Best Antonio Carlos Jobim Songs: 20 Brazilian Classics

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Antonio Carlos Jobim, better known as “Tom Jobim” in his homeland, is arguably one of the most important songwriters of the 20th century, competing with Gershwin, Porter, McCartney & Lennon and Wonder for consistency and diversity. of their productions. The large number of covers in circulation since the 1960s keeps Jobim globally relevant among jazz and pop musicians. While Jobim will forever be associated with Bossa-nova style he helped create alongside Vinicius de Moraes and João Gilberto, his legacy cannot be contained in one genre.

Coming from a middle-class family in Rio de Janeiro, the young Jobim played the piano in bars and nightclubs before entering the Rio record industry in the mid-1950s. associates with the poet and diplomat Vinicius de Moraes to write the music for the play Orfeu da Conceição, which later became a successful arthouse film Black orpheus in 1959. It was at this time that João Gilberto showed up in Rio with a revolutionary new style that would soon be dubbed Bossa Nova, with Jobim’s compositions fueling Gilberto’s career in those early years.

Listen to the best songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim on Apple Music and Spotify.

Bossa Nova brought Jobim to the United States in 1962 where he remained occasionally for the rest of his life, recording albums for Verve, Warner Brothers, Reprise, A & M / CTI, MCA and Columbia as well as a handful duet and ensemble. albums released only in Brazil. Beyond his flagship song, “The Girl from Ipanema”, Jobim wrote the majority of the best-known Brazilian songs to blend in with international pop and jazz.

As a composer, arranger, pianist and singer, Antonio Carlos Jobim can be heard not only on his own recordings, but also on his close collaborators and duo partners like Frank sinatra, Elis Régina, and Sergio Mendes. Choosing only 20 songs to sum up his career is an impossible task, but the following recordings (all of Jobim’s compositions) are some of the best versions of his songs.

Revolutionary Songs of Bossa Nova by Antonio Carlos Jobim

(“A Felicidade”, “Chega de Saudade”, “One Note Samba”, “Insensatez (Comment insensible)”, “La fille d’Ipanema”)

The Rio de Janeiro music scene that gave birth to Bossa Nova was lousy with talented composers like Carlos Lyra, Roberto Menescal, Baden Powell, João Donato, and more, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine a “Greatest” Hits of Bossa Nova “composed entirely of the best songs of Antonio Carlos Jobim. This is how much his musical presence defined the era. Between 1958 and 1968 Jobim composed countless classics.

“A Felicidade” (Le Bonheur) is one of Jobim’s most iconic songs which memorably anchors the film Black orpheus. If you haven’t seen the movie, do yourself a favor and enjoy its technicolor wonder and brilliant soundtrack. Historians identify the first song containing all the elements that define Bossa Nova as Elizabeth Cardoso’s recording of Jobim-De Moraes’ composition “Chega de Saudade” (No More Blues) with João Gilberto on guitar and Jobim on piano and arrangements from 1958. Within a few years of João Gilberto’s debut album in 1958, his imported albums traded hands among the hottest jazz players in New York and Los Angeles, leading to the journey of flutist Herbie Mann in 1962 to record in Rio de Janeiro where he invited Jobim to sing (for the first time on wax) on his own song, “One Note Samba”.

Later that year, Jobim performed on Bossa Nova’s release party at Carnegie Hall. He remained in the United States and began his solo recording career in 1963 with his instrumental album for Verve, including the classic “Insensatez (Insensitive)” with his spare piano playing. The album also marked the start of a decades-long partnership with arranger Claus Ogerman. “The Ipanema Girl” in her emblematic interpretation of João Gilberto, Astrud Gilberto, and Stan getz was recorded later in 1963 and again featured Jobim on piano, but was not released until 1964 and won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965.

United States songs

(“Quiet Nights of the Quiet Stars (Corcovado)”, “Bonita”, “Surfboard”, “Desafinado”, “Stone Flower”)

The dazzling success of “The Girl from Ipanema” solidified Antonio Carlos Jobim’s international career. He wrote all but two of the full-length songs from which the success emerged, Getz / Gilberto, including the beloved ode to the top of Rio de Janeiro on which stands the giant statue of Christ: “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado)”. By the mid-1960s, Jobim was a prized commodity in the United States, securing him a successful recording career in the United States with Warner, first with romantic red velvet tunes like the Bossa Nova “Bonita” in English. .

