João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira, known as João Gilberto (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈʒwɐ̃w ʒiwˈbɛʁtu]; June 10, 1931 in Juazeiro, Bahia), is a Brazilian singer and guitarist. His seminal recordings, including many songs by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, established the new musical genre of Bossa nova in the late 1950s.
From an early age, music was a part of João Gilberto's life. His grandfather bought him his first guitar at the age of 14. During high school, Gilberto teamed up with some of his classmates to form a small band. Gilberto, who led the band, was influenced by Brazilian popular songs, American jazz, and even some opera, among other genres. After trying his luck as a radio singer in Salvador, Bahia, the young Gilberto was recruited in 1950 as lead singer of the vocal quintet Garotos da Lua (Moon Boys) 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 Brazil as two-song 78-rpm singles between 1951 and 1959. In the 1960s, Brazilian singles evolved to the "double compact" format, and João would release some EPs in this new format, which carried 4 songs on a 45-rpm record.
For seven years, Gilberto's career was at a low ebb. He rarely had any work, was dependent on his friends for living quarters, and fell into chronic depression. Eventually, in 1955 he was rescued from this rut by Luiz Telles, leader of the vocal group Quitandinha Serenaders, who took him to Porto Alegre in southern Brazil. In this provincial town João Gilberto blossomed musically. Next he spent eight months with his sister in Minas Gerais, where he sequestered himself and played day and night, forging a personal style for voice and guitar that would come to be known as bossa nova. The first bossa nova song, titled "Bim-Bom", was written as Gilberto watched passing laundresses on the banks of the São Francisco River balance loads of clothes on their heads.
Just after this time Gilberto's father, upset by João's bizarre singing style and refusal to take "normal" work, committed him to a mental hospital. In a psychological interview there, Gilberto stared out the window and remarked, “Look at the wind depilating the trees.” The psychologist replied, “But trees have no hair, João,” to which Gilberto responded, “And there are people who have no poetry.” He was released after 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.
Bossa nova ("new style") is a refined version of samba, de-emphasizing the percussive aspect of its rhythm and enriching the melodic and harmonic content. Rather than relying on the traditional Afro-Brazilian percussive instruments, João Gilberto often eschews all accompaniment except his guitar, which he uses as a percussive as well as a harmonic instrument, incorporating what would be the role of the tamborim in a full batucada band. The singing style he developed is almost whispering, economical, and without vibrato. He creates his tempo tensions by singing ahead or behind the beat.
This style, which Gilberto introduced in 1957, created a sensation in the musical circles of Rio's Zona Sul, and many young guitarists sought to imitate it. It was first heard on record in 1958 in a recording of "Chega de Saudade", a song by Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes. Gilberto had first accompanied singer Elizeth Cardoso as her guitarist in a recording of this song, explaining his vision for the new style, but Cardoso would have none of his singing advice and sung it in the standard way. But shortly after this recording, João Gilberto made his own debut single of the same song, in the new style, followed by the 1959 LP, Chega de Saudade. The 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 '50s, 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. Through this album, Gilberto's then wife Astrud -- who had never sung professionally prior to this recording session -- became an international star, and the Jobim/de Moraes composition "The Girl from Ipanema" became a worldwide pop music standard.
João Gilberto lived in the United States from 1962 until 1969, when he moved to Mexico for two years. There he recorded João Gilberto en México (1970). João Gilberto, aka the "White Album" (1973), featured hypnotic minimalist execution, limited to the singer, his guitar, and Sonny Carr on drums. 1976 saw the release of The Best of Two Worlds, a reunion with Stan Getz, featuring singer Miúcha, (sister of Chico Buarque), who had become Gilberto's second wife in April 1965. Amoroso (1977) backed Gilberto with the lush string orchestration of Claus Ogerman, who had provided a similar sound to Jobim's instrumental recordings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As had been the case for all of Gilberto's albums, the album consisted mostly of Jobim compositions, mixed with older sambas and an occasional North American standard from the 1940s.
João Gilberto returned to Brazil in 1980. The following year saw the release of Brasil, with guests Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, who in the late 1960s had founded the Tropicalia movement, a fusion of Brazilian popular music with foreign pop. The 1991 release João, with orchestrations by Clare Fischer, was unusual in its lack of even a single Jobim composition, instead featuring songs in English, French, Italian, and Spanish, plus old sambas and the solitary contemporary song "Sampa" (Caetano Veloso). Also released in 1991 was the album Canto do Pajé by Veloso's sister Maria Bethânia, on which Bethânia and Gilberto sing an intimate medley of "Maria" (Ary Barroso/Luiz Peixoto) and "Linda Flor"' (Henrique Vogeler/Luiz Peixoto/Marques Pôrto), accompanied solely by his guitar. João Voz e Violão (2000) was an homage to the music of Gilberto's youth as well as a nod to producer Caetano Veloso.
Evenly interspersed with these studio recordings have been the live recordings Live in Montreux; João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira; Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar; Live at Umbria Jazz; and Live in Tokyo.
While all of Gilberto's albums since Getz/Gilberto have been released on CD, the first three domestic albums were released in 1988 by EMI on a single CD entitled The Legendary João Gilberto: The Original Bossa Nova Recordings (1958–1961). The disc also included three tracks from the singer's 1959 Orfeu Negro EP: "Manhã de Carnaval," O Nosso Amor, and A Felicidade, the latter two merged into a single medley track to fit within the recording time of a CD. After its release, Gilberto successfully sued to have the title removed from sale as an unauthorized release of his artistic works.
