Born in Juazeiro, Bahia, Brazil on June 10, 1931 (and 87 years .old at this writing), singer/song writer Joao Gilberto is a living legend of bossa nova. While Antonio Carlos Jobim set the standard for the creation of bossa nova in the mid-’50s (with songs like “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Desafinado”), it was Gilberto who brilliantly reimagined (and, arguably, defined) the genre. The first bossa nova song, titled “Bim-Bom”, was written as Gilberto watched passing
laundresses on the banks of the Sao Francisco River balance loads of clothes on their heads. In 1956 he went to Rio de Janeiro 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. In 1959 Gilberto presented his first LP, CHEGA DE SAUDADE. The title song turned into a hit, launching Gilberto’s career and the bossa nova craze. Besides a number of Jobim compositions, the album featured older sambas and popular songs from the 1940s and 1950s, all performed in Gilberto’s distinctive style. This album was followed by two more in 1960 and 1961, by which time the singer featured new songs by a younger generation of performer/composers such as Carlos Lyra and Roberto Menescal.
By 1962, bossa nova had been embraced by North American jazz musicians such as Herbie Mann, Charlie Byrd, and Stan Getz, who invited Gilberto and Jobim to collaborate on what became one of the best-selling jazz albums of all time, Getz/Gilberto. Chega de Saudade was issued in the United States as The Warm World of Jo o Gilberto.