His 1967 album features a new batch of instant classics like the easy-to-listen re-recording of “Surfboard” with help from organist Dick Hyman and arrangements by Claus Ogerman. Jobim tackles one of his most perfect tracks, “Off Key (Desafinado)” with his deliciously imperfect vocals and the dynamic backing of Ogerman’s rising arrangement.

After leaving Warner Brothers, Jobim broadened his musical vision for his next three albums recorded for A & M / CTI with longer compositions, more jazz musicians and a more cinematic style. “Stone Flower”, the title track from her 1970 album is a perfect example of this next phase of her career, a Baião rhythm of northeastern Brazil anchored by Ron Carter on bass and Airto Moreira on percussion. This new sound seduced a whole new generation of music lovers, like Carlos Santana who chose to cover this song a few years later.

Duets and collaborations by Antonio Carlos Jobim

(“Ela é Carioca”, “Água de Beber”, “Dindi”, “Águas de Março”, “Samba do Soho”)

Antonio Carlos Jobim not only composed classical songs, he was often involved in the recording of his songs by friends and fellow musicians in Brazil and the United States. Before becoming a minor celebrity in the United States, he arranged some of his songs for his mentee, Sergio Mendes’ brilliant samba-jazz album released in 1964, including a jazzy version of “Ela E Carioca”. Riding the wave of “The Girl From Ipanema”, unsuspecting star singer Astrud Gilberto found herself recording for Verve. For her debut album in 1965, she relied on Jobim for songs, moral support, some backing vocals and piano, most beautifully on her tune, “Água de Beber”.

1967 was a very good year for Jobim with three albums bearing his name, including his historic collaboration with Frank Sinatra. Although the second of Jobim’s album-lasting collaborations with The Chairman was not officially released during their lifetime, it should be noted that Sinatra never dedicated more than one album to a particular composer in outside of Jobim. “Dindi” suits Sinatra’s languid delivery perfectly with Jobim’s sweet guitar urging the singer. Their first collaboration received a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year in 1968.

Recorded in 1973 in Los Angeles, Elis & tom is worthy of all accolades, if only for their duet version on one of Jobim’s greatest songs, “Águas de Março” or “Waters of March”. Much like the vocal simpatico between Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Jobim and Regina have delicious vocal chemistry and once married to a composition masterpiece, “Aguas de Março” becomes one of the greatest performances ever devoted to the band. Moved to New York, “Samba do Soho” is an effervescent composition from his 1987 album, Passarim.

Bad mood movements

(“Valsa de Porto Das Caixas”, “Wave”, “Children’s game”, “Sabiá”, “Ligia”)

Antonio Carlos Jobim cited Debussy and Ravel alongside Brazilian composers Ary Barosso and Heitor Villa-Lobos as some of his main influences. These five songs demonstrate his classic lineage and his ability to evoke a mood, be it musing (“Valsa de Porto das Caixas”), nostalgia (“Vague”), naivety (“Children’s play”). ), melancholy (“Sabía”), or nostalgia (“Ligia”).

Jobim slipped “Valsa de Porto das Caixas”, a nice spare instrumental ballad on his debut album for Warner Brothers, stuck between future bossa nova standards. Lacking both drums and guitar, this modern classical composition comes to life only on flute, cello and piano. “Wave” is one of the most famous songs of Jobim, a cheerful instrument which went on to get lyrics and countless covers. On the 1967 album of the same name, Jobim first manifested his grander take on his music, moving away from jazz and pop and moving closer to classical recordings with a large string section and an arranger and conductor. masterful orchestra in Claus Ogerman.

“Children’s Game” was originally written for the big budget arthouse flop, The adventurers, but the version he recorded for his own album, Stone flower, is superior with its dreamy piano and playful percussions evoking nursery rhymes and childhood fantasy. Jobim has collaborated with a number of lyricists over the years, including Chico Buarque de Hollanda, who wrote the lyrics to “Sabía”, referring to Brazil’s national bird (a type of thrush) during his exile in Italy in 1968.

“Ligia” is a devastating torchlight ballad with an exquisite arrangement by Claus Ogerman (again) wears his grief on his sleeve – it’s a shame Frank Sinatra never recorded this one. Recorded for his 1976 album Vulture, “Ligia” is another Jobim track earning standard status with its countless versions recorded in Brazil and beyond.

Do you think you missed one of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s best songs? Let us know in the comments section below.


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