João Gilberto has long had a reputation as an artist who values his privacy. He lives in an apartment in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, refusing interviews and avoiding crowds. He also has high standards for acoustics and noise control. He has been known to walk out on performances in response to audiences that interfere with the music by creating inappropriate noise, or out of theaters possessing poor acoustics; on several occasions he requested that the air conditioning be turned off at concert venues. During a recording session of the song "Rosa Morena" Gilberto insisted on 28 takes to get the pronunciation of the 'O' in "Rosa" just right.
He continues to perform, very occasionally, to sell-out crowds in Brazil as well as in Europe, North America, and Japan. His planned public performances in Madrid (2009) and New York (2010) were cancelled at short notice. He is the father of singer Bebel Gilberto (Isabel), via his marriage to Miúcha.
In 1997, João sued record label EMI over a reissuing of several of his early works which he contended were poorly remastered. According to The New York Times, "A statement by his lawyer at the time declared that the reissues contained sound effects that 'did not pertain to the original recordings, banalizing the work of a great artist.'" Following the incident, EMI ceased to manufacture the albums in question, and, as of 2008, the lawsuit is yet to reach a decision.
In January 2011, Gilberto was notified by the State Court to leave his apartment in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, where he has lived for fifteen years. According to the lawyer Paulo Roberto Moreira Mendes, the property belongs to Georgina Brandolini d'Adda, who criticizes the eccentric behavior of the musician.
João Gilberto (Juazeiro, 10 de junio de 1931) es un músico considerado, junto con Antônio Carlos Jobim (más conocido como Tom Jobim), uno de los creadores del género musical bossa-nova. Su nombre completo es João Gilberto Prado Pereira de Oliveira. También cantante de jazz, uno de sus éxitos fue Garota de Ipanema (La chica de Ipanema). Es uno de los mejores músicos de jazz latino.
Cantante, que aprendió a tocar la guitarra sin profesor, João Gilberto se fue para la ciudad de Río de Janeiro el año 1950. Tuvo algún éxito cantando en la banda Garotos da Lua. Después de ser expulsado de la banda por rebeldía, pasó algunos años sin trabajo, pero con la idea pertinaz de crear una nueva forma de expresión musical con la guitarra.
Su esfuerzo finalmente dio resultado y, tras conocer a Tom Jobim —pianista y compositor con educación clásica pero a quien también le gustaba la música jazz estadounidense—, lanzaron el movimiento que se conoció como Bossa nova.
La cucarachiña (nueva ola) era una destilación del ritmo de percusión y sincopado de la samba, en una forma simplificada que podía ser tocada en una guitarra sin acompañamiento. Se atribuye a João Gilberto la creación de esta técnica. También introdujo una nueva forma de cantar, a bajo volumen, con la pronunciación de las sílabas hecha algunas veces antes y algunas veces después de la base rítmica y con la voz entrenada para eliminar casi cualquier ruido de la respiración y otras imperfecciones.
En 1958 llegó la primera presentación comercial de este nuevo estilo, con el disco Canção do Amor Demais de la cantante Elizeth Cardoso, que incluía composiciones de Jobim acompañadas de letras de Vinícius de Moraes. Poco tiempo después João Gilberto grabó su primer disco, llamado Chega de Saudade. La canción que le da título al disco de Gilberto también estaba en el álbum de Cardoso y fue un éxito en Brasil. Esta obra lanzó la carrera musical de João Gilberto, y también el movimiento musical Bossa Nova. Además de varias composiciones de Tom Jobim, el disco contenía varios sambas y canciones populares de los años 30 pero arregladas con el distintivo estilo de la bossa nova. En 1960 y 1961, Gilberto lanzó otros dos discos que contenían canciones compuestas por una nueva generación de cantantes y compositores como Carlos Lyra y Roberto Menescal.
Alrededor de 1962 la bossa-nova ya había sido adoptada por músicos de jazz estadounidenses como Stan Getz. Este último invitó a João Gilberto y Tom Jobim para que colaboraran en lo que acabó convirtiéndose en uno de los discos de jazz más vendidos de la historia, Getz/Gilberto. De este trabajo destaca la composición de Jobim/de Moraes "Garota de Ipanema" (La Chica de Ipanema; en su versión inglesa, The Girl from Ipanema), que se convirtió en una canción clásica del pop internacional y llevó a la fama a Astrud Gilberto, mujer en aquel entonces de João Gilberto y cantante en esta pieza.
El disco siguiente, Ela é Carioca, fue lanzado el año 1968, cuando João Gilberto estaba residiendo en México. El disco João Gilberto, lanzado en 1973, representa un cambio desde la creación de la bossa nova. En 1976 fue lanzado The Best of Two Worlds, con la participación de Stan Getz y de la cantante brasileña Miúcha (Heloísa Maria Buarque de Hollanda), hermana de Chico Buarque que se había convertido en esposa de João Gilberto en abril de 1965. El disco Amoroso (1977) tuvo arreglos del músico Claus Ogerman.
En el disco de 1981 Brasil, João Gilberto trabaja con Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso y María Bethania, quienes a finales de los 60 habían creado el movimiento Tropicalismo basándose en la bossa nova y fusionándola con elementos de rock. En 1991 lanzó João, un disco particular por no contar con ninguna composición de Tom Jobim y, en su lugar, utilizar canciones de Caetano, Cole Porter y composiciones en español. El trabajo João Voz E Violão, lanzado en 2000, marcó una vuelta a los clásicos de la bossa-nova y tuvo la producción musical de Caetano Veloso.
João Gilberto lanzó también grabaciones en vivo. Como ejemplos, Live in Montreux, Prado Pereira de Oliveira y Live at Umbria Jazz. Su personalidad tiene fama de excéntrica y perfeccionista.