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The Bossa Nova Story
- Overview

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Overview
Where It All Began
LP's Change The Landscape
Vocal Groups and João Gilberto
Next *  Life At The Copacabana
   

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The Bossa Nova Story
- Part 03 - Vocal Groups and João Gilberto
One of Brazil's most popular singers from 1935 to 1942 was Orlando Silva but he somehow lost his voice and popularity shifted to Lúcio Alves who was conveniently one of his protégés.
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Having tried to turn his career around in Savador for more than a year guitarist and vocalist João Gilberto returned to Rio in 1950 with a promise of work at a local radio station, but even more impressively with a recommendation from his uncle to work as a clerk in the House Of Representatives.

Upon arrival in Rio he auditioned at the studios of Rádio Tupi where members of the group Os Garotas Da Lua were awaiting him along with the local star Dircinha Batista who heard him sing and stated ' You found yourselves one hell of a crooner ! '

The band were energized at the arrival of João and the group soon released two 78's with the Todamérica label. Neither were groundbreakers but the group had a huge fan base, not so much by the public but by other musicians who regarded them as the 'trend setters'. However at this time groups were in a constant state of fluctuation as members parted with the groups to pursue solo careers, only one band had a solid foundation and regular fan base, they were Os Cariocas.

Although João Gilberto earned a reputation with Os Garotas Da Lua for being late, absent or unreliable at times he did perform with the group on TV Tupi in 1951 which was aired in Rio De Janeiro and São Paulo on a new network link and this paved the way for a surge in their record sales which were released just in time for Carnaval in 1952. The band were sensational and they received many offers thereafter to perform in clubs all over the country.

However upon missing a date shortly afterwards João was fired from Os Garotas Da Lua which also coincided with him losing his clerical job at the House Of Representatives, however he was still optimistic about his future. He did learn one valuable lesson though from his time with the band, he was going to carve a musical career path for himself and not get fired again.

Gilberto recorded his first solo career songs in 1952, two songs 'Quando Ela Sai' and 'Meia Luz' which were met with great optimism, but they attracted little radio airplay and few actually bought the records. One thing seemed to be missing from these recordings - his guitar playing.

He had a miserable existence for many months thereafter whereby he broke up with his girlfirend Sylvinha Telles (sister of Mário Telles), he was asked to leave his accomodation by Lúcio Alves and in desperation for work he joined the musical production 'This Life Is A Carnival' at the Casablanca in Urca. João had to make four custume changes per show to act as four different characters in the performance, and although it was extremely challenging for him at the time, it did pay his way, albeit until the show was shut down at the end of the season.

During his time with the production he did manage to meet up with another vocal group, the 'Quitandinha Serenaders' who comprised of Luís Telles, Alberto Ruschel, Francisco Pacheco and Luiz Bonfá. Luís Telles befriended the younger João and treated him like a son that he never had.

Some say he never actually performed regularly with the group per se, but he did rehearse with them regularly and he ended up with sporadic performances and when Bonfá left the group to go solo he was replaced, not with Gilberto, but with Paulo Ruschel, Alberto's brother.

Luís Telles influence in João Gilberto's future would be far more radical.

Listen to Music Samples
( Licensing via LIVE365 )
* Sarah Vaughan - Pinky (1955)
* João Gilberto - Quando Ela Sai (1952)
* Os Cariocas - Tarde Em Itapoa (1991)

Next Time in Part 04
- Life At The Copacabana

Further In Depth Reading about Bossa Nova
If we have awoken your interest with The Bossa Nova Story we recommend the excellent book
Bossa Nova by Ruy Castro ( Acappella - 2003)

Wes George (former Sony Jazz webmaster)
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