And the riverbank talks
Of the waters of March
It's the end of the strain,
It's the joy in your heart.
Antonio Carlos Jobim aka Tom Jobim was born January 25, 1927 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was a composer, poet, singer, pianist and guitarist. He is most widely known for The Girl from Ipanema ( and when she passes each one she passes goes ahhhh...) and as one of the creators of Bossa Nova. Jobim's music and beautiful melodies are the embodiment of the Portuguese word saudade. In 1941 Jobim began piano lessons with Hans Joachim Koellreuter, a german musician credited with introducing the dodecaphonic or twelve tone method of composition to Brazil. In the forties Jobim continues to study music, enters and drops out of the School of Architecture, marries Thereza Hermanny and has a child. In 1952 Jobim begins writing out arrangements for other peoples songs and transcribing melodies for other composers at Continental Records. This is also the year that Jobim meets another important Brazilian composer (also a School of Architeture drop out) Billy Blanco. In 1953 Jobim releases his first song and first of many collaborations with Newton Mendonça, it's a track called Incerteza or "Uncertainty". Jobims first hit however comes from the song Tereza da Praia which he compossed with Billy Blanco in 1954. 1954 is also the year he releases his first LP, also with Blanco, called "Sinfonia do Rio de Janeiro".
Tom Jobims carrer takes off at the same time that Bossa Nova starts to take shape as a distinct sound. In 1958 the LP Canção do Amor Demaism, which featured Joao Gilberto singing and playing guitar, was released. This album had a reworking of Jobims "Outra vez" or "One more time" with João Gilberto's playing guitar and singing. It is the hypnotic simple samba swing of Gilberto's guitar playing and its relationship to the singing on Outra Vez (as well as on Chega de Saudade which is also on the album) that is seen as the starting point of Bossa Nova (Other people will say its Jobims arrangment and Joao Gilbertos guitar and singing on "Desafinado" or "Off Key" that was the beginning of Bossa Nova, either way you look at it was Jobims music and Gilbertos feel).
Quiet nights of quiet stars
Quiet chords from my guitar
Floating on the silence that surrounds us...
One of my favorite things that Jobim did, came next, and that was compose, with Luis Bonfa, the music for the movie "Black Orpheus" or "Orfeu Negro". In 1959 Black Orpheus won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film festival and won the Oscar for best foreign film. The very powerful and rushing samba that is constant in Black Orpheus is definitely one of the things that makes this movie stand out. The soundtrack sold over a million copies and Jobim and Bonfa became internationally known. It also brought greater exposure of samba and brazilian music to jazz musicians in America. If you are a fan of Amon Tobin you must listen to this sound track and hear how much of influence this movie must have had on his music.
The next big milestone in Jobims career is the recording and release of Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto and Astrud Gilberto singing Tom Jobim and Newton Mendonças, The Girl from Ipanema, which was released in 1963. This version of The Girl from Ipanema was a huge success and after its release Bossa Nova enjoyed a large international following and began to influence the jazz music at the time. There is a version of the song recorded in 1962 at a restaurant called Au Bon Gourmet that has an introduction with Joao Gilberto saying "Tom, what about composing a song now that could tell us what love is?" to which Jobim replies
"Look, Joãozinho, I wouldn't know how without Vinicius to write the words". It is a reference to the fact that Jobim and Vinicus always refused to explain who did what when it came to composing. I also like how it shows how Bossa Nova was so much a collaboration between many musicians at the time.
When she walks, she's like a samba
That swings so cool and sways so gentle
After this massive success Jobim, who also released many other classics in 62 and 63 and began traveling to America to record English versions of his songs, play festivals (Jobim first trip to america was as a headliner for the The Bossa Nova Show at Carnegie Hall in November 1962) and to collaborate with American jazz musicians. In 1967 Jobim recorded Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim with Frank Sinatra which has Sinatra singing a version of The Girl from Ipanema. Jobim also releases Wave in 1967 which many view as his best most mature album.
In terms of the super magical creative time in Jobims life that’s about it. He continued to perform and write music and many movie scores until he died of a heart failure at Mount Sinia Hospital in New York on December 8, 1994. Antonio Carlos Jobims was a genius surrounded by geniuses and it is hard to know where to give credit. He was a brilliant poet and composer and in my mind wrote the best melodies of the 20th century. When you hear his music you want to live in it, carefree by the beach, taking it all in slowly.
Things have been left out, mostly the various projects that Jobim did in america when bossa nova was such a huge fad there. I have not written about Stan Getz and Charlie Byrds Verve album, Jazz Samba ('62) which featured a wicked version of Desafinado. Nor have I written about Jobims extensive work on movie soundtracks. this is an ongoing project, feel free to add below. information from linear notes of CDs, allbrazilianmusic.com, rootsworld.com, nortemad.com.