Dead At 88

Father Of Bossa Nova João Gilberto Dead At 88

Self-taught, Gilberto said he discovered music at age 14 when he held a guitar in his hands for the first time.

As if to say goodbye, Joao Gilberto emerged from seclusion a few days before his death and had dinner at a restaurant on Rio's Copacabana beach.

His son announced the news last Saturday but no cause was given.

"His fight grow to be noble, he tried to protect dignity", Marcelo Gilberto acknowledged.

João Gilberto was born in the Brazilian state of Bahia in 1931 and his music came to symbolise a period of hope and optimism in country.

His release of the record Chega de Saudade in the late 1950s was considered a game-changer for Brazilian music.

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His guitar style coupled with his velvety smooth voice brought him to the forefront of his new sound bossa nova, meaning "new trend" or "new wave" as he began to make the rounds of jazz festivals and concert halls around the world. His collaboration with American saxophonist Stan Getz, called Getz/Gilberto in 1965, is also considered the album that popularized bossa nova worldwide, and became one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time.

Bernardo Araujo, a music critic for the daily O Globo newspaper, said past year that Gilberto's importance was "incalculable". After a brief stay in a mental hospital in 1955, Gilberto met fellow bossa nova innovator Antônio Carlos Jobim, beginning a lifelong friendship as musical collaborators.

The album's breakout hit featured Gilberto's then-wife Astrud on a sultry vocal of the song "Garota de Ipanema (Girl From Ipanema)".

"He managed to create a mystique about him overseas, being who he was and not even speaking English", he told Globo television.

In the mid-1960s, less than a decade after the movement started, the music was pretty much silenced by a military dictatorship that clamped down an all outside political and cultural influences.

In 2011, she persuaded Gilberto to go on tour to mark his 80th birthday but he later pulled out, citing health woes. The songwriter is survived by three children, João Marcelo, Bebel, and Luisa.